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Why I may stop telling my daughter she is pretty

Recently the obsession of beauty and self esteem has haunted me. Maybe it is because I am hyper analytical and I want to be able to unteach my daughter what I learned. It may also have something to do with the fact that after having 2 babies in less than three years time I am 75 pounds heavier than I was the day I got married.

Regardless I have resolved to do better concerning how I feel and talk about myself starting now. This buzzfeed video caught my eye “What does it mean to be pretty.” As the girls explained when they learned that pretty mattered it all started in childhood.

Get this, My siblings all have green eyes! Yes blacks with green eyes is the Holy Grail of beauty right! My brother (whom I love dearly hehe) even has a beauty mark! Like who are you Cindy Crawford!? Regardless to say I didn’t share these traits with my siblings. In fact I distinctly remember an older lady at the church when I was about 6 years old asking me, “And where are your pretty eyes little girl.”  Even though I was young, I was wise. I politely smiled and thought, “Lady you clearly don’t have it all.”

Gabourey Sidibe is famously quoted for saying, “If they never told me I wasn’t beautiful, I wouldn’t have ever had to look for  my beauty.” It makes sense right!  I don’t think we come out of the womb wondering if we can cut the mustard when it comes to looks. We learn that we are not good enough.

This brings me to my point, after watching the video and contemplating these things I don’t want my daughter to focus on how pretty she is. I don’t even want her to think about it really. Especially as a young child! She should be more concerned with making mud pies, and throwing imaginary tea parties.

Like every mother I think my children are the best thing on earth! I think they are beautiful, lovely, pretty and every other adjective I can come up with to this end. Yet I have witnessed a pattern that I do not want to perpetuate in my own children. My baby girl Lily always get’s compliments on her “good hair” and my son too. People have complimented their light complexion. (that’s kinda strange…)

Lily (5 months) and Jude  (2 years) both have show stopping looks. Their smiles light up the room, but every where they go we undoubtedly hear the words. “They are so pretty.”  Now please understand I am not complaining that people wish to compliment my kids, I think they are beautiful children. But isn’t it true, if that is the only praise they consistently hear while growing up that they will begin to associate their value with it?

I want their value to be associated with their virtue, integrity, honesty, courage, kindness and love. So I am going to make a conscious effort to compliment them on these things. I need them to know that their good looks are not what matters most.

On more than one occasion people have said to me of my son, “He is so pretty he can almost be a little girl!” Ummmmmmmmmmmmm OK! What does that mean! Men are beautiful too you know.

The other day a grown woman in her late 50’s said that she wished she had my daughter’s hair! Excuse me lady? You have hair envy of a 5 month old? You may want to check your life.

Here’s an interesting one, may daughter is a thumb sucker. I’ve been told “she is too pretty to suck her thumb.” What does that mean people? We have to be careful what we say because it implies that the converse is true. That some children are so unattractive that it doesn’t matter what habits they pick up? Isn’t that absurd?

Please note these are simply confused rants of a mother who desires to provide balance for her children. But let it be known that my daughter will understand that her looks do not define who she is.