Lately I’ve noticed a trend arising among blog posts and facebook dialogue that I find a little perplexing. It has to do with our daughters, and no, it’s not about sexy clothing or Miley Cyrus - at least, not directly. What it has to do with is complimenting our daughters, or should I say, not complimenting them.
It seems there are more and more outspoken moms cropping up, who like to proudly extol the merits of never mentioning their daughter’s physical appearance. Apparently, if you never tell a girl she's beautiful she will not worry about the lack of space between her thighs, or aim to replicate this undoubtedly doctored stock photo.
Furthermore, I've witnessed upset over innocent bystanders in line at the grocery store having the nerve to say their daughter is cute. I guess grandma never got the memo that using the only information she has to go on in a 15 second interaction with a child and acknowledging said child’s adorable looks is considered offensive.
Ladies, LADIES! Nobody is out to make your toddler a piece of meat just because they say she’s cute! I’m sure some will disagree, but I don’t think I will either if I do the same. If it's a girl I know personally, of course I will engage her and not have our conversation revolve around her pretty dress or her hair, but if I see a little girl in the post office that is so precious it makes my ovaries hurt, then I just might be guilty of mentioning it.
I know the times we are living in. I’ve written about it before and I’m equally disturbed that the objectification of young girls has become so widespread that even toddlers are included. I too feel the need to protect my daughter from a world where 6 year olds are marketed the same risqué clothing that used to be reserved for adult women. I see the rape culture, the sexting and the role social media plays in misogynistic games of youth all spiraling out of control. I AM JUST AS SCARED FOR MY DAUGHTER. However, I don’t think that means we can’t help our daughters recognize their beauty – inside and out.
I feel like denying girls of any praise of their looks as a means to direct their focus on the other elements of their personality sends the wrong message and has a very good chance of backfiring. Do I want my daughter to think her body needs to be perfect to please others and gain attention? Absolutely not! Do I want her to love herself, including her physical appearance, no matter how vast the gap is when comparing her body to the unrealistic ideals that are consuming her reality? Hell yes!
So I tell my daughter that she’s gorgeous, and intelligent, and creative, and funny, and kind… I know the list of adjectives will grow as she does, and I will continue to make sure I do everything I can to empower her by helping her to love herself in every way, especially as she approaches her teenage years. I can’t say for sure if my efforts will be successful or if society and teen angst will win the battle, but my hope is that if she truly believes her body is beautiful, she will have no need to seek validation elsewhere.
Image courtesy of marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Amy Serotkin is dedicated to sustainable living and finding ways to eliminate toxins in her home. She is an avid organic gardener and cook, and is always looking for more ways to challenge herself to lessen her family's ecological imprint.
Her website, The Mindful Home, shares with consumers the information she's found on toxins and eco friendly products that help eliminate disposables or toxin exposure. She also hopes to highlight smaller retailers, crafters and manufacturers.