or Connect
Mothering › Child Articles › Its Ok To Tell Our Daughters Theyre Pretty

It's OK to Tell Our Daughters They're Pretty

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 100

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


 

400Amy 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.

 

Comments (8)

Would you like to leave a comment? Only logged-in members can leave comments, but you can become one in the blink of an eye! (We offer both easy Facebook Connect and new account registration, the choice is all yours.)
YES.  I did a vlog on this very thing.  I will tell my daughters how beautiful they are until the day I die - because EVERYTHING out there tells them they aren't. From the glossy pages of magazines, to tv ads, to celebrities sporting impossible-without-trainers-and-chefs bodies. 

I tell them this every day. I also tell them that smart and pretty don't have to be exclusive of each other. 
Yes! Yes! Yes! I am jumping up and down agreeing with you!

I was one of those moms who thought I shouldn't comment, so I didn't. When my daughter was a toddler she was playing some pretend game where she was a prince. I asked her why she chose "prince" over "princess" (not that it mattered) and she said, "because I'm not pretty enough to be a princess." My heart just about broke in two.

So now I tell my beautiful girl that she is beautiful. And, like you, it is one of the many words I use to describe her. We talk about how it is nice to be pretty, but what really matters is the kind of person you are. I also realized that I still want my mother to think I am beautiful. I know I look nothing like a woman in a magazine, hell, the women in the magazines don't even look like that. I am just a middle aged woman you would pass by on the street and never notice. But even at this age, I want my mother to see me as the most beautiful woman in the world. And the beauty of it is, she does.

I cannot tell you how much I love this article. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I cannot believe people would do this to their children do they not hug them or kiss them or tell them I love you either that is so cold
By telling my daughter she's pretty, or she's beautiful, I would think it would solidify in her that she is. And I mean, telling her that when she's younger or older, taller or shorter, chubbier or slimmer.
She is beautiful.
I always tell her "God did a good job on you." And yes, I'm a tad arrogant: "Mommy and daddy are attractive people, honey. We come from attractive families and I just think this generation of children -- you, your siblings and your cousins -- I think y'all are just the top when it comes to our genes. A bunch of beautiful children..."
I would never NOT tell her. I know too many people that grew up not hearing these things... they'll never know if their mother thought they were beautiful.
My mother told me she was proud of me and my sister the other day. I THANKED her for telling me -- people die all the time and the child is like "I never knew if I'd made her proud or not."
TELL THEM NOW. So that they KNOW. They know what you think and how they should look at themselves whether their thighs are touching or not.
There is only one street to pretty, but there are many roads to beauty.
 
My daughter is now 21, but I will always remember the conversation we had about beauty and Barbie when she was three.  How do you explain to a three year old about Barbie.  I ended up saying "Mommy thinks Barbies are yucky" and I watched her little mind blow.
 
When the storm settled I said I thought Barbies were yucky because I thought they made people think there was only one way to be pretty and I didn't like that.  That is where "There is only one street to pretty, but there are many roads to beauty" came from. 
 
Over the years the conversation would turn to female looks and I would haul out my great wisdom and I would get "Yeah yeah Mom, I know."
I don't think it was intentional, but I didn't grow up being told I was pretty. I remember when i was little that strangers or family friends would comment on my big blue eyes, but that stuff stops when you're a teenager. As a teen I thought I was unattractive because people were always teasing about being so skrawny and short. I had bad skin, a flat chest, and stick legs. I thought I looked like boy, except for my long, straight hair that I had wash constantly to keep it from being stringy and often dyed it purple to try to be more feminine and a bit rebellious. I tried to make it seem like I didn't care, but I really believed that no one was attracted to me.
Looking back at my pictures, I WAS pretty, and my first couple relationships after school helped me to see that. I also found out later that there were boys that had crushes on me but when other girls tried to talk to me about it, or asked if I liked them, I thought they were just trying to make fun of me. 
My husband grew up with similar experience. I think it is good tell ALL our children that they are beautiful/ pretty/ handsome people, along with their other qualities. We can't just pretend that physical attraction doesn't exist or that physical appearance doesn't matter. But if we give our children confidence and teach them to take pride in their appearance. Then they will take care of their bodies and feel good dressing in a way that expresses who they are.
I don't think critics are really getting it. It's not about toddlers as sex objects, or never telling your daughter you think she is lovely. Good grief.
 
It's about gender conditioning. 
 
The thing is that little girls are often ONLY complimented on their looks. The first thing they hear from strangers is "Oh, you are so cute!" While their brothers are told they are smart or strong or otherwise more ABLE. 
 
This is one among MANY stages to gender conditioning that leads women to think their primary value is decorative. 
 
OF COURSE you should tell your daughter she is beautiful-- and whatever else is good about her too. 
 
But as a stranger talking to a girl, I am more likely to comment on her manners, her abilities, or her interests than her looks. And I think this is a good thing. 
Mothering › Child Articles › Its Ok To Tell Our Daughters Theyre Pretty