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"You're beautiful!"

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
We went to a big awards dinner last night with our 4 year old daughter. A few people complimented her clothing or her shoes, or ignored her altogether (which is fine with me and was fine with her), but at least fifteen people must have told her "You're beautiful!" I mean, I do think she's beautiful, and she certainly looked cute in her little dress, but I am totally bugged at the number of times she was told that in one evening. Is there nothing else one can think of to say when meeting a child?

More importantly, is there any way to combat this? Shall I bring her to future events with dirt smeared all over her face? Is there something I can say that will actually be effective in convincing her that her appearance isn't the most important part of her? That she should not care whether other people approve of her appearance or not? I have tried so hard to shelter her from the mass media's women-and-girls-are-defined-by-their-physical-attractiveness bullsh*t, and I just feel undermined.
post #2 of 63
I don't think you can change what other people say to your daughter, but I think that how you react to it, and how much emphasis you put on her looks, will have much more of an impact on her.
I think that if you don't give it a second thought ,neither will she.
post #3 of 63
What was your daughter's reaction to the comments?

I think that for most people, when at a big awards ceremony with folks dressed to the nines, it's just 'what you say', ya know? One night of hearing "you're beautiful" will not affect your lifetime of telling her that she's beautiful because of what's on the inside.
post #4 of 63
I don't quite understand. Unless my child is solving math problems or presenting a science experiment to strangers I don't expect that they'll recognize how smart they are.

I think it feels pretty good when someone tells me I'm beautiful!

I've taught my children to say, "Thank you" when they receive any kind of compliment and then we go about our day. Really I feel like it's more about just making conversation than anything else.
post #5 of 63
We get this a lot with our DD too - and part of it is that DD is so animated and verbal - which I think adds to her physcial attractiveness (sorry, I'm the mom...I can brag!).

Quote:
I have tried so hard to shelter her from the mass media's women-and-girls-are-defined-by-their-physical-attractiveness bullsh*t, and I just feel undermined.
I understand where you are coming from, but I think there is a huge difference. Mass media, in my opinion, attempts to set a standard of physical attractiveness, whereas when people comment on an individual's physical appearance - it is about the person - not some unattainable (sp?) standard. Mass media is selling a product, whether it be physical attributes or happiness. There is no shame in hearing or knowing that you are physically attractive. However, if individuals are taught that only physical attractiveness is valued, then there is a problem. That's where we, as parents, can try to provide some balance to the equation.

One way that I have countered this is that when people tell DD that she is beautiful, I quickly add something about DD's accomplishments. For example: Other person: "You are beautiful!" Me: "DD just learned to ride her scooter on one leg!" Or: "DD did some really interesting paintings last night." It immediately takes the focus off her physical attributes and directs it to something that DD has accomplished. It opens the conversation to things that DD can do, rather than how she appears.
post #6 of 63
Im not sure that I would be all that upset by this. If I met you and your daughter, and shes beautiful, I would probably tell her so.

Being beautiful can mean more things then just what you look like, which is probably how I would approach it with a 4 year old if it bothers you that much.
post #7 of 63
Thread Starter 
I think when one gets a lot of compliments, one can come to rely on them. I know it has happened to me (e.g., when I was pregnant and people were constantly telling me I was skinny). I have also seen that DD is (already!!!) overly dependent on other people's opinions. She told me not long ago that she hates her name and wants to change it. Apparently a little girl on the playground told her it was "strange." FWIW, her name is also often complimented.

Maybe I'm alone in worrying about these things. Is it really normal to compliment strangers on their physical appearance when first meeting them??? If people did that to me, I would be really, really annoyed by the third or fourth time it happened. I think it makes more sense to ask about them, or to comment on something that you share in common.
post #8 of 63
Quote:
I've taught my children to say, "Thank you" when they receive any kind of compliment and then we go about our day.
Me too.
post #9 of 63
I think that saying something to the people doing this, especially if your dd is around, can be more harmful than hearing people tell her she is beautiful so you should be careful about what you say. I used to say "yes and she is very smart and fun to be around too!" I don't think it is horrible for kids to hear nice things about themselves from other people but contradicting people when they say nice things can do a lot of damage to kids perception of themselves.
post #10 of 63
Don't you think it's kind of nice to be told you look pretty every once in a while? I know I do. Especially when I'm all dressed up for a special event.

It would be different if it was *you* making a big fuss about how pretty she was, and if that was all she ever got complimented on.

I think learning how to graciously accept a compliment is a good life skill to learn as well (and one I'm not very good at.)
post #11 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by RebeccaWo View Post
What was your daughter's reaction to the comments?

I think that for most people, when at a big awards ceremony with folks dressed to the nines, it's just 'what you say', ya know? One night of hearing "you're beautiful" will not affect your lifetime of telling her that she's beautiful because of what's on the inside.
Yes. This. Unless you took her in bike shorts and a dirty t-shirt, I'm guessing she did look beautiful.

If I spend time on my hair and makeup, somebody had BETTER notice.
post #12 of 63
I'm not sure little kids interpret "Your beautiful" the same way older kids and adults do. I know when my preschooler puts her hands on my face and says "You're a beautiful fairy princess" she's being affectionate and wants me to feel special, not that she thinks I look pretty right then. Hey she said it once after hours of yard work when I was covered in a fine layer of dirt from mowing.

If you compliment your child on a variety of things I don't think people telling them they are beautiful is going to mess them up.
post #13 of 63
I see a lot of kids where I work. The first thing I say to them is usually "Hi! How are you?" Some smile, answer, something. Some look at me like I fell off the moon. My choices then are to walk away, or try to engage them further. Sometimes it's "hey - cool tshirt!" or "I love your hat!" Sometimes... the best I can come up with is "you're a handsome young man!" or "what a pretty young lady you are!". If that's insulting, maybe I'll just walk away next time.

FYI... I never saw a problem with people complimenting my kids. <shrug>
post #14 of 63
I can't really see getting upset by that, and I don't think it is a "girls must be gorgeous" thing.

I have three boys. From birth onward one of the most common comments from strangers I've gotten is "You have such beautiful/handsome boys".

When they're dressed in their "Sunday best", the comments roll in even faster. It seems like at a ceremony/dinner, where the expectation is to dress/be beautiful, "You're so beautiful" would be a pretty normal, harmless compliment.
post #15 of 63
I understand where you are coming from. I want my DD to be able to critically view her environment and not buy into society's definition of beautiful.

At the same time, I don't think it's that big of a deal. You can't stop people from calling her beautiful. I've probably said similar things to girls (and told boys "don't you look handsome")... especially if it is apparent that they dressed up. If people dress up, it IS to look beautiful or handsome. I'm sure you dressed her so that she looked good (or pretty).

FWIW, compliments won't occur as often when your DD gets older. It is easy for strangers to compliment a child... it's also a good way to start talking with you.

You aren't undermined. You will have plenty of opportunities to teach you DD values that don't revolve around beauty. When she's older you can have discussions about beauty that is portrayed in commercials, magazines, in stores, in pictures... etc, etc....

I don't know if I made any sense.... I hold a similar viewpoint as you and it is one difficult task. Good Luck!
post #16 of 63
I understand where you're coming from, but I can understand the other viewpoint too. DD (3 years)gets complimented A LOT! Yep, she's cute, but I would like people to notice her other qualitites too. She has, however, solved this problem herself. She simply shouts back, "I IS NOT!" She has good manners the rest of the time....
post #17 of 63
I tell my daughter that she is beautiful everyday. I tell that her smile is so beautiful that it makes my heart melt, that seeing her nurse her babydolls is beautiful, that her big brown eyes are so pretty when they twinkle. When she hears how beautiful she is from other people, it doesn't bother me at all.
post #18 of 63
OP, you are getting an interesting amount of dissent here. I for one see the problem with this the same way you do. It would never occur to me to tell a small child "You are beautiful." Interestingly, I might say something to the parent, because parents enjoy their children's beauty and enjoy hearing these things (IME). But usually I am saying this to friends, and there's a shared value system already in place.

We try to talk to our kid about how we don't think it is polite to spend a lot of time talking about other people's appearances, because what interests us most is how other people think, feel, and act. I catch myself doing a lot of the "cool shoes!" chit chat with kids, too, and I am trying to cut back on that a bit. Because it is a subtle but persistent signal that our clothes & "prettiness" are valued very highly.
post #19 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by arb View Post
OP, you are getting an interesting amount of dissent here.
I sure am! It's not at all what I expected, to be honest.
post #20 of 63
both my girld get told they're cute or beautiful all the time. I really don't see the problem. Its not undermining me, it makes them feel good about themselves. I know it makes me feel good when I am told I am beautiful. As they get older I'll talk to them about media pressure when the time comes. Till then people can feel free to tell my kids they're beautiful (they are after all )
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