My 4 1/2 year old DD has been asking me this lately. On one hand, I get the desire to be told something reassuring and positive about your appearance, but on the other hand, it's kind of breaking my heart. I know some of this is my baggage--my desire for her to feel good about herself--to know she is smart, strong, funny and unique, as well as pretty, and my worries about what lengths she would possibly go to if she doesn't believe this for herself as she gets older. She is a cute kid and often gets compliments from others about her appearance, but she also gets just as many compliments about other things (she's smart, friendly, cheerful, etc). I know I can't totally prevent her from becoming overly reliant on what other people say about how she looks, but whenever I hear the news about how little girls want to diet, tweens ask strangers over the internet if they are pretty, etc, etc, I just want to do whatever I can to help her get through the storms of growing up a girl in this culture as best as possible.
I know there's not one simple, right answer about what to do about this, but I'd be interested to hear what other mamas are doing about this with their girls, especially in the younger years.