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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
DD is still an infant, so I need wisdom from moms of older girls. Do you have any strategies for letting her know that she is valuable chiefly for her brains, talents, and spunky personality? It breaks my heart to hear people comment only on little girls' long eye lashes or pretty hair. DD IS a beautiful baby with giant, cherubic eyes! But heaven knows, she's going to get plenty of that Disney-Princess pressure when she's older...

Any insights into this would be helpful!
 

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This is an issue near and dear to my heart.... (see siggy)

My personal belief is that my girls will respond less to the random people who comment on looks/clothes/lovely hair etc than to how we treat them on a daily basis. So while I do tell my girls that they are lovely, or they have beautiful hair (who doesn't want to hear that?) I try to keep my focus on who they are - that they are clever, kind, generous, thoughtful, strong, etc. And my parents/IL's know that is what I want stressed, not that they are "sooooo pretty".....

If I can find the words, I try to find a non-confrontational way to add that type of thing in - say we see an acquaintance, who says how attractive she is, I can add "today we are especially proud of her, since she was in the spelling bee/moved up a level in swim class/shared her scooter with her sister/etc....

I am also interested in what others have to say....
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Turquesa View Post
Do you have any strategies for letting her know that she is valuable chiefly for her brains, talents, and spunky personality?
just tell her


However, I differ from you in that I think humans are valuable just because they *are,* not because of anything else. All the other stuff is fun, but a child growing up thinking that their self worth comes from any of this stuff is going to be a little twisted. Kids who think their value comes from being smart can end up just as messed up as kids who think their value comes from being decorative.

Quote:
It breaks my heart to hear people comment only on little girls' long eye lashes or pretty hair. DD IS a beautiful baby with giant, cherubic eyes!
ummmm, babies are beautiful, and quite honestly they don't do much else.


There really isn't a lot for other people to comment on except how pretty they are. When she is a little older making choices and trying things and stretching her wings, there will a lot more to talk about.

I have two DDs (now 9 and 11) and while they are both very pretty and sometimes people mention it, there is sooooo much more going on with them to talk about. They play sports, make art, read interesting books, and have opinions. Other people comment to them on all these things -- even mainstream people talk to them about what they are DOING far more than about how they LOOK.

Quote:
Any insights into this would be helpful!
Enjoy your baby's beauty and enjoy other people noticing it.
: It's all good. When she is older, let her dress the way she wants to, but make sure that she always has mucky clothes for playing in dirt or experiementing with art supplies. Encourage to try all sorts of different things.

I differ from some moms on mothering because I think that organized sports are great for kids. They teach (among other things) that their bodies are good for something besides being decorative.
 

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I tell her. I tell her she's beautiful to me but I also tell her I like the way she thinks and the way she treats others...

Also, I don't say, "You look beautiful in that shirt." I say, "That shirt looks beautiful on you." I know it's a subtle difference but this is how I operate.

My dd is at an age where she enjoys picking her own clothes out. Some days, a stranger might not be able to tell she is a "girl." Some days, she's decked out in a dress and hair clips and pink all over.

Where I live, the idea of "beautiful" is extremely limited to one certain look. It's one reason I'm moving away from this city. I know it's hard to get away from lookism but it seems to be terrible in Prague.
 

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This may or may not work for your dd, but it did work for me.

When your dd gets to the age of getting a little mouthy as she asserts her independence, watch how you respond to that. My mother tolerated quite a bit of lip from me, but never allowed me to be disrespectful. It's a fine line. While I did hear "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything," from my dad, my mom allowed me to freely express my thoughts and opinions. She said that she did this because she knew that society would do its best to kick my spunk out of me, and she wanted to give me a running start.

I've needed my spunk to survive and make hard, unpopular decisions all my life. I've needed my spunk to try things that were out of my comfort zone. I did learn some tact along the way
, but I'm pretty comfortable standing up for myself - even when I don't feel like anyone else is on my side.

Aside from this, it's all about developing healthy self-esteem, honoring and supporting your dd for who she is, allowing her to make mistakes and helping her find ways to correct those mistakes. It's one thing to tell her that she is a wonderful, smart, etc. human, and this is very important, but it's a greatly different approach to allow her to discover who she is and why she is important.
 

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I don't see anything wrong with telling a child that they are beautiful or have beautiful eyes/hair etc.... Who doesn't love to hear that? I just don't put more or less value on it than I do when I tell them that they are smart, clever, funny, interesting etc... It's also not a focus for us. We don't focus on beauty - we focus on other things. For example, when my DD gets dressed all by herself and then comes in wanting praise, I see nothing wrong with saying "Oh honey! You look beautiful! What a great job you did matching colors. I love how that blue shows off how sparkly your eyes are" or something like that.

But, I agree with the PP who said it goes so much further than just commenting on how someone looks. It's a whole way of helping them develop their sense of self, independent of how they look. We do that too - I want my children to discover thier voice so, I allow them to voice thieir opinions, thoughts, emotions without fear as long as they are not disrespectful.
 

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What was really hurtful for me was hearing the constant negative comments from my family.

I wasn't bad looking but I was a bit chubby which of course is totally unacceptable in my family. I'm still trying to get over the comments and attitudes.

I don't think it's wrong to tell any child that they are beautiful as long as it isn't conditional (You're pretty when you wear that or whatever).

IMO ALL children are beautiful even though some are genetically blessed with symmetrical features that will make them conventionally attactive when they are older.
 

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If your children are raised by thoughtful, aware parents I'm convinced that it will all even out.

There has to be a lot more going on for a girl to feel valued only by being "pretty"...people/parents telling her she's beautiful isn't going to do that.

My mom told my sister and I that we were beautiful all the time. On the days I wasn't feeling so beautiful, it made me feel really good. I'm also highly intelligent, funny, spunky, rebellious and a fighter....

I tell DD she's pretty. Because I'm her mom and she'll ALWAYS be beautiful to me.
 

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In my view it's important to affirm any child for who she is (her actions, her views, her consideration of others, her talents) and this can be done without leaving out "you're beautiful!" They're not mutually exclusive.

I am more concerned, frankly, that my daughter will be praised or accepted because of what she *consumes* than because of how she looks. Because when I look at the beauty industry what I mostly see is rampant consumerism and an encouragement for girls and women to judge each other based on what handbag they're carrying or how expensive their jeans (or toys) were.

In my view it's actually harder work to combat the "you are what you consume" thing than the "you are special because you're pretty" thing. Of course they're tied together
 

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I'm wary of talking about how my daughter looks. Our society teaches us as women that our main (or in some cases only) value is in how desirable we are to men. I really hate that.

My sister was a very pretty little girl, and people told her she was beautiful, and they meant it, and she was. When she grew up, she was no longer particularly attractive, but she had really internalized this idea that her value was tied up in her looks and she is still, at 45, dealing with this.

I was a funny looking kid, and no one ever complimented me on my looks. As a result, I don't care if people approve of how I look. I can promise you that I am much happier than my sister.

People don't tell their sons how handsome they are all the time. They do occasionally, and at that level it's probably harmless for girls as well. Although when people talk about their sons being handsome they don't have all of society backing up to the boys that their attractiveness is the most important part of them.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by chicagomom View Post
In my view it's actually harder work to combat the "you are what you consume" thing than the "you are special because you're pretty" thing. Of course they're tied together
This is a very good point. In the small community I grew up in, I didn't even know what designer jeans were until I was in high school. Some of my friends had cars when they could drive, but they were used cars or cars that used to be their parents'. None of us carried purses, and I think the HOT thing was a walkman of the cassette-variety.

But holy cow! When I went to college, I was amazed at what I saw! It wasn't that my parents couldn't have afforded me a whole wardrobe of designer clothes or my own new car, but they chose not to. I had traveled abroad, but my parents wouldn't even entertain a conversation about me owning my own car. Thankfully, by the time I got to college, I was pretty well rooted in my self-worth, and while I noticed what the other women "had," I wasn't particularily interested in running out to get one of my own. However, I'm pretty sure that if I had been exposed to a lot of "consumerism" when I was younger, I'd have had a different thought process - more like in keeping up with the Joneses.
 

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Love that i saw this thread!

Being a mother of FIVE girls, i am always reminding them that they are beautiful, but they also are very smart and talented.

My oldest DD is a very beautiful child, she gets "Oh youre so pretty" from strangers all the time, she is luckily a pretty good kid and wise beyond her years but from time to time her ego can grow, i just remind her that you also play the piano SO well, your smart, you have more to offer than just your looks.

I am the youngest of four three of us being girls and my mom told my sisters and i that "In fifty years youre gonna be old and wrinkly people wont care about what you look like."

It's a never ending thing because as soon as i tell one of my DDs or my niece, that they dont have to be the prettiest girl to accomplish something they turn around and people (TV, Media) are telling them they have to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
just tell her


However, I differ from you in that I think humans are valuable just because they *are,* not because of anything else. All the other stuff is fun, but a child growing up thinking that their self worth comes from any of this stuff is going to be a little twisted. Kids who think their value comes from being smart can end up just as messed up as kids who think their value comes from being decorative.
Yes, we definitely differ on this issue. It is my strongest belief that children do more than just *be* or exist. EVERY child has unique and special talents that make him/her intrinsically valuable, and pointing out this inner beauty to a child is far from "twisted."

Quote:

Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
Enjoy your baby's beauty and enjoy other people noticing it.
Overall, I do.


But to clarify, my greater concern is not people complimenting my baby. It pertains to raising a girl in a society that (I think) is heavily lookist.

http://www.geocities.com/s_cullars/lookism.htm

Quote:

Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
I differ from some moms on mothering because I think that organized sports are great for kids. They teach (among other things) that their bodies are good for something besides being decorative.
Now on this we agree!
 

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dd is only 2, but we already tell her that she's sweet, funny, athletic, sensitive, artistic, smart etc etc.

we also tell her that she's beautiful. and that she's cute.

we mostly do it in a very alfie kohn-esque descriptive way, though. for example: "i see how you drew the picture with so many colors, what an artist you are." etc.

it is all an honest expression of how we feel about her, and we acknowledge and validate without putting it into a conditional, evaluative context. i don't know how i can separate comments regarding her appearance from all of her other attributes, and doing so seems a bit disingenuous to me. i think you can run into as many problems by not mentioning physical attributes too.

it's all about balance.

Quote:

attachedmamaof3 If your children are raised by thoughtful, aware parents I'm convinced that it will all even out.
yes, this. we can counteract the effects of a 'lookist', superficial, appearance based society. not to derail the thread at all, but one of the ways that i hope/plan to do this is to really minimize mainstream media in our house, not by curbing my honest expression of but one of many characteristics of my daughter. there are some extremely damaging ideals about body appearance that are pervasive and i really want to keep my daughter from being exposed to that as much as humanly possible. goodness knows, i'm well in my thirties and I'M affected by it. that's not something that i want my dd to have to battle with, if at all possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by LauraLoo View Post
This may or may not work for your dd, but it did work for me.

When your dd gets to the age of getting a little mouthy as she asserts her independence, watch how you respond to that. My mother tolerated quite a bit of lip from me, but never allowed me to be disrespectful. It's a fine line. While I did hear "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything," from my dad, my mom allowed me to freely express my thoughts and opinions. She said that she did this because she knew that society would do its best to kick my spunk out of me, and she wanted to give me a running start.

I've needed my spunk to survive and make hard, unpopular decisions all my life. I've needed my spunk to try things that were out of my comfort zone. I did learn some tact along the way
, but I'm pretty comfortable standing up for myself - even when I don't feel like anyone else is on my side.

Aside from this, it's all about developing healthy self-esteem, honoring and supporting your dd for who she is, allowing her to make mistakes and helping her find ways to correct those mistakes. It's one thing to tell her that she is a wonderful, smart, etc. human, and this is very important, but it's a greatly different approach to allow her to discover who she is and why she is important.
There's something profound in what you're saying. If I raise her to have the kind of strength that you developed, she'll be more confident and better equipped to live in a society that no single one of us can change. At least that's the conclusion that I come to from what you're saying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by chicagomom View Post
In my view it's actually harder work to combat the "you are what you consume" thing than the "you are special because you're pretty" thing. Of course they're tied together
Absolutely! Lookism is certainly promoted by media/commercialization, if not created by it!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
just tell her


However, I differ from you in that I think humans are valuable just because they *are,* not because of anything else. All the other stuff is fun, but a child growing up thinking that their self worth comes from any of this stuff is going to be a little twisted. Kids who think their value comes from being smart can end up just as messed up as kids who think their value comes from being decorative.
There was actually an excellent article in NY Magazine fairly recently about this. Kids who were told they were smart without it being somehow communicated that smart wasn't just something you were born with but something that could be worked at and developed tend to stop trying and won't do things they consider hard b/c to them smart should come easily.

I think you're right in that saying to a child you're smart, spunky or beautiful can become commodities and children can think we value them for that rather than who they are. (maybe you aren't saying that) I agree with the poster that said it's a harder battle to convince children they aren't X b/c they own Y. I think the struggle it to help your child not compartmentalize themselves while still letting them know they have wonderful traits whether it's beauty, brains, spunk or whatever.
 

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These are the things we do...

· We don't watch TV
· We don't consume commercial products
· We don't judge other people on their appearance
· We talk about the opportunity cost of clothing, and we choose things we like, but dd knows they cost money that
could be spent on other things or that her working parent(s) could be home more instead
· We don't listen to mainstream radio
· We don't have mainstream magazines in the house

· When dd tells me she loves me because I'm soft (her daddy's "scritchy"), I tell her "I love you because you're you."

· When we're not pleased with a behavioral choice, we tell dd that we don't like X, Y or Z behavior and why and how it makes us feel, but that we will always love her no matter what she does

· In contrast to some other posters, we do not praise our dc's accomplishments. I highly recommend you read Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting (and Punished By Rewards) on this topic

You do have time, so read, read, read now. PM me if you want more reading suggestions.

Me
: Erin (3½)
Sara
DH
 

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We tell our daughter she's beautiful, let her know when we are excited about something she's done--it's less a "good girl" type of thing, but more a "thanks for getting me that napkin, that was thoughtful" or "wow, you just sounded out that word by yourself--I didn't realize you could do that yet!" or "look how fast you can run--can I call you Speedy from now on?" type of thing.

I think when she was an infant, I mostly started by becoming very conscious of how I was seeing and interacting with other children--because your child will not only pay attention to what you say to her, but also be very aware of what you see in others.
 
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