I just read the article, “how to talk to little girls” by Latina Fatale.
And I just wanted to write a quick response to it.
(click on the article name for a link to read her blog post)
It says in there that we need to by counter-cultural and not talk to little girls by praising their appearance or their clothes. She gives a great example conversation to practically see what she means.
I completely agree with her but you might be surprised to know –
its only on one hand.
In a heartbeat I say yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
I want my daughters to be praised for their character. I want my daughters to know how capable and smart and wonderful they are. I want them to be confident in their abilities, bold in their identities as people and to find their value in who they are in Christ.
I don’t want them to base their worth AT ALL on their physical appearance.
So, yes. I completely agree.
We need to be careful how we praise our children.
We need to be careful how we speak to children.
We need to be thoughtful with what parameters we give them for self-esteem.
We need to be careful to tell them that they are precious because of WHO they are & not just what they look like.
But you know what, damn it. I want my daughters to think they are beautiful.
I want them to think they are beautiful because they know in their hearts that ARE beautiful.
It does not define them.
It does not measure their worth.
It is not the complete value of them.
But you know what.
They are beautiful.
I understand the concept of TRUE BEAUTY and I do not think that it has basis in outward appearance.
I think that this wonderful article and a wealth of parenting experts are asking us to shy away from physical praise because we all know that beauty comes from within.
(The bible says clearly that beauty is not in outward adorning but in a peaceful and quiet Spirit which finds its hope and substance in Jesus.)
But I am just talking now about physical beauty and asking why I should ignore it.
My daughters live in a country where they stand out. They are blonde, with pale white skin and blue eyes… living amid a population completely dark-skinned, with brown eyes and black hair. They have people shouting praises at them. They are met with hands on their cheek and fingers running through their hair. The first word they understood from the local language is ‘cute’ and ‘pretty’.
Do you know what I tell me daughters?
Yes. You are SO beautiful. These people are admiring you because God did a wonderful and amazing thing in your creation. They are loving your design and they have joy in your physical beauty… we can’t hide from this reality. Lets take a moment to thank God for his planned creation of you. Lets take a moment to consider how beautiful too is their black straight hair – wow – it is gorgeous right?
Isn’t it awesome how God made different ethnicities? Isn’t it just majestic how He designed you?
My daughters are beautiful for the very same reason yours are.
Not because they meet some standard of socially acceptable beauty.
Not because they are attractive to some and especially to those ‘who count’.
Not because their features are perfect right now.
But because they were made by a beautiful God.
Maybe instead of trying desperately NOT to tell our young girls that they are pretty, we need to tell them that they are. We need to tell them all and we need to tell them equally.
You show me one woman who does not want to feel beautiful – in herself – & for herself.
You introduce me to one wife who doesn’t care if her husband thinks she is beautiful.
You can’t tell me that beauty has no value.
The article goes on to say that praising little girls for their beauty will set them up to only seek praise for beauty. It lists all the recent trends in young girls desperate to meet societies benchmark. And again I say yes. I agree.
When my kids are flattered day-in and day-out. It is a constant battle to guide them towards an inner voice which doesn’t not find their worth in these compliments. I am desperate for them to no define themselves based on this. But instead of trying to STOP it, instead of phasing out my praise of them, I carry on.
Yes my girl you are so beautiful – and so are they.
So is she. Yep and her. Oh gosh and her too.
Tell our girls that they are beautiful when they are wearing princess dresses.
Tell them when they are wearing pyjamas. Tell them when they are covered in mud, or up a tree or sick in bed. Tell them when they show great kindness and gentleness. Tell them, deliberately, that they are beautiful in each moment.
Tell them that their friends are beautiful. Tell them that their Grandmas are beautiful. Tell them that their siblings are beautiful.
The problem we have as mothers & female role-models, is responding to the fear we have,
that our daughters will seek satisfaction in outward beauty.
We are concerned when they seek validation in outward beauty.
We are desperately grieved by our daughters who let others judge the depth of their beauty – based on appearance.
Let us be diligent to guide them from this, yes.
Let’s make good conversation about books and hopes and praise their individuality.
But let’s not throw the beautiful baby out with the bath water.
I don’t want any girl growing up without being told that she is beautiful.
Not a single one.
Now I know I am coming from a Christian perspective – but still – I think every mother can look at her child (boy or girl, mind) and say that they are truly beautiful.
And I don’t think that it is wrong.
I tell my daughter that I love her physical features. I love her hair and the colour of her eyes. I love her long fingers and I love her voice. I love her freckles and I love the way she walks… I tell my other daughter that I love her different features, equally. I love how she has a curl in her hair just at front there. I love her grin and how her eyes crinkle when she smiles. I love how she is petite and tucks herself up into a ball for a cuddle.
There is NO other girl on earth who looks like either of my girls… that is AWESOME.
Each is unique and special and oh so beautiful.
Your daughter has such depth of value.
She is also very beautiful.
Let her know that.
Dont you think she should know that?
Let her know that it is truth. It is unwavering and unchangeable -so that she knows it. Because people will come into her life who do not tell her. They will judge her and they will overlook her. They will praise her and they will misunderstand her. Let her know that she is beautiful, that she is precious and competent. That she is unique and interesting.
Let her know that she IS beautiful – so she expects to be considered it,
so she expects to be treated as such.
I want my daughters (and sons) to know that every aspect of their physical appearance has value and it has beauty – in spite of whether culture agrees or not – in spite of how loud the voice of culture grows.
Let her know that her physical appearance has value – and it can never be taken away.
It can never be added to & does not fade in times when compliments cease.
Tell her how beautiful EVERY girl is – for exactly the same reasons.
My daughters are beautiful in so many wonderful ways.
My daughters are delightful in so many varied and contrasting ways.
My daughters are gorgeous.
Your daughters are gorgeous.
So, to this article I say bravo and yes and amen sister.
Let’s talk to little girls this way. Let’s teach them to be proud of who they are and to show the depths of their hearts. Speak to them of their abilities, talents and passions. Dream big dreams and tell them that they are precious and unique and special.
But can we also tell them that they are pretty… please?
Can we please tell it to EVERY little girl?
of every ethnicity equally
of every weight range
with freckles and knock knees and huge front teeth
with every eye colour
with long hair and short hair in every colour and tone
of every age and height
Can we tell them – because it is SO true.
Can we tell them that they are beautiful,
for who they are
what they look like
how they were made
(I also do not want my daughters basing their worth on their smarts, their acheivments, career or their ability to make people laugh either… just saying.)