Should your girl be told she is beautiful?

My daughter is blessed with many aunties and each time any of them meet my kiddo, they greet her by complimenting on her looks. Frankly speaking, the seven-year old is adorable; with straight silky hair and a cute face which dons an easy laughter, she could melt anybody’s heart.  So whoever meets her for the first time promptly tells “Beautiful girl”.  At the same time I know I am not the only mother who has a beautiful daughter. All over the world parents HAVE beautiful girls prancing around the home with all their cuteness.

In my opinion, if there is nothing extraordinary about being beautiful then why we adults go gaga over a girl’s appearance. Is it because we have this pre-conceived notion about “beauty” where we narrow it down outward appearance. Or is it that “Look at you! you are so cute” is the only standard icebreaker line left when we meet little girls. Hold this thought for a moment and lets first see the repercussions of the comment “You gorgeous thing” on the mind of a young girl. Ok let’s take my daughter only as an example.

Only a few days back while she was getting ready for her basket-ball class, I saw my daughter frantically searching for something. Upon being inquired, she said she was looking for her favorite hairband. I told her she doesn’t need to wear a hairband while playing a sport, instead, should tie her hair back in a pony. Not convinced with my logic, she got really upset and said she wanted her glittery pink hairband only as according to her “I look good if I wear that hairband which matches my t-shirt too.”

To tell you another instance; my daughters’ one of the favorite aunts always greet her by saying, “Welcome my most beautiful one”. So whenever we visit her, my little one makes an extra effort to dress up nicely just to receive her accolades.

As a 4-5 year old it was not uncommon to see her responding to all the endearing adjectives directed at her by just smiling coyly or inching closer to me.  Slowly as she started getting to  know more about beauty and looks; thanks to looking at the beauty ads on television, watching well-groomed actresses in movies and listening to the way people greet little girls(commenting casually about beauty), her growing belief that appearance does matter augmented. And I fear by the time she becomes a  young lady, she will be so conditioned on receiving compliments on her looks that  if someday , at college, at work or at any social gathering, she won’t receive any flattering remark, she might panic giving a blow to her self-assured spirit.

Don’t get me wrong , it’s not that I don’t like  my friends or relatives saying nice things about my daughter’s appearance ,  after all, who does likes to be complimented; it’s a great confidence booster but it disturbs me when people, on meeting her, instantly  label  her “a beauty” rather than asking a simple question “how do you do?” Not many know that she is much more than a pretty face; she is an individual who is strong, intelligent, talented and hard-working. She loves to talk about the books she read, the sport she plays, the art/craft work she makes. I just hope people have some intelligent conversation with her rather than telling her how “cute”, “adorable”, “sweet”, “pretty she is.

And for those mothers who share my concern  of our  social surroundings burdening our little girls with the pressure of good looks and beauty, I suggest since we can’t do much to change our socio-culture (people WILL gush over beauty) , we our self should make a conscious effort to choose our words carefully while complementing our daughters. At least, this will keep them grounded from the beginning by helping them understand that the beauty is not the parameter to bolster their self-esteem and confidence.

In an effort to shake off false sense of beauty from my daughter’s mind I have made some changes in my behavior: I make it a point to not pass vague remarks regarding anybody’s looks, skin color, height, weight etc., at least in front of my daughter. I don’t fret over what she chooses to wear or how she styles her hair. Even if I have to compliment , it goes like this “ I love the way you have done your hair.”, “Nice choice with the dress.”,  “The necklace you are wearing  goes well with the dress.”, “Those shoes look really comfortable, isn’t’ it?”  My intention on saying such politically correct statement is to steer her focus on imagination and creativity rather than fixate her thoughts on outer beauty.

Besides, I keep talking to my daughter about her interests, activities, behavior etc, just to hint her subtly that these are the thing which matters more (than beauty) to develop a good persona.

Before signing off, here’s my list of alternative label we can address the girls with:

Strong

Healthy

Generous

Intelligent

Brave

Smart

Curious

Athletic

Funny

Good friend

Expressive

Patient

Nice sibling…

(Any other compliment readers want to add?)

 

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10 thoughts on “Should your girl be told she is beautiful?”

  1. That’s a beautiful post Milan. I feel its high time when we change our mindset where the only adjective used for girls is-Beautiful. This word might be taxing in some or the other ways and the definition of beauty which is limited to few words. We can always keep our kids away from these or make them understand that everything is beautiful!

    1. Yes Ekta by praising my daughter using some alternative labels and by remaining mindful of the choice of words I use while talking to her (as mentioned in the blog), I try to teach my daughter that there are multiple facets to the word “beauty” which is not just restricted to appearance.

  2. Yes we should and also things like you are strong, you can do it, dont compare and things that bring u down in life. Let them know they just need to keep their spirits high

    1. beautiful thought Debolina. n yes, the way we talk to our girls makes a difference. Thanks for sharing your views.

  3. Time to ponder! Yes you are right that we do burden our little giris with the idea of beauty to some extent. I feel it is a worldwide issue and we need to bring in a change in attitude so that this obsession with “looking beautiful’ at all times is curbed. I also feel this is natural but yes we can always curb our approach and compliment youngsters by observing their strengths and telling them that they are — witty, humble, caring, soft spoken, helpful, etc.

    1. precisely Geeta, thats the whole point of the blog- all that is needed is a slight shift in the language when we talk to our girls. thanks for adding a few more adjectives to the list of “alternative labels.”

  4. I loved the alternatives that you have suggested Milan. Most of the times, these meaningless comments can leave a permanent mark on the child and they begin to believe that looking beautiful is most important. Though looking presentable is important, beauty cannot be their focus at this age.

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