Should We Tell Girls They Are Beautiful?
This question was sparked when I saw a Deseret News article a couple of months ago called “50 Rules for Dads of Daughters.” Most of the suggestions seemed pretty innocuous, some veered toward saccharine, and some might be seen as traditionally father/son activities.
The one that made me sit back and think the most was this one: “Tell her she’s beautiful. Say it over and over again. Someday an animated movie or “beauty” magazine will try to convince her otherwise.”
What do you all think of that? I know I tell my 3 year old daughter she’s beautiful all the time. (I also tell my two sons they are as well.) But I’ve wondered several times if I should tamp down on that. I don’t want her growing up to think that beauty is what defines her. I’d rather her feel self-confident because of her good heart, her generosity, her creativity, her work ethic, her sense of humor, and her ingenuity. And I praise her for those things things as well. But the comments about beauty pop out just as often, and I am uncomfortable with the idea that I might be laying foundations for her to focus on beauty too much later in her life. On the other hand, does it wound a child to never hear a parent praise his/her appearance?
One thing I have noticed about myself is that my comments on beauty are not just aimed at my daughter. I often tell other women that I like their shoes, their dress, their jewelry, that they look great, etc. I’ve come to realize that these comments are sometimes crutches. I might sincerely mean my compliment, but I fall into this discourse often with acquaintances because it’s an easy way to connect with someone — I don’t have to put too much thought into it, and it can easily get a brief conversation started. I suspect, however, that such discourse not only focuses an inappropriate amount of attention on looks, but that it also impedes deeper connection and conversation.
What are your discourse patterns when it comes to beauty? Do you tell girls they are beautiful, and are you comfortable doing so? Should we deliberately limit beauty comments?