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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Beauty. Should moms tell their daughters?

A topic I"ve wanted to write a little bit about the past year is how I"ve noticed that some moms tell their daughters that they are beautiful. Very frequently. I have made a very conscious choice to not tell Nora she is beautiful very much...just on a very rare holiday occasion when she is dressed up special. Why is it that moms say "you're beautiful" all the time? Are they saying "I love you" -just with different words?

As a mom raising a daughter, I'd rather my daughter hear, "You biked that hill so well!" or "I'm so proud how you're learning your letters"...praises for actions or skills which she has gained. THere is something about praising beauty so frequently that seems superficial. If you hear something over and over again, it doesn't mean as much when you hear it and perhaps you don't believe it as much. Plus, what does a 2 or 3 or 4 year old really think or how does she digest that info? Does she even have enough of a sense of "self" to even fully process it?

I decided to google this topic and see what I came up with. Am I crazy for even putting any time or thought into this at all? A few hits came up, so this re-assured me that other moms share a similar dilemna with their daughters.

Jane Shure on the Huffington Post writes, "The following question posed as a statement, helped me realize just how confused today's parents are:
"We shouldn't be telling our daughters that they are beautiful because that would only feed in to reinforcing the importance she holds about her looks." Stunned at what I was hearing from well educated, thoughtful, feminist minded mothers, I burst forth with a rant that sounded something like the following:
"Of course we need to tell our daughters that they are beautiful. Let me assure you that your daughters are exposed to negative messaging all day long, every day of every week, picking them apart and diminishing their sense of self. I promise you that it won't go to their head and inflate their sense of being. There's plenty in their world offsetting that as a possibility."


I agree that as daughters get older into the more insecure, hormonal teen years, it is important for them to feel beautiful, so perhaps telling them more often could be of benefit. More importantly, however, is that a girl is raised with good self-confidence, and that will make her beautiful and help her feel beautiful.

For now I"m going to continue not telling Nora (or Stuey) that they are beutiful--my feeling is that it only perpetuates the concept that beauty is skin deep. Also, as I read the draft of this to Patrick he asked, "Isn't saying I love you all the time the same thing? It lessens the power of the words?". Perhaps this is true. Although it seems impossible to send out too many "i Love yous" to our kiddos.


Kids on our way to Michigan in the Kodiak rainy parking lot.
Patrick and I. Taken a few days ago. Today is our 7 year wedding anniversary!


Sven, Balika and the girls said...

I agree! Same thing about saying "you're smart"... leads to kids feeling like if something IS hard for them then they are stupid...

Mike, Alisa and Elias said...

I gave Elias a big hug and told him he was a beautiful boy when he shared his favorite toy with a friend. The word stirs a lot of issues w girls and it is great you are thinking about it! miss you xxo Alisa