Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Please, say this instead.

Yesterday, Cletus Ain't Right posted a blog titled Yeah, I'm talking to you fatty... In it, he raises the never ending question of why women can't embrace themselves as they are (physically), imperfections and all. He basically tells us that there's nothing we can do at this exact second in time to change how we look and the best we can hope for is to enjoy this second by smiling and being who we are.

He's right, of course, and every woman who read his blog and suffers from insecurity regarding our self-image knows it. That doesn't mean it will stop.

Let me tell you where I think it starts.

For any of you who have a daughter or any of you who have gone to visit friends or family with a newborn daughter, the first thing you hear (or say) is something to the effect of, "Oh! She's so beautiful."

Henceforth, in this blog, I will refer to daughters, but, please, even if you don't have a daughter, think of the little girls you do know. It doesn't really matter how old they are, this is great for wives and girlfriends, too.

The skin-deep compliments continue from our daughters' first day of life on through their childhood.

"You look so pretty!"

Over and over and over we tell them how adorable they look. And they do. Every single one of them. Is it any wonder, though, that our daughters grow up thinking (however subconsciously) that physical beauty is a very important trait to possess? Is it any wonder that, as they grow and their physical "imperfections" develop, they look at who is being complimented like they once were and begin to create idealized versions of what beauty is, against which they will measure themselves?

I'm not saying it's wrong to tell our daughters that they're beautiful. Even at my age, when my boyfriend tells me I'm beautiful, it makes me glow. He may not even be having a "God, she's beautiful!" moment, but he cares enough about me to say something that will make me feel good. I don't think that we should never tell our girls that they're beautiful.

I only think there should be more of these, far more:

"Wow, you are incredibly clever!"

"What an intelligent girl you are!"

"Where does your creativity come from?"

"Your coordination is amazing!"

"That is the wisest thing I've heard someone say in a long time."

"You are so talented!"

"You always know how to make me smile."

"You just might be the funniest girl I know."

"How do you always know how to make me feel so happy?"

"I am so proud of you, every day."

"I have the most caring daughter on the planet."

I promise you, these things are more true and more important than telling your daughter she's beautiful will ever be. That's not to say she isn't beautiful, only that beauty is relative and, in hope that she never has to ask herself what her beauty is relative to, we, as parents, should help her focus on the infinite traits she possesses that make her truly beautiful. That beauty is the kind that radiates from within.

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