My daughter is beautiful. Yes, I am her mother so I am a bit biased. But I have also heard others admire her, comment on her pretty face, her sweet smile, her loveliness. So, though I have front row seats to the beauty pageant that is my daughter, she has her share of admirers.
Ok, what does this have to do with anything at all? Well, I have been reading article after article lately on how we shouldn’t emphasize beauty in our daughters. I have read about the negativity attached to complimenting them on their looks. I understand what is meant by these articles. After all, I live in this world too. I see what is happening around us. I see the eating disorders and the self esteem problems and the false images flashed on magazine covers.
I know that little girls are crumbling under the pressure of expectation. I know that this world is full of a corrupt view of what is beautiful. I know that I don’t want my daughter to think that that beauty out there, the things the world tells her are beauty, have anything to do with real beauty.
The thing is, when I compliment my daughter, when I tell her she looks lovely, that she is pretty, when her father looks at her after telling me I look beautiful and tells her she looks beautiful too, well, these are for real. That’s not the world validating her, that’s two people who love her unconditionally just adding one more thing to the long list of other wonderful gifts she already possesses.
Because we don’t stop at her looks, we also compliment her ability to make us laugh, figure out a new math problem, share with her brother, help me in the kitchen, learn to use tools with dad. Beauty is just one of the many things my little girl has to give the world but I want her to hear it from me not from a boy in high school who doesn’t have her best interest in mind or from strangers and other unknown sources.
Our daughters need to hear they are beautiful and they need to hear it from the people that matter, the people that will say it in the right ways and in the most heartfelt ways and in the ways that reach into their souls.
I want my daughter’s beauty to be real and deep and as internal as it is external. Yes, beauty is only skin deep, if it isn’t nurtured properly. So I will nurture her beauty properly, here at home. I will let her know how to handle her beauty. I will show her how to hold her head high, dress modestly, share only as much of herself as the world deserves. Her beauty is her own to share and it is part of a package so complete and full of wonders that those around her will respect and love her for all that she is, much more than just a pretty face.