I came across an ST article titled “Don’t call my little girl pretty” and it just wouldn’t let me go, especially this quote.
“In today’s image-obsessed world where women subconsciously take part in a daily beauty pageant, I fear raising a vain, vacuous girl who prizes looks above all else.”
That reminded me a little of myself. Not the image-obsessed part. But the fear of raising a vain, vacuous girl part.
Because I really don’t want to raise a vain Vera.
Since last year, at around age 2-point-something, she’s been looking at herself in the mirror, and going ‘Vera so pretty’.
I guess most of us would think that’s normal. I mean, she is a girl after all. What else can we expect her to say? ‘Wow. I’m so big and tall’?
So, from time to time, I would remind the daddy and the grannies not to keep harping on Vera’s outward appearance, and to focus on her positive character traits and talents as well. It’s also a reminder for myself not to do that, actually.
As a once-upon-a-time little girl, I remember being told quite often by family and friends that I was a “pretty /sweet girl”. (Hmm, hard to imagine that now…after two babies. Ahh nevermind.) But I don’t remember being described as “kind” or “generous” as much. Though I’m pretty sure I did try to be those things. *blink*
Ahem. Back to my original point. I really don’t want to raise a vainpot of a Vera. What I’d like to raise? A child of God. Who knows her value is not in her looks. Who doesn’t mind what the world thinks beauty is. Who is confident in her own skin and the talents that God has bestowed upon her. That’s well-adjusted, to me.
But how do we help a child to be like that?
According to the article, the trick is “not to make a big deal about appearances”.
So, if she looks nice in a dress, it’s okay to compliment her, and say that she looks nice/cute/adorable in that particular dress, without gushing too much or being overly dramatic. (Which I confess doing sometimes, just to get her to put on her dress so that we can get out of the house.)
But I think it also helps to grow our repertoire of adjectives for our little girls (and boys, for that matter). When they are helpful, thoughtful, kind, caring, witty, or good at something, tell them so. Don’t limit your words to: clever girl, well done, or good job.” (These phrases don’t mean anything, they’re not specific about anything, and are often just judgmental.)
So, the article suggests, the next time someone comments that your little girl is pretty, acknowledge that, but try adding a character trait or talent to it. For instance, she’s also creative, musically-inclined, or swims well.
“Pretty”, you say? Oh, she is creative and helpful too.
Do you share the same worries about your little girl, or am I the only paranoid mum around? 😛