They’re not small adults, but they are thinking, doing, feeling human beings who want to be seen and heard for who they are, not for how they look. I love spending time with little kids…they’re funny, smart, sweet, and oh, so curious. Let’s treat them with the kindness and respect we’d like to be treated with, and they’ll grow up to be wonderful adults.
There are more than social graces to be lost in this. Nobody taught me how to recognize situations in which my looks would create jealousy or discord. Going to work, I often had to have one woman or another take me aside and explain that a coworker’s confusing behaviour stemmed from jealousy of my youth or looks. I could recognize a person upset with my productivity, or that I had just impressed a manager, but people who wanted to belittle me so they could be the best looking woman in the room made no sense to me. This was confusing and set me up for failure, or more often mockery, in some of my summer jobs during college. There were a few times it affected me in a classroom, too.
Rah. You got it.
It’s all too easy to fall into the ‘I love that dress’ habit…and while it may be true that the kid, or the dress (or shoes, hair…whatever) are super cute – and it may be an appreciated compliment, as a mother of a girl I have to say that I’m always looking for ways to remind my daughter that there are qualities she has that are admirable that are not appearance-based. She gets that enough, but I want the message to be that her intelligence, curiosity, artistic abilities and other skills are equally valuable.
For those of us who work in the beauty industry, it is easy to get caught up in appearance perfection. It is sad to see the upcoming generations so focused on that physical perfection. This is a great reminder for us to teach these young girls that they have so much more value than how they look, and to nuture those special qualities that hover beneath the surface waiting to be nurtured!
I completely agree with Kathy – I have three daughters, and believe me, I will go to the ends of the earth to ensure they are valued for their brain, their interests and what positive contributions they can bring to the world, as I agree with the article that these are of utmost importance. However, I see nothing at all wrong with paying a compliment to my daughter when she has mastered choosing a nice outfit or brushed her hair into a nice braid (that she has been working very hard to master!). Of course we want to raise self-confident daughters who are sure of themselves inside and out, and by myself and my husband telling them we, as their parents, think they are beautiful, by no means does them a disservice. It is just another way we show them how loved, valued, and appreciated they are, both inside and out. It’s all about balance and moderation – don’t focus on ONLY the outside, or ONLY the inside. They are whole people, beautiful and intelligent, inside and out.
I find even now, at 22, whenever I reconnect with family or friends I haven’t seen in a while, their first comments are ALWAYS about my appearance. Never mind that I’ve been traveling all around the country for school and my job, or that I play in bands, or that I dance or knit or read… I’ve lost some weight! What an accomplishment!
Thanks for this. I have a young son, 14, who is very conscious of his appearance. Has been since he could talk. He has a lot of girl-friends that I take home from school and I am always asking them what they learned in school today. One positive thing and one negative thing. And how they can work through the negative. They are all teenagers and I want to help them to love themselves they way they are. It’s hard and frustrating to hear them talk down about themselves. Thanks for your words.
I *completely* agree. I am 30 years old and see my family (parents, aunts, uncles, etc.) probably around 3 or 4 times a year. I lived in Paris for six months and the very first thing that nearly every person said after seeing me when I returned was “wow! you lost weight!” I was so mad and found it ridiculous. Upon reflection I realized that my parents were very focused on appearance throughout my childhood/teenage years and in fact still are (my mom recently told me she was worried about my sister because she seemed unhappy AND had gained weight). I am sure if I told them this they would be horrified. After all they did/do praise my sister & I all the time for being smart and accomplished which have nothing to do with looks. I think it shows our societal unconscious obsession with being skinny. I really hope and will make a conscious effort when I have children to NOT talk about weight and appearance.
I realize that your post is almost 2 years ago, and that you might never see this…but just in case you do, I want to let you know that your post brought tears to my eyes. You are now 17 and probably entering one of the last years of high school. I hope you’ve continued on being a smart and special young woman, ready soon to enter the world and make an even larger impact!
At least I’m comforted by knowing that whenever I have children (boys or girls) I will take extra care in molding them. Children need a strong foundation to grow on and if you don’t help them to realize what a good self esteem is, then growing up will be rough. Then again, seeing as I don’t have children and am still young, I suppose I can say this is easier said than done, but I will try my best.
All hail SMART! I remember being so fixated on appearance in high-school that it was painful. Here are the points that I should have realized then:
1) Pretty wasn’t going to get me into university. I am now working on my Ph.D. in biology.
2) Pretty wasn’t going to get me the grades I needed to maintain.
3) Pretty wasn’t going to get me a job in my field of interest.
4) Pretty wasn’t going to get my papers published. No scientist sends mug shots in with their research write-ups.
5) Pretty did not lead to me meeting my husband. He thinks the whole package is beautiful, but he always says that he has never been interested in someone who lacks intelligence.
For as smart as I was in high-school, appearance was the one place where I woefully idiotic. I was too obsessed with thinking that I wasn’t pretty enough. I also had a constant stream of people telling me how pretty my younger sister was. It took me awhile to mentally overcome that conditioning.
Be smart. Beauty – true beauty – comes from passion in your life and interests. Intelligence will give you that passion.
You misspelled “complement” in the fourth paragraph. Otherwise, great article with a great message. I’m not sure what it is about time that reinforces these messages even while great strides are made politically, legally, and professionally.