A number of my friends have been sharing this article around facebook lately and while I get where they’re coming from, can I be a little controversial here and respectfully disagree?
In her article ‘How to Talk to little Girls,’ Lisa Bloom talks about an encounter with a very well dressed girl and her conscious decision not to mention her appearance in any way and instead to start a discussion about reading.
While not entirely unusual, she then goes on to blame our constant complimenting of little girls for why up to 18% of them are wearing mascara under the age of 12.
Here’s what I think:
Unless you’re wearing a hessian sack, you’ve put a certain amount of effort into how you look and it’s nice (and even polite) to be acknowledged for taking pride in your general appearance.
I actually make a point of complimenting people on something I like about their outfit or appearance every time I see them. Not because I’m shallow (in actual fact, I suffer a complete lack of style myself) but because I enjoy the warmth I see in their faces when their efforts have been noticed.
I tell my boys they’re beautiful all the time (is that weird?). I can’t help it! And not just because they’re extraordinarily good looking (slight bias duly noted) but because they exude a beauty of soul that overwhelms me at times.
My compliments when they wear a new shirt I’ve just bought are to encourage them to take pride in their appearance. I tell them they smell nice when they come out of the shower because I don’t want them to be that weird guy no one wants to sit next to on the bus when I’m not around to soap them up.
Dictionary.com defines beautiful as:
[byoo-tuh-fuh l] Show IPA
1.having beauty; possessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about,etc.; delighting the senses or mind: a beautiful dress; a beautiful speech.
2.excellent of its kind: a beautiful putt on the seventh hole; The chef served us a beautiful roast of beef.
3. wonderful; very pleasing or satisfying.
See? It’s not just about lipstick and mascara. It’s so much deeper than that.
Being told you are beautiful has a power far beyond the physical realm.
How do I know this? Because I was a little girl once. A rather plain, ‘blink and you’d miss me’ type of little girl. I was never told I was beautiful. Not once.
And around my 10th birthday, I begged my parents to let me start wearing makeup. I wanted to be beautiful. I wanted to feel beautiful.
Maybe the reason why girls are wearing makeup so young these days is because no one is telling them they’re beautiful just the way they are.
Long before ‘Next Top Models’ and MTV, way back in BC, people are recorded as taking pride in their appearance. Loving yourself is historical, it’s healthy and makes sense – how can you love anyone else if you don’t love yourself? Not in a vain, supermodel kind of way but acknowledging that there’s something about you that’s unique and special.
So, when you meet a little girl (or boy!) for the first time, please, tell them they’re beautiful (or handsome, if you think calling boys ‘beautiful’ is weird). Then talk about the books you love to read and the people you’d love to meet.
We’re all beautiful, Lisa and we should be told we’re beautiful.