You are beautiful.
I say these words to my teenager and the reply is always:
“You’re my mother; you are supposed to say that.”
But I don’t HAVE to say it. I say it because it’s true. I say it because I mean it.
It is important that my daughter hear those words, embrace them and believe them.
When my little girl was born, the World Wide Web was just in the infant stage as well. We did not have the internet to go to for a quick Google, or blogs to read for advice, so the best way to get information on being a new parent was through books, magazines and sometimes frantic calls to family.
I read and re-read everything I could get my eyes on, because I wanted so much to be a good mom. Back then, the “experts” on the morning news, and those in magazines, were high on the advice to raise “smart, independent girls, without the Barbies.” Little girls did not need to hear they were pretty to validate who they were, we were told, and we as mothers should not coo “you are so pretty,” but rather “you are so smart.” Leave beauty out of it and your little girl will grow up a confident, strong and intelligent woman who will go far with those qualities, rather than leaning on being beautiful to get through life.
Did these people have teenagers when giving this advice? I don’t think so.
As outside influences (school) came into play, comparisons began to be made with other girls and we started hearing questions: “Do I look fat? How is my hair? How does this outfit look?” No matter how many times I say “No,” “You look pretty,” or “You look nice,” I continued to get the eye roll. I know every teenager goes through this stage, but it seems that nowadays the stage is at the extreme.
Now, looking back 16 years later?
I feel I did a disservice to my daughter. I should have whispered “You are pretty and smart” every single day. I mean, I did tell her this, but I don’t think I told her enough. We as woman want to hear that and I think it is something every girl needs to hear growing up. It will not take away from the other qualities if you tell your daughter she is pretty before smart, kind, or funny. My daughter was born as independent as independent comes. Strong willed? Yes, we had that covered. Smart? You bet. We always say she would make an excellent lawyer with her arguing skills. She is kind and funny too. Pretty? It does not come close. She is gorgeous. But I don’t think she believes that. Not yet anyway.
I can’t help but think that if I had ditched the “expert” advice and showered my little girl with more “pretty” her outlook would be a bit more self-accepting. I have no answer to that because I will never know. I cannot get time back. My only hope is I did enough for her to someday see and believe how beautiful she is, both inside and out.