Should We Tell Little Girls They’re Pretty?

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Should We Tell Little Girls They’re Pretty?.

I wish I wish I wish I could remember where I heard the advice “do not compliment the girls on their height, their hair, etc., because that basically shows them you are only interested in their physical appearance…”

But it. is. so. true.

Overly-showering someone with compliments turns into a two-edged sword, particularly in light of my previous post called “Addicted to Lipo”.  As this current article states:

“Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. “

Who wants that!?

I don’t think ignoring their looks is the answer, but I do think wording is particularly important.  We were all children at one point, I am sure that comment / compliment / remark from Ms. Whoever or Mr. Soandso that you overheard (or were directly told!) sticks out in your mind to this day.  Kids remember things.  They have a lot less cluttering up their brain than we do and arguably, it’s what they remember from their younger years that really begin to define how they think of themselves.

I’d be interested to hear others’ thoughts on this.


3 thoughts on “Should We Tell Little Girls They’re Pretty?

    jleighbralick said:
    July 5, 2011 at 11:15

    I think that you’re absolutely right — children remember things, much more than we often suppose. So that means we should be very careful what compliments we pay them. What we praise in a child has an enormous effect on what sorts of things they later pursue as sources of happiness. If they associate beauty (which they may not have any control over without spending excessive amounts of money) with praise and love, then are we surprised at the strange things young women do to themselves to try to live up to someone else’s concept of what is beautiful?

    I certainly don’t say we should avoid praising children. Far from it. But senseless flattery, and excessive attention paid to their beauty, or their clothing, is highly undesirable. It is often more harmful than helpful, since, as you say, it teaches children to pay too much attention to things that are superficial.

    We would do much better to praise children for behaving prettily than for appearing “pretty” according to some arbitrary standard of beauty. Children should be taught to be concerned with how they present themselves to the world, but not to believe that they will be loved or hated on the basis of their faces. They should be encouraged to see the ugliness of being slovenly in their appearance or disagreeable in their manners, rather than not having the prettiest hair or the newest, most fashionable clothes. They should learn that taking care of their appearance — being clean and neat, for instance — is a sign of respect for others, and therefore something deserving of praise. They should be praised also for their virtues, for their inquisitiveness, for working diligently or for the creativeness of their play.

    These things will help them to become better people. Teach them what is of highest value, and what is most to be esteemed. It will also teach them not to judge others harshly on the basis of appearance. What they find praised in themselves will often become the basis of what they praise or censure in others.

    We all want to be esteemed. But esteem for a pretty face is as deep and meaningful as esteeming a treasure chest for its fancy veneer.

    Lacy de la Garza responded:
    July 5, 2011 at 21:43

    Beautifully said, Jenny. Beautifully said.

    TinCan said:
    July 8, 2011 at 12:09

    Perhaps you were reminded by this post – – which has been making the blog rounds lately.


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