I’ve recently had something pulling on my heart that I just can’t seem to shake. It’s the absolute fear I have when I think about my daughter growing up only hearing how “pretty” she is or how “cute” she looks. I cringe thinking about it. Don’t call my daughter pretty.
I know what you’re probably thinking. It’s a compliment… why wouldn’t you want your daughter to hear that she’s beautiful? I know, I know.
Allow me to explain.
My daughter is beautiful. She will always be beautiful in my eyes and her daddy’s eyes and anyone’s eyes who really loves her. But, beauty isn’t our focus. I grew up hearing so often how pretty I am (sometimes even how ugly I was from some really mean kids in middle school). Because of this, I became so obsessed with how I looked that I wasn’t living up to my potential in other areas of my life.
Education, faith, health, and strength.
There have been so many times in my life where I neglected these areas of my life because I was too focused on being pretty and having others believe that about me. Education is so important and I finally realized that after I graduated college (a little late, huh?). I would be so focused on the way I looked that I was forgetting to pay attention to my teachers. My faith is probably the most important part of my life and there have been so many times when I was putting that on the backburner because I was believing the lies that the world teaches us about beauty. There have been many times in my life that I have neglected my health because I wanted to lose weight or look a certain way.
Lastly, strength. I’m not talking about muscles. I’m talking about strength of character. A strong mind. Strong opinions. Confidence in your ability to make decisions and voice your opinions. In my life, I have been so concerned about the way people view me that I have completely pushed my strength to the side. Voicing my opinions became so difficult for me because I was too afraid of the way others may view me. I have a hard time making small decisions because I’m fearful that the people around me won’t agree with me and think differently of me.
I don’t want that for my daughter.
My hope is that the people that Alice surrounds herself with won’t call her pretty. My hope for her is that she won’t grow up focusing on her looks (which will in turn cause her to focus on other people’s looks).
What do I want you to say to my daughter?
Call her brilliant.
Call her lively.
Call her smart.
Call her kind.
Call her thoughtful.
Call her bright.
Call her determined.
Tell her she’s able.
Tell her she’s gifted.
Tell her she has a purpose.
Tell her to be curious.
Tell her to ask questions.
Tell her she has a voice.
Of course I believe my daughter is beautiful. Of course I know that so many of the people who love her think she is cute and will always think she is pretty, beautiful, etc. Of course I want my daughter to believe that she is beautiful.
But, I want her to know that her beauty comes from other areas of her life. Her resilience in the face of difficulty will make her beautiful. Her kindness in the face of hatred will make her beautiful. Her curiosity in a world that wants us to stay put will make her beautiful. Her voice will make her beautiful.
So, please, don’t call my daughter pretty.