As a parent, I am constantly struggling with trying to do things right… or, rather, trying not to do things so wrong my kids will be fucked up forever. When you're me, that's way harder than it sounds.
I find myself often going back and forth on whether to tell my daughter that she's pretty. Whether she is pretty isn't a question. She's the prettiest. But do I tell her that?
I don't want her growing up thinking that being pretty matters. Or that she should base her self-worth on her looks. Or that pretty is a character asset, something that makes a girl superior, and puts her in a place to judge others. And I certainly don't want her thinking that ugly is… well… ugly.
On the other hand, her looks will undoubtedly be brought up by her peers. If I don't tell her she's pretty, and they tell her she's ugly, will she be more likely to believe them? Will it destroy her forever,sentencing her to an entire lifetime of angsty emo poetry, clove cigarettes and paintings made out of vegan blood?
Maybe she's bound to learn the lesson that pretty=better in society. I'm not sure how to counter that. Re-assure her? Lead by example and show her it doesn't matter? I try not to comment on the things I don't like about my own looks when I'm around her… but it's hard not to ask for reassurance before I walk out the door, "Do I look okay?" "Does my hair look ridiculous?"
How do you send messages to the young(er) girls in your life? Do you tell them they're pretty? Do you criticise your own or other women's looks in front of them? Can the message that pretty=best be subverted at home? Does it even matter if your mom tells you that you're pretty? What do you wish someone did or said that may have changed how you feel about your body?
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