It’s become quite popular these days to talk about why you shouldn’t say this or that to my daughter.
A little old lady in the grocery store tells my daughter she’s pretty, and all of a sudden it’s an Open Letter To That Woman – Why My Daughter Is More Than Pretty.
Well – yes. Yes, she is.
But other than the fact that it’s currently trendy to be offended by everything under the sun, there is actually nothing wrong at all with my daughter being told she’s pretty.
When I see an adult I don’t know, whether male or female, and I want to pay them a compliment, I’m not going to just grab some random positive thought and throw it their way, hoping that it somehow hits the mark and matches up with who they are.
I’m going to say something positive about what I can see right in front of me – their shirt, their shoes, their car, their bag, their jacket, their watch, their hair. If they’re holding or wearing something that shows a specific interest (music, sport, etc) I might mention that, but usually not. I’ll be honest, I don’t usually walk up to strangers and say “Hiii, you’re so pretty!” (Maybe I should start??!!) I tend to choose something they’re wearing as a compliment.
The point is, what I say focuses on the external. I don’t know if that stranger is smart, athletic, or an extremely kind thoughtful person who is always there for a friend in need, but I can see that she’s wearing a killer pair of shoes, or that he’s got a great outfit. And that’s what I’m going to compliment.
A few words from a stranger are not shaping my daughter’s heart. I am.
My daughter is being raised to know that she is kind, smart, strong, intelligent, thoughtful and generous. She is also told that she is beautiful – inside and out. Both her father and I compliment her on her outfits, her hair, her shoes – and on her art, her school work, her writing, her acts of kindness, her strength.
There is much more to her than her external appearance – but her external appearance is, in fact, part of her. To deny that is as wrong as to deny her kindness or her strength. They are all parts of the whole, the wonderful being that my daughter is and is meant to be.
If you see me with my daughter in the store – you can tell her that she’s pretty.
My daughter will smile, and say “Thank you.”
… because besides being raised to be strong, intelligent, and brave, my daughter is being raised to be gracious when offered kind words, to never judge a person’s intentions too harshly, to be confident in her whole person and to not base her self-image on a few words from a stranger.
My daughter is beautiful – inside and out.
But if you happen to meet her and you don’t know her yet, you can just tell her that she’s beautiful.
She knows the “inside and out” part for herself.