Your daughter is beautiful – you and I both know that. But I’m working on not telling her that anymore – at least not very often.
Our culture is obsessed with beauty. We are constantly bombarded through subtle and not so subtle messages that we need to be skinnier, less wrinkly, more toned, and more trendy. Adults are bombarded with beauty messages, but so are kids. Disney Princesses all have the same curvy figure and gorgeous big eyes. Hannah Montana looked like a Barbie. And Barbie… well, we all know about the complex she has given to generations of women.
But it’s not just the big bad media sending out the message that women and young women need to be beautiful, we are all sending that message. Next time you’re around a group of little girls, listen to all the compliments offered. And listen to what is being complimented. “You’re so pretty!” “Your dress is darling!” “Oh I would kill for that hair!” “You’re gonna need to invest in a shotgun for this one!” And the list goes on.
I’ve been catching myself doing this a lot lately, and not just with little girls. I do this with grown women, too.
My go-to compliment with women is typically something appearance-based, and I get it, we get nervous around each other, and we say the first thing that comes to mind. Sadly, the first thing that comes to mind is often a commentary on appearance. And if we’re being totally honest here, many times the first thing that comes to mind is external stuff because we’re playing the comparison game. Doesn’t it go something like this?
Internal dialogue: “Wow, she’s lost a lot of weight, I wish I could lose weight”
External compliment: “That dress is really flattering on you”
Internal Dialogue: “She is so beautiful. I wish I had good genes like her. Thanks, mom for passing on your cellulite and big nose to me!”
External Compliment: “You’re so pretty. I would kill for your figure.”
Internal dialogue: “She always looks so cute. One day, when she has kids, she won’t be able to wear scarves because her kids will choke her… or earrings like that… because her kids will rip them out”
External compliment: “I love those big earrings – you just always know how to accessorize.”
We were all raised with ideals of beauty bombarding us, and look where it has gotten us -We are caddy, jealous, and never satisfied with the way we look. I don’t want your daughter to live this way, and I know you don’t either.
I don’t want her to read between the lines when she is told she is cute. I don’t want her to ask herself, “Am I being told I’m cute because I’m chubby and chubby girls can only be cute and not pretty?” I don’t want her to hear that she’s beautiful and ask herself, “Is it only because of my ample chest?” I don’t want her to see other girls being asked to dances and going on dates and question her beauty when she’s not.
And that is why I am starting to think before I speak. That is why I am filtering my compliments. That is why I am intentional with my words these days. I want your daughter to find value in herself that goes deeper than her exterior. I want your daughter to know that she is breathtakingly beautiful because her character is stunning! I want to encourage her to be trustworthy, diligent, smart, savvy, strong, hard-working, generous, fearless, good with money, wise, and humorous. I want your daughter to know that she is beautiful on the inside, which is the best kind of unfading beauty! I want your daughter to find her value and worth in who God has created her to be, not what society tells her to be.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30