I know a lot of parents out there try not to comment on their daughters’ appearances so they don’t only value their looks. That’s great. Because in a few decades, beauty fades away and you are left with your intelligence to get you through the rest of your life.
Since the day she was born everyone called my oldest daughter cute, beautiful, gorgeous, etc. Which is fine. Since we live so far away from friends and family, people only see pictures of her. They can only comment on what they see. You can’t tell someone how smart they are from a picture. I mean, unless she’s reading War and Peace in it or something. I have no problem with anyone complimenting my kids.
I had a second girl. Ten months went by, and not once has she been called beautiful. This wouldn’t have bothered me except for the fact that one is constantly being commented on and the other, nilch. Thing is, I didn’t birth a mutant either. Then again, I am biased as their mother, so I think both my girls are beautiful. I’m not saying it because I’m lying and trying to be nice. And I would lie if I really think they looked like mutants (because, you know, healthy body image and self-esteem). But they don’t. And since it’s not all about looks, I give them other compliments as well. Smart. Brave. Creative. I know, getting off subject.
After one family gathering my 3 year old daughter (aka the parrot) came home and continually repeated, “my baby sister is ugly, she is an ugly baby”. Over and over. For weeks. It took months to re-train her to be kind and say kind things again. Though I wonder where she learned to say that (since I never use the word ugly), I’m most concerned that she will learn to believe she is better than someone else because of how she looks. Beautiful = good. Ugly = bad. I’m sure once she goes to school there will be lots of situations where others will influence her and it will be more difficult to teach her. I just didn’t think I’d have to walk down that road so early.
For my precious little baby’s sake, I hope this isn’t an indicator of what’s to expect in life. What if 10, 15 years down the road everyone is STILL exclaiming how beautiful her older sister is, and nothing is said to her? Maybe an occasional, “So, how’s school going for you? Studying hard?” followed by awkward silence. I cringe at the thought.
Since my husband and I went through the ugly duckling syndromes throughout school (he will exclaim he miraculously transformed, I say I’m still suffering from it with no known cure) I guess we have the necessary tools to get through these stages. You know, my wicked sense of self-depreciative humor. And his inflated ego. I kid.
As for my younger daughter, I only say this: