Enjoy The Unbelievable Navel-Gazing Of This ‘Please Don’t Tell My Daughter She Is Beautiful’ Article

152406622I love our readers. have I mentioned lately how much I love our readers? Chillimama just emailed me an amazing article to me entitled “Please Don’t tell My Daughter She Is Beautiful” from The Ottawa Citizen. The article starts out saying:

No, I’m dreading Christmas because it means ample opportunity for friends and strangers alike to generously, but unfortunately, exclaim over how adorable my daughter looks in her fancy holiday attire.


So what exactly can we say to her kid? You are an ugly little mouth breather? Is that OK? I guess I can sort of side with this:

The problem is that receiving constant accolades about her physical appearance gives my daughter the impression that her value is predicated on how she looks.

Listen, I’m sorry you are a bad parent and you are unable to raise your daughter to make her understand that looks aren’t everything. I am the mother of a VERY beautiful little girl, actually, I am pretty sure my daughter is prettier than this lady’s kid, but because I have taught her that looks aren’t everything and it’s what’s inside that counts she is doing just fine. This is just so absurd. There are so many WORSE things than having a kid people call “pretty.” If your biggest complaint are the number of people telling you that your child is beautiful than you should probably consider yourself pretty damn lucky.

I’d give you guys a nice long list of all the worst things your kid can be than told they are pretty, but that would prove insulting to any parent who has a child with, you know, REAL problems, like one who is sick.

(Image: getty images)

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  • pixie

    I can’t even…
    I have no idea how to respond to this other than that manatee gif made me super happy.

    • Tinyfaeri

      Me too, and I’m usually a total gif hater.

  • MellyG

    While on one hand i get where she’s coming from, how much worse would it be for a kid to NEVER be told that they are pretty? Should i make my (future) kids go through life, never allowing anyone to tell them they are attractive? Wouldn’t that do MUCH worse damage? I think the key is, and it’s this ladies job, to make sure daughter realize that yes, she can be attractive AND other things as well. And the way to do that is not guilt trip strangers that are complimenting your daughter.

  • I’m too pretty for selfies :(

    Sheesh. If the kid has your lame attitude she’s going to need all the looks she can get. What kind of person needs multiple paragraphs in a newspaper to humble-brag? Can’t she just make a holiday-letter-collage-combo like the rest of the mothers nobody can stand?

  • Véronique Houde

    Yeah, this is one topic that keeps popping up on RIE threads: “how do I get perfect strangers to give my daughter any other compliment than one about how pretty she is?!” First of all, no one really gives a shit about your daughter and second of all, get a life is what I always tell them. It’s like people don’t understand that “OMG your kid is soooo cute!” is like the universal “how’s the weather” statement for kids.

    • Do eye-rolls burn calories?

      There’s also that part where the only thing strangers know about your kid is what she looks like. What are they expecting? “Oh, I can just tell by the way you’re picking your nose and banshee-screaming for candy that you’re clearly a very intelligent little girl. Your mother must be so proud.”

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      Now, I don’t make a big deal about this stuff, but I get the sentiment. What bugs me is that my daughters always get “Why, don’t you look beautiful in your dress!?” whereas my son gets “So what are you interested in? Do you like sports?” The insidiousness of misogyny is kinda scary.

      I don’t try to police what people say to my kids, but it does make me more aware and I do try to educate my kids on why it happens. It would be great if it didn’t happen though.

    • KHK

      Be patient, the world is changing; it’s just a matter of time before more people are comfortable telling your son he’s beautiful in his dress, too.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I know you think you’re oh so funny and snarky, but really, would it be so wrong for my son to actually be in a beautiful dress?

      *eyeroll to infinity*

    • KHK

      There is nothing wrong with boys in dresses. Eyeroll right back at ya.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      The only thing worse than a sexist comment is a sexist commenter acting like they weren’t being sexist when called out on it.

      *eyeroll to infinity and back and then in the shape of a middle finger*

    • lwc

      Don’t worry, some of us got it. ;)

    • Janok Place

      I’m sure your son is incredibly handsome no matter what he wears. And if he wanted to wear a dress, I totally think it’s awesome that you’d support it. Seriously, HIS clothes are no one else’s business. Hopefully the OP wasn’t being snarky or sarcastic, because there really are people out there who think boys choosing dresses is totally okay. As they should.

    • Katia

      If this is how it is than yes that’s a problem. It’s ingrained …

  • Bethany Ramos

    As an aside, I LOVE the manatee gif.

    • candyvines

      That manatee even warms my cold, gif-hating heart.

    • ChillMama

      The manatee…amazing!!

  • keelhaulrose

    My daughter has that red hair that you can’t bottle, so hear the “beautiful hair” thing nearly every day go out. I’ve taught her to thank the person and tell me if they’re making her uncomfortable.
    She started, on her own, to reply to any inquires as to how her dark haired father and blonde mother made a redhead, to reply “the mailman”.
    Seriously, “what a cutie!” Is a compliment thrown around with no real bearing on what they really think your kid looks like. Teach your child to take a compliment graciously. It’s not hard.

    • Maddi Holmes

      You should teach her to explain how recessive traits work to people who ask. Anyone who doesn’t know how red hair comes from two parents without red hair needs to take a high school science class.

    • Lilly

      I should train my son to say that — we have a similar situation, he has curly blond hair and my husband and I both have straight dark brown hair. We get a lot of “where is that hair from?”

  • Holly

    I have this conversation all the time with my almost 7 year-old. I ask her which is more important, a clever brain or a pretty face… she has had it drilled in her brain that it’s nice to be cute and all, but her life will be a lot easier if she puts her smart brain to good use.

  • Kay_Sue

    Well. Reading that humble brag cost me several minutes of my life I won’t be able to get back. SMH.

  • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

    The problem I have with the whole “You’re so pretty” thing with kids, especially little girls in this society, is what happens when it stops? This is something that I struggled with. As a little girl, you hear tons of “oh, how adorable. Aren’t you beautiful?” but when you hit puberty, it stops for the most part. As a kid (turned adult) struggling with bulimia, it was just one more shitty thing, especially when I had adorable little sisters around to compliment, lol.

    Now, I don’t go nuts on someone when they compliment my kids. I don’t think you can or should police the world. But I’m sympathetic to the idea I guess. It’s problematic and it’s also tough when it feels like the entirety of society is against you.

    • Kay_Sue

      I can get that to an extent. I hit an awkward phase about 11 that lasted until…well, a really long time. Maybe forever.

      I think the key is that parents have to instill in kids that flipside of the coin that looks aren’t the important part of who you are. But that’s also incredibly difficult to do in a society that (not necessarily through kind-hearted strangers, but more so through media) is pumping in the message that a girl is only as good as her T-N-A, glossy hair, flawless makeup and impeccable style choices.

    • Tinyfaeri

      There’s just a certain age when it starts to be a bit…. weird for a stranger or acquaintance to say “oh, isn’t you cute/beautiful/adorable!” to a child. As parents, its our job to make sure that our kids value more in themselves than their looks (like being hard working, smart, funny, kind), and in my opinion it’s also up to us to keep telling them they’re beautiful the way they are (inside and out) as they get older and it gets creepy for strangers to do it. Because, really, it’d be creepy.

    • AugustW

      My daughter is extremely beautiful, and is told it often, but it’s my job as a parent to mix in a lot of “wow! that was really good! That was so smart of you!” in there too.

    • Tinyfaeri

      Right. Rewarding, encouraging and noticing hard work, dedication, kindness, humor and empathy is the bulk of parenting (outside providing love, food, clothing, shelter, love and other essentials).

    • meteor_echo

      Ayup. The change from “such a cute child!” to “ugly bitch”, “Dumbo”, “pizza-face” and “you’re getting fat” (this one being the courtesy of my mother) was unpleasant, to say the least

    • Beth

      Eh… I get this, but I also see that it’s just a product of our culture. It’s a normal thing for people to see babies or toddler-ish girls and say “She’s so cuuuute!” Which I suppose is okay… and it beats the hell out of “Oh… you decided to breed. How awesome.”

    • rebecca eckler

      You are totally right Francis. What I find odd is that OF COURSE a three year old (or younger) people tell them they are cute. Because they are! Interestingly, when I think about it objectively, my daughter when she was a baby, looked very much like a boy (no hair until 3!) She rarely got compliments. But as she gets older (10) she’s turned, honestly, into a beautiful girl, inside and out. She’s been stopped three times to model on the street or in malls. My son, however, blond and blue eyed (as opposed to my daughter, dark hair and eyes) gets way way more compliments. We can’t take him anywhere without people telling us how cute he is (But is it because he’s a baby?) But I hope this mother can see into the future and teach her daughter that inner beauty is much more important. That lasts a lifetime. You never know what your child will look like in those teenage years, or older. (And, of course, as mothers, don’t we all think our children are beautiful?)

  • FF4life

    My almost 4 year old is too young to understand the beauty isn’t everything talk. But she has already expressed concern over her looks despite every random stranger telling her how cute she is. She has hair like Shirley Temple and it makes her feel different when she sees an army of women and girls who use flattening irons. It affects her self esteem to feel different even at just 4.

  • Jessica

    I understand the frustration with the emphasis on looks, but I don’t think preaching to the general public to stop is very effective. My daughter is half Korean & before she was ever born, people commented on how attractive she was going to be. And she is. She’s really cute. But it’s my job to make sure she knows she is important & valued for more than just her face. I have talked to my younger sister about how she interacts with my daughter. My sister is only 15 & would love to be told she’s pretty every five minutes, so that’s what she was doing with my baby. It was a quick conversation & now she’s more aware about what she says & the affect her words can have.

    • Sam Inoue

      People said the same thing to me with my half japanese daughter. My teen niece does the same thing, and she lives with me so its all the time. I obviously think they are both beautiful, but still other things are important. I also think there is sort of exotisizing of mixed race children so people feel like they can say it all the time

  • Janok Place

    Ugh, we’re from the Ottawa area. Guys, I am so, so ashamed… please don’t think less of me. Imagine growing up, watching your mother chastise random strangers every time they gave you a compliment? I will intentionally tell each and every little girl I see how beautiful she looks, if I’m lucky I can smite this bitch.

  • Elisa Probert

    I’ll just have to resort to “Oh, a child. How quaint.” And then I’ll run away laughing as the sanctimommy tries to figure out if they’ve been complimented, insulted, or just mocked by a lesser being who hasn’t made use of her uterus yet.

  • Alicia Kiner

    I struggled with this as well, simply because I didn’t want her to turn into a girl who was only concerned with how she looks. Happily enough, she only cares if people are complimenting her brother and not her. I think as mothers we want to protect our daughters from the body issues that plague most of us.

  • It’s a secret

    My 7 year old is beautiful. She has big blue eyes and strawberry blond hair and when she smiles it lights up the room. She hated wearing pants, preferring dresses and warm tights and god help you if you mess up her hair. People tell her (and me) that she beautiful all the time. She says “thank you”.

    When asked to describe herself the first thing she says is “smart.” The second is “kind”. The rest of the list varies, and “pretty” is usually on it, but never in the top five.
    She runs and plays with her friends, the dresses she prefers don’t slow her down, she just wears bike shorts underneath them. If her hair gets messy playing she shrugs it off and she tolerates hats because she understands that the alternative is to be cold.

    This lady needs a reality check.

  • K

    I agree there’s an element of “first world problem” or sanctimommying here, but I do think there’s some truth to this as well. Children, but I think especially little girls, do get talked to an awful lot about their appearance, and maybe there’s more interesting things we could be talking to them about? I read this article a year or so ago and I thought it made a similar point, but in a way that spoke to me a little more – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-bloom/how-to-talk-to-little-gir_b_882510.html

  • Jani

    It should be navel, not naval. Great manatee.

  • ChopChick

    I’m going to be annoying girl and point out it should be navel with an e, otherwise she’s contemplating her life while staring at ships!! (Which is kind of a funny visual)

  • gothicgaelicgirl

    How can anyone NOT tell a child how beautiful they are!!
    I find that my girls LACK self confidence and I do all I can to show them they are beautiful no matter what, inside and out.

    I had to boost the older girl as she has a turn in her eye and has to wear glasses.
    She was feeling very upset about it as kids in school keep teasing her.
    Until I showed her a picture of Kate Moss and told her she was thought to be one of the most beautiful women in the world.
    I realise Kate Moss may not be an ideal idol for a 10 year old but to be honest, if it makes her feel more confident- I couldn’t give two monkey shits

  • Stacey

    When I was a kid, everyone used to fuss over my younger sister who was “Gorgeous,” “Beautiful,” “An angel!” Then they’d look at me, pause, and say, “Still getting good grades?” She grew up pissed that no one acknowledged she’s smart and I grew up annoyed that people thought I looked like a boy because I didn’t like long hair and frilly dresses.

  • AP

    I feel like praising a kid for being cute often has nothing to do with how they look, but is a function of their being a child- their childish behavior, their diminutive size, their flopsy enthusiasm and underdeveloped social skills. They’re cute, even if they’re not gorgeous.

  • Erin Voyik Roy

    “I am the mother of a VERY beautiful little girl, actually, I am pretty sure my daughter is prettier than this lady’s kid, but because I have taught her that looks aren’t everything and it’s what’s inside that counts she is doing just fine.”

    I mean, really? My kid is prettier than your kid?

    I agree that policing what people say about your kid is not the answer, but I also understand that boys hear “what do you like to do? what are you interested in?” and girls hear “you’re so pretty” all. the. time. Boys=people; girls=objects, even as kids.

  • kg

    Honestly if she’s so concerned about people commenting on her daughter’s looks why not just dress her in a dirty potato sack and call it a day.

    This is some serious first world problem shit.

  • Steph S

    I was scolded at the library when I told another little girl she looked so pretty. I think it was this author!

  • Alexandra

    Worst humble brag ever.

    • texassa

      I don’t agree. Little girls are complimented on their outfit/hair/looks constantly whether they’re pretty or not. It’s considered a go-to compliment for girls.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    Like a few others have said, I understand where she’s coming from to some extent.

    I don’t *care* if people compliment my daughter’s looks or clothes or hair or whatever, but I do find that I want to make sure she gets a balance.

    I want her to feel beautiful, but I want her to know that beauty only takes you so far and doesn’t last and should never, ever be the most interesting thing about you.

  • Rachel Sea

    If her kid is so pretty, she’s just going to have to teach her to use her powers for good instead of evil.

    One of the more important things you can teach a pretty girl is that looks fade. Appearance has a huge impact on people’s lives. It effects our educations, our careers, our relationships (it shouldn’t, but it does), and being conventionally pretty, but no too pretty, is a kind of privilege. Unlike race, or gender, appearances change, and women who have always relied on their looks to get ahead get a rude awakening when they are no longer the most attractive woman in the room.

  • texassa

    I understand the writer’s frustration. How often is the knee-jerk comment to little boys, “Oh! You look so precious/handsome/cute/sweet!” Rarely. And definitely less than 1/10 of the times it’s said to little girls. That type of validation over a lifetime does have serious influence. You need only look around to see it.

  • Wes

    Does anyone tell your son how “pretty” he is? I bet not. For boys we comment on how strong or fast they are, or how we bet they can really throw a ball. Thus we ingrain in them that for boys their value to society is in what they can do, their power, but for girls it’s just about being “pretty”. I am a father of two daughters, and I agree, don’t tell my girls they’re “pretty”. If this leaves you completely dumbfounded and you can’t think of anything else to say maybe that’s a clue that you should be silent. Why do you feel this compulsion to talk to a 4 year old you don’t evem know? My girls are both beautiful, but more importantly they are strong, resilient, and confident in their own abilities and self worth without the need for strangers to flatter them on superficial aesthetics.

  • Carrie Lynn

    When My “BEAUTIFUL” daughter Looks at me sometimes and I am just taken over by her gesture , the way she tilts her head..Smiles that Smile or just the way the light sparkles in her eyes..or when she puts on a beautiful dress …if it hits me out of the bluie.. I will tell her in the sweetest way… “Gosh you look so pretty”…………. I don’t say it to her 10 times a day and JAM it down her throat that being pretty gets you things that others dont.. I teach her that we have to take care of our bodies in every way and that you should be nice to EVERYBODY that is nice to you..And even the ones that Aren’t because you just may help them become a better person..-That money and clothes and the way you look aren’t as inportant as HOW YOU ARE TO OTHERS…So when I tell her she looks PRETTY..by gosh I mean it and I am NOT going to stop doing it.. There are worse things that i could be doing. Good Grief!!!!!,,, This may sound harsh but I think the people that are so against girls being told they are pretty are the ones who were self conscious and picked on when they were little.—.BUT I WAS ONE OF THOSE…

  • Carrie Lynn

    When My daughter sits next to me and gives me that look.. or smiles that smile or shows me how PRETTY she looks in dress up… If I see her at any particular moment that it just hits me how pretty she really looks.. I WILL TELL HER… I dont ram it down her throat every ten seconds that she is OH SO BEAUTIFUL… But if she even asks me if she is pretty (And she has).. I tell her yes..” I think you are beautiful”…. and she smiles and hugs me..and then we usually continue with some more talk about how to treat others.. That it should not matter how “PERFECT” you are that if you are kind to others that you deserve the same in return.. That being pretty is not a way to get things or for you to act like you are better…. and under no circumstances do we treat anyone any different no matter their looks, status, clothes, money, jobs, accomplishments or whatever.. And she understands this and she even tells other children the things they are good at..or if they look Pretty she will say so… I could be doing a lot worse things to my child than telling her how pretty she is… And I have a GOOD KID… I Do think that most people who are against the PRETTY thing are people that were picked on and teased and or self conscious about themselves growing up.. BUT I WAS ONE OF THEM TOO