Today I told my 10-month-old that I think she’s beautiful. I know, I know; here I am, a Science Mom myself, undercutting my daughter’s potential future career in a science or technology field. What was I thinking? Or rather, what are people thinking when they write hand-wringing op eds called, “Powerful ad shows why we shouldn’t be telling young girls how ‘pretty’ they are”?
I’ve seen and heard a lot of talk about the Verizon ad featured in that article, most of it centered around how we can’t be telling our daughters they’re pretty if we want them to grow up to be Strong Women of Science, to which I say: screw that. I appreciate Verizon’s intent here, in saying that we should be telling girls that they’re “pretty brilliant”, but the execution is a little off, I think: if girls spend too much time thinking they’re pretty, they might spend their time putting on lipstick instead of going to science fairs! Or – and I’m just going out on a limb here – maybe giving girls space to feel good about their appearance and getting them interested in math and science aren’t mutually exclusive, and there are bigger fisher to fry than the phrase “Who’s mommy’s pretty little girl?”
Our daughters are going to grow up – are already growing up – under a constant barrage of media and advertisements telling them there’s something wrong with them. Their hair should be shinier, their skin is too spotty, their boobs are too small and their thighs are too big. They’ll grow up seeing Photoshopped actresses on magazine covers and CGI’d stars on the big screen. They need to hear that they’re beautiful, no matter what. They need to hear it all the time, from someone who loves them and who means every word.