From the first time I saw those undeniable boy parts on the sonogram, I said how relieved I was to not have had a little girl. It is a hard thing to try to explain, especially to a mom of girls, but I am scared of all the societal pressures being placed on girls today. Girls that will become the women of tomorrow are facing so much pressure from the women of today.
I love that women today are trying to change what it means to be a woman. It no longer means we are soft, quiet, emotional, and sensitive. It now means we are strong, smart, accomplished, and proud. It means we are independent. Women have always been those things, really, but today we are trying to change how society views women.
One main topic that women are speaking out against, especially in the mom community, is the misconception that a girl’s value comes from her looks. The mom advocates are boycotting shirts that say “Beautiful” or “Pretty Eyes” or anything that references their daughter’s looks. They are appalled that little girl clothes reference physical features while little boy clothing advertises how smart they are or how strong and accomplished they are in sports, fishing, and operating large machinery. Little boy shirts represent things they DO, and little girl shirt represent how they LOOK.
While I understand what this movement is trying to do for the next generation of women, I think we are going about it all wrong and almost pushing too far.
I have written before about my feelings on the impact of children’s clothing in It’s Not Just A Shirt.
Moms of my generation are asking people not tell their daughters that they are beautiful. As in, do not tell her she is beautiful, tell her she is strong. Do not tell her she is pretty, tell her she is smart. Do not tell her she has pretty eyes, tell her she has wonderful ideas.
But from the expert opinion of this accomplished, proud, independent woman, I like being pretty. I like being told that I am beautiful. I appreciate my looks being complimented because it is something I put effort into through the clothes I choose, how I style my hair, and the make up I wear once in a while.
Part of being a human is desiring to be attractive to other humans. Part of being a dog is desiring to be attractive to other dogs. That is just how species that are meant to procreate function. Part of being a flower is being attractive to… well, to bees… but it is for the purpose of getting their parts into other flowers so that they can create more flowers! What I mean is that our looks, while not the most important, do serve a purpose.
There is nothing wrong with a little girl being told she is beautiful. There is nothing wrong with telling a little boy he is beautiful! I tell my son he is handsome all the time, mostly because he does not have many other accomplishments to be judged on just yet. His looks are kind of his main thing. His big blue eyes, he drooling lips, his chubby hands and feet. He is beautiful.
My husband, a grown-up with a job, an education, and real life accomplishments appreciates being good looking. He likes to dress well because he likes the way I look at him when he dresses well. He likes the way he looks at himself when he dresses well!
Wanting to be attractive is not a female trait.
In the past, the pressures to be attractive were more heavily placed on females as if that was a lady’s only duty in life – to look good on the arm of a man. That, of course, is where the harm comes from. We need to teach our children of both genders that there is more to life than being pretty, but I do not think we need to take beautiful away from them.
We should teach our little girls that they do not have to be pretty to be successful, but we should also teach them that they can be attractive and successful. Beauty and success are not mutually exclusive. Our little boys need to be taught the same things! They do not have to be handsome to do great things in life, but there is also nothing wrong with caring about how they look.
I was brought up in a strict religious background that was very conservative. My church talked a lot about vanity and how wrong it was. I was taught that to put stock into my looks was sinful, and that my looks, outside of appearing to be Christ-like, did not matter. Vanity was a sin. I think this way of teaching was harmful to a lot of young people, young ladies especially. Maybe this is why I feel so strongly about this whole NOT-telling-little-girls-(or boys)-that-they-are-beautiful thing.
I am very surprised that I came out of such an environment with as much confidence as I have. I know of quite a few young girls who are still, well into adulthood, trying to relearn that it is ok to love themselves and to see themselves as beautiful. We were created in God’s image and that is beautiful. There is nothing wrong with knowing that.
I do not think a person’s beauty depends on the color of his hair, or the size of her body, or the clothing that he wears. But I can not go as far as to say that physical appearance means nothing. I do not believe that. It is important to be healthy, and healthy is beautiful, even though healthy does not always wear the same size cloths. Healthy does not always look the same and that is beautiful.
Please do not take beauty away from our little girls or our little boys. Do not take beauty away from this next generation.
In order to be accomplished, we have to have confidence in ourselves. An easy way to feel confident is to believe that we are beautiful, no matter what we see when we look in the mirror.
A friend told me that in order to effect real change, society needs to push to create a pendulum swing. That swing swoops far in the opposite direction only to come back and settle somewhere in the middle. That is when we achieve balance.
It is all about finding balance between putting stock into what we look like, and stock in who we are, what we act like, how we treat others, what we accomplish, how hard we work – those things are beautiful too.