It’s interesting thing kinds of things that come up, once you are the mama of a little girl. The worries and fears about her body image, and self confidence start in our minds, before she’s even old enough to express a complete thought of her own.
There’s questions about wearing makeup, what will she think of it if I do, along with thoughts about emphasizing inner beauty more than outer, and the great Barbie® debate. It’s not surprising, because it seems everywhere we turn in our culture women are being objectified, while others are obsessing with outer beauty to a fault and still more are being shamed for being too big in the eyes of society or even, too small.
Body image is a tough issue, and it starts young.
I certainly want my little girl to grow up knowing that she is valued for a thousand reasons beyond than her looks. I want her to be confident that her face, her body, her size are not what defines her as woman. I yearn for her to value the things that are most important, in herself and in others.
But I also want her to know that she’s beautiful.
In the attempt to combat the culture that tells girls they are sex-objects and teaches them to stress about their looks before they’ve even hit puberty, we often try to compensate by ignoring their bodies. Instead of teaching them how to be beautiful and bright, we sometimes throw looks out the window and only focus on personality or smarts, and this doesn’t help either.
God has created our little girls beautiful, and it’s not wrong to tell them this.
My baby girl spins around in a little dress, I smile at her and say “you are beautiful”.
She wakes up in the morning with matted hair, and wrinkled PJs, as she rubs her sleep eyes, I whisper in her ear “you are beautiful”.
Because it’s not about what she wears, it’s about her. The kind, feisty little girl that she is.
She’s beautiful in the twirly dress, and she’s beautiful when she’s running around, carefree in her fabulous outfits she creates because she things they look ah-may-zing!
I never want there to be even a glimmer of doubt in her mind about this.
She carefully crafted this outfit (photo above) for her Kingergarten registration. She marched out of her room with her head held high and told me she chose to wear this because she wanted to look AMAZING.
We smiled and told her she did. And so did everyone else at Kinder registration, because there’s nothing more beautiful than a little girl that proud of who she is!
When she was a baby, and even still today, my husband sings her a song from this CD, telling her she’s the “most beautiful girl, in the whole wide world”. Her big brother has learned the tune, and he frequently sings it to her as well. Her personal little lullaby, sparking her first little sentence as an infant to be: “whole wide world” as she attempts to sing it too.
We all remind her that she’s beautiful throughout the day, not because we have to, but because it is a part of who she is.
She doesn’t know the difference yet, but there will be a day when she longs to hear those simple words “you look beautiful,” and I want her to hear them from me, from my husband and from her big brother first. To know in the very core of her being that we are behind her, reminding her that God has made her beautiful.
Just like He’s made her smart, feisty and with a larger-than-life personality. All of these things are true, none of them should be ignored, least of all beauty.
It’s not wrong for little girls to want to be beautiful, this is a desire that runs to our very core as women, it feeds the fashion industry and is at the heart of many eating disorders and plays a role in a girl’s self-worth or lack thereof.
We can’t ignore beauty. We can’t act like it doesn’t exist, or it doesn’t matter. Because it does. Beauty isn’t everything, but it is something. It shouldn’t be discounted.
I realize that if we don’t tell her, she’ll look for someone else to fill that need. She’ll try to find ways to make herself be enough for some one. She’ll search for clothes to make her pretty enough or makeup to cover her perceived flaws.
I’m not against pretty clothes and even though I don’t wear it myself, I’m not against makeup either. I love to dress up and wear fancy clothing. These things are not wrong in and of themselves.
I just want to be sure every bit of her knows that that she can get all dolled up, and she will look beautiful, and then she can take it all off, slip into some jeans and a t-shirt and she’ll still be gorgeous. I want her to know that she is beautiful. Not clothing, not fancy hair or makeup. She is. From her heart to her face, to her body and I’ll never stop telling her.
Lovely, lovely post, Paula! And I totally agree– I want my little daughter to know she is beautiful AND valued for a thousand different reasons. Thanks for the reminder and so glad I stopped by from SDG link up. Blessings.
Erica - Let Why Lead says
I’m with you, Paula! I’d been thinking about writing along the same lines, because we’ve been seeing this huge swing of the pendulum where people are so careful not to emphasize looks that they say nothing at all. I don’t think that approach is healthy, but I do think meeting in the middle is. Which is why I appreciated your post. :)
I agree. I don’t have girls of my own, but I am painfully aware of this topic of conversation. I have lot of friends with little girls and I cannot help but say, you’re so beautiful to their little ones. It is exactly as you say, I want them to know that they are beautiful for 1000 reasons, but isn’t it also okay to accept that women are the CROWN of the Lord’s creation? That we are typically more feminine, delicate, and soft than our counterparts? Being told we have beauty to offer this world – inside and out, heart and appearance – is a gift. As a mom of boys, we work for them to appreciate all things about mommy, but sometimes noticing the beauty of my hair or nails is a sweet gift of beauty I offer them – like they might notice the leaves on trees, the sparkling water of a river, etc. And, just to be clear, women can notice this gift of beauty, strength, masculinity in men as well :)
I love what you say here. I have two little girl, 1 & 3, and I have been telling them both from birth how beautiful they are. Any time I have both of them on my lap, I hug them tight and tell them they are the two most beautiful girls in the whole world. Now sometimes when they are both on my lap, my oldest will hug me and her younger sister and say ‘my most beautiful girls in the whole world’ and of course my heart melts. Great post!
Great words! You can never say “your are beautiful” too many times. Little girls form their attitudes about beauty not only by what we tell them but even more by the healthy self- image we as Mommies have. We have to live like we are beautiful and reflect the beauty God created in us so they can mimic our actions and attitudes.
Ashley @ 3 Little Greenwoods says
I totally agree with is post! Growing up my father would always introduce me as “my pretty girl Ashley”. Even on my worst days, I still think in the back of my mind that I am pretty no matter what and can handle anything that comes my way.
Oh, so wonderful! I just found your blog and first of all, love its name. Beauty comes from within us, not from external sources like the world, like you beautifully described.
Emily @ Words I Wheel By says
Such a gorgeous sentiment! This is so incredibly important for little girls to hear.
This is SO true! We need to keep telling our little girls how beautiful they are, inside and out, because God has made them just they way He wants them to be and that is, truly, beautiful! Thanks for sharing and linking up to the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop at Katherine’s Corner. Hope to see you again next week! Nina @ mamas*little*treasures
Valerie @ Momma in Progress says
I agree . . . and I tell my daughters (and my son) they are beautiful every single day. And I mean in both the inside and outside sense. I think it’s important for children to hear. Visiting from SITS. Have a wonderful day!
Jennifer-Mommy Life After Ph.D. says
Great post, and I agree we should give our girls that confidence, but I try to focus more on developing inner beauty and a kind spirit. I actually wrote a post on this same topic earlier this week! http://www.mommylifeafterphd.com/2014/02/kindness-andvegetables.html
Nicole Robinson @MyCollegeBaby says
Right on, if we don’t tell our girls that they are beautiful, inside and out, they’ll wait for the world to weigh in. It’s also really powerful when dads reinforce the message.
I couldn’t agree more. I am so sensitive to this issue around my daughter and when she was first born I used to think so hard about whether she should see me putting on make up or looking at myself in the mirror. But, of course she should. Feeling beautiful is not bad. Making it everything is.
Visiting from SITS! I have a baby girl who just turned one. This is something I think of daily and what I realized, thankfully now rather than later, is that her body image will be a reflection of my own. Having her around has made me speak more kindly to myself and to never critique my body in front of her. I want her to grow up knowing that her mommy things of herself as beautiful just as she should!
I am visiting from Sits Girls but I must say, this post will make me come back. It is so sad that society makes little girls feel like they need to look or act a certain way in order to be loved. My daughter is 11 and I am already answering questions she has on how pretty she is, how smart she is, why others are prettier, smarter etc. It makes me want to cry. This article was perfect and I hope many, many people read it. I shared on Twitter and liked on Facebook as well. :)
Jenna // A Mama Collective says
This is SO beautiful. I feel the EXACT same way about my girls, and try to (often) tell them they are beautiful, despite what they look like or what they’re doing. They are beautiful and smart! My two favorite things to tell them :) Thank you so much for sharing an incredibly beautiful and important post. Glad to have found you at the Sharefest ;) ~Jenna
This is very beautiful and very true – I don’t have a girl but I have a son and everyday I still tell him he’s handsome and smart just so he gets used to this as his truth. Have a great one Paula! -Iva
shoooo cute :) luvd ur post
I agree. I do tell mine. Also, if you do not tell your girls someone else will. It is better to come from you first. Also, important to let your boys know they are handsome, because both boys and girls receive enough negativity in the world today.
No disrespect meant, because I can see you mean well. However, I have a few different thoughts. First of, if we tell girls they are pretty, we really also should tell little boys.
Secondly, I don’t tell my child he’s beautiful. I don’t tell him he’s so smart either. Although he is, of course, the most beautiful and smartest little boy.
Instead, I tell him every day, that he is just fine the way he is and that I will love him no matter what or who he decides he wants to be. I also emphasize that as long as he tries something, it is OK to fail. I do expect him to try everything, especially when I think it’s something he can do. I praise him when he recognizes he needs help.
My parents always told me I’m so smart and so pretty and now I’m stuck whenever I do not feel pretty or cannot live up to the highest expectations. I hate that they Always emphasized my looks, because my body has changed after being a mommy and I have issues with that. I wished they had emphasized ‘just being me’ and ‘just trying’.