Meghan wrote an inspiring post yesterday on the early objectification of girls (aka why the whore dolls will never be allowed in my home. Ever.) It started my brain on a tangent and I've been thinking about it ever since.
A couple months ago, Dave noticed himself constantly telling Genoa she is beautiful. It's hard to resist saying it, because, well, we're constantly noticing it.
Every time Dave walks into the room and sees her, he says, "Hello beautiful baby girl!" He started thinking it would be better to begin telling her she was smart instead, going out of his way to focus less on her beauty and more on her brains.
I completely disagreed.
In the quest for the holy grail of a girl's self esteem, feeling beautiful matters. We could spend the next fifteen years focusing on how absolutely brilliant and brainy our daughter is, but that's not going to make a LICK of a difference when adolescence comes along and pretty is the only thing she and her peers are hormonally programmed to care about.
I think the best way to make beauty a non-issue for our daughter is to let her know that we think she is beautiful ALL THE TIME, constantly, every day. It's especially important that the praise come from Dave, too, since so much of a girl's self-esteem comes from her relationship with her father. I want the concept of her gorgeousness to be so deeply ingrained in her psyche as to make it a given, an automatic assumption she has about herself. I hope that by doing so, it won't matter what any one else thinks, or at least not as much. I hope knowing that her parents love her and think she is the prettiest girl in the universe will free her mind up to worry about more important things, like getting in to UC Berkeley.
I have a lot of feelings about what's beautiful and I really believe feeling good about yourself, no matter what your physical characteristics are, is what matters. Genoa is not going to grow up in a home where her mother wastes even one minute of the day worrying about whether or not she's meeting any of the unattainable standards of beauty set by the fashion industry. Her mother will never try to convince herself or anyone else that happiness can be found on the size label in a pair of jeans or a number on the scale. She will, however, grow up in a home where her mother goes out of her way to feel attractive about herself - a mother who wears makeup, does her hair and never leaves the house in sweat pants.
Of course Genoa will also grow up in a home where brains are valued and hard work is rewarded. The self-esteem that CAN be earned is going to BE earned, not given away just for looking pretty. As often as we tell her she's beautiful, we'll be telling her she's smart. We'll be challenging her intellect and constantly building her analytical skills. (The same goes for her brother for that matter.) She's going to grow up knowing that brains really DO matter more than beauty. I just don't think it can hurt for her to know she's been blessed with a power-packed combination of both.