Why I’d Rather You Not Call My Daughter “Pretty”

Dear Dad,

My husband and I have noticed that you talk about our daughter’s beauty a ton. With her curls, full cheeks and wide eyes, she is strikingly gorgeous, yes. She gets a lot of compliments on her looks out in the world, and doesn’t care for the attention. In fact, she’s begun to say “No,” and turn away.

Moving forward, I need you to compliment her differently. We don’t want her to internalize compliments on beauty as something that’s different and possibly not good about her. Especially as she gets older, we don’t want to make her self-conscious or cause her to feel that her beauty makes her different in a bad way. I know you don’t want to be anything but loving to her, so maybe you don’t realize how you sound.pretty

We believe that those of us who’re closest to our daughter can serve her best by focusing on the internal things that she can control about herself, like how she works hard to put her shoes on, and how empathetic she is when a friend is upset. Our sweet girl didn’t choose how she looks. Of course she will know that her family thinks she’s beautiful, both inside and out. But just as we do, we need your help in emphasizing and encouraging the things that others are less likely to compliment.

I want to share some tips and articles with you that we refer to often. They help us figure out how to talk to our daughter now and as she gets older.

One article I read almost every month says that noticing a young girl’s appearance first “tells them that looks are more important than anything.” Another tip is that when someone complements your child on their looks, point out something else, to build pretty on like, “Yes, and she’s so smart, too.” Or go for the Kate Winslet approach.

Dad, in my adult life you’ve often asked me why I don’t wear much makeup. You ask in a tone that makes it sound like you think I should. It doesn’t make me feel good, and it’s none of your business. I absolutely don’t want my daughter to hear you ask me about makeup. I wouldn’t want her to internalize that her gramps, who she loves and has such fun with, will love her mom, and maybe even her, more if we choose to wear makeup.

That’s the opposite of how we are raising her.

As Jennifer Aniston recently wrote, “We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies.”

Thank you for reading this. I know that with some extra thought you will help us raise our girl right.


Your Daughter


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