|Claire at Three Years Old|
I have a daughter. She is eight years old. She is smart, and kind, and creative, and sweet... everything you could want in a little girl. She is also, in my absolutely biased opinion, beautiful.
However... I do not tell her she is. And I strongly discourage other people from telling her that as well.
Instead, I tell her, "Pretty is as pretty does." I tell her she is smart, and kind, and creative, and sweet, and everything I could ever want in a little girl.
But I don't say pretty. I don't say beautiful.
You see, I want Claire to focus on being the things that matter: smart, creative, kind. Beauty is superficial, in the eye of the beholder and, ultimately, doesn't matter. Being told she is beautiful by me won't matter because there will always be someone, somewhere, who will tell her she isn't. Either out of jealousy or spite or just a difference of opinion, they will tell her she is ugly, and I want her to absolutely, unequivocally NOT CARE.
I don't ever want her to get a job because she's beautiful. I want her to get a job because she's the best damn candidate in the bunch.
I don't want someone to fall in love with her because of her giant hazel eyes, her wide smile, her cute little pixie chin. I want someone to adore her, worship her, admire her and love her because her heart is beautiful. Her spirit is gorgeous.
About 3 years ago I came across Katie Makkai's "Pretty". It's slam poetry, a genre I'm not terribly familiar with. But it is absolutely spot on:
"The word pretty is unworthy of everything you will be, and no child of mine will be contained in five letters. You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing, but you will never be merely 'pretty.'"