I tell my four year old daughter that she’s beautiful. I also tell her she’s smart, creative, funny and genuinely one of the coolest kids that I know.
I tell her those last four things way more than I tell her the first thing, but still, I tell her she’s beautiful. Because she is … not just on the outside, but also on the inside.
A few days ago a friend of mine posted a Facebook picture of her daughter in a ballerina-type dance costume. She looked …beautiful. I commented with such on the picture and then followed it with “Is it still okay to tell girls they are beautiful?”
It wasn’t sarcastic, it was genuine. As soon as I typed that the daughter looked beautiful, I had a weird feeling of concern about how it would be received. There’s such an extreme movement of what we can and can’t say to girls that a simple, honest comment made me uncomfortable.
I hate that.
According to Dictionary.com, beautiful is defined as:
A seagull soaring against a blue sky is beautiful.
That first bite of ice cream from your favorite summer shop is beautiful.
A single blooming flower in the snow is beautiful.
Warm sun on your face during a crisp autumn day is beautiful.
Concern for another human being is beautiful.
A single red, hard-earned “A” on a test paper is … beautiful.
So is a proud little girl in her ballerina costume.
Instead of saying that we can no longer tell our daughters that they’re beautiful, why don’t we educate people on using the word to mean a myriad of great characteristics?
I don’t want to remove the word “beautiful” from my daughter’s vocabulary (or, mine for that matter). Instead, I want to teach her that beautiful is many things about her–the tiny imperfect gap in between her front teeth, the indomitable self-confidence, her awesome sense of humor, the way her hair is mixed with just the right amount of red within blond and brown.
Beauty is in the physical.
Beauty is in the internal.
Beauty is in the flaws.
I want her to associate all those things with “beauty” so that when she hears someone tell her that she’s “beautiful” she says “thank you” and smiles with self-confidence knowing that it can be about her looks, but it doesn’t have to be.