Question time: do you tell your daughter she's beautiful? I do at least once a day. Sometimes more. Never less. The responses vary. Sometimes she tells me I'm beautiful too. Other times she says, "I know."
She doesn't say it smugly. It's more a simple admission of fact, the same answer you'd give if someone said, "It's raining outside" or "There are eggs in the fridge." She accepts that she's beautiful because for as long as she can remember, I have told her it's true.
And yet, among a certain set of parents, what I'm doing is just this side of abuse.
What's with the backlash against beautiful? According to some, telling a girl she's pretty focuses too much on her looks. Some will say you risk raising a girl who is vain, others that your daughter will be lacking confidence in the more important areas such as academics or athletics.
Just a few weeks ago, blogger and mom Devan McGuinness railed against the people who tell her daughters they're beautiful, stating, "I worry that this typical conversation will influence my girls into thinking that they are only noticed for what they look like -- only after that will someone will take the time to get to know them."
Before that, it was Emma Heist Moss on The Good Men Project warning us that "no matter how old your daughter is she is receiving messages from every angle that tell her that her primary path to success is being beautiful."
The arguments are valid and yet shortsighted. They carry with them an assumption that when a girl is told she's beautiful that it's the only thing she hears.
In some houses, that is the sad reality.
In our house, it couldn't be further from the truth. We also tell our 7-year-old that she's smart. And funny. And silly. And that sometimes she's a little bossy (hey, she needs to hear it from somewhere).
She's hardly lacking in boosters in the important areas of her life, and yes, that includes someone telling her that she's beautiful.
What we look like is still part of us. It may not be the most important thing; but if you say it doesn't matter at all, you're either lying or deluded.
Parents you could tell your daughter all those things and not mention her looks, but as a woman who spent much of her teenage years (and some of the adult ones too) battling an eating disorder, I have to warn against it.
Everyone wants to hear that they're beautiful, even young girls.
As a mother, it's my job to step in, to be the one who makes sure my daughter hears it. If I don't, who will? Who will step up to make sure my daughter feels comfortable in her skin, feels happy with every single part of herself, not just her brain or her strong legs?
Do you believe it's wrong to tell girls they are beautiful?
Image via Theodore Scott/Flickr