At great grandmother's house
As parents, we have always called her "pretty" and "beautiful". We have called her funny, clever, artistic, (but never tidy). Creative, but not organised.
My parents never called me pretty. Not even on my wedding days. I thought my mother was beautiful, but either she didn't think I was, or didn't want to say it. Maybe her parents never said it to her, I don't know. I grew up interested in makeup, nails , fashion and hair. I made the most of my appearance from the time I started to earn my own money. I got my ears pierced. I did makeup and clothes on other people, at one time, as I got pretty good at it. It's significant that I had boyfriends and husbands in my life, from age 16 , without much of a break. I didn't have to learn true independence, how to change a tyre, for example, even when I lived alone. I think I always needed someone to think I was special.
My parents cared about school and university grades, not appearance, so as long as I was neat and tidy, my clothes went unremarked. I'm appreciative they bought me clothes and took care of them until I earned money. They did buy me braces for my teeth, and I'm grateful, as they were expensive even back then.
From age 16 , I started using my Mum's makeup foundation mixed with white zinc cream , as my skin was Celtic fair, dabbed on to cover my zits. I would wear her mascara to school as my eyelashes were long, but strawberry blonde at that time, and matched my auburn hair. I did not think having Celtic looks was pretty. No one told me otherwise. I didn't think my long wavy hair was pretty, so I curled it at night. Now that it has darkened, and I have greys, I now know it was lovely back then.
At around age 17. It must have been Winter as I was wearing a jumper (sweater) under my dress.
With Miffy the dog
For years I have tried to get that auburn colour back . I used my Dad's razor to shave my legs. If my parents knew about me using their stuff they said nothing. I got $2 a month pocket money, which I spent on gifts. Their priorities were study and music lessons. Fair enough, I really appreciate it. Still, there was a dimension to me that wanted to be pretty, for someone to say I was.
I think every parent should think their daughters are pretty, and say it often. If your father tells you that you are attractive, you're unlikely to fall for any man who says those things, you will be more discriminating. You will be comfortable to spend periods of time without a man. If your mother has always told you, you're not likely to get unnecessary plastic surgery.
We crave the approval of our parents. My hubby is a stubborn man, who can't be told what to say, or think, but he's always called his little one "pretty" and "beautiful". I buy my daughter age appropriate makeup and proper acne wash, not the oatmeal soap that was all I was given for my zits, that had no effect. I want her to have good self esteem, and fit in with her peers. I treasure the little shopping trips with her, even if it's just shampoo we are buying.
Why am I bringing this up with you today? Because I've seen several opinion pieces lately saying that we should not call our daughters pretty or beautiful, for feminist reasons. Then today I saw this video
I disagree. We should point out our kid's talents to them, their achievements need to be extolled. However, in every society, appearance is important, like it or not. Unless you take down an entire beauty industry, daughters everywhere will continue to be exposed to society's expectations. I saw some comments under those articles, by women wishing their parents had called them pretty. I understood where they were coming from perfectly.
I have a friend I called pretty and beautiful. That was just the way I saw her. Later I found out her father had always called her fat. Little wonder she doesn't think highly of herself. This week she is having a birthday. She is still beautiful, as the years go by. Happy Birthday, if you're reading.
Please write your opinions about bringing up girls and experiences in the comments below.