“I’m not beautiful!” said my three year old to my husband. This is not something you ever expect or want to hear your child say.
Thankfully this is not a case of poor body image at such a young and for this I am grateful. I would hate to think that society has such a negative impact on children this young. My daughter’s comment was for a completely different reason.
I intentionally tell my daughter that she is smart, bright, funny and has a lovely smile and while I can look at her and know she is absolutely beautiful, it is because I also know what kind of person she is. When I tell her she is beautiful it is not because I am trying to boost her confidence. At three, she is learning how far she can push boundaries and commenting on what a kind person she is teaches her that she is making the right decisions. It is more about encouraging good behaviour than telling her what a pretty little girl she is.
Like every proud parent, I tell my kids when they look cute in a new outfit or how adorable they are when they have giggle fits but commenting on their looks isn’t the main focus. I want my children to grow up wanting to succeed in life and know they can because they are good, kind people and not because of their looks.
To many reading this, it will seem like I have overthought this whole ‘beauty for kids’ thing. However I would have to disagree. While yes I do want them to grow up being confident with however they look, at this young age I believe it is far more important to encourage their kindness and happiness over anything else. Which is why when my daughter responded to her dad calling her beautiful with “I’m not beautiful, my name is Haddie. You can call me Haddie”, it was a proud parenting moment. Not because she doesn’t agree that she is beautiful, she knows she is. It is because without even realising, she knows that being beautiful doesn’t define who she is.
The standard of beauty that women are expected to strive towards is unrealistic for most. Attempting to conform can leave many of us feeling inadequate and all because we don’t have the shape, skin or structure to look a certain way. It is our responsibility as parents to change this and start redefining what the world sees as beautiful. Obviously what people see as attractive is their own personal preference however we need to reprioritise what we push onto our youth. We need to make health, happiness and kindness play a larger part in our culture instead of physical beauty.
I am leading by example for my children. If other mothers, women, teenagers and girls of all ages stopped comparing themselves to the ‘more beautiful’ people of the world and focused on being joyful and kind, the world would be a much happier place.
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