I’ve done a lot of extra Facebook browsing this week in an effort to be inspired to write. I’m passionate and opinionated about a multitude of things, and on Facebook, I tend to find lots of things I’m passionate about. That’s kind of the nice thing about it, and other social media platforms. So much information is shared, people share their opinions (note: this part isn’t always nice), and people can discuss and debate things usually like mature adults. I, for one, love a good debate. I love having a difference in opinions with people and hearing why they think differently, and I love “defending” my side. I think debate and discussion is healthy and valuable to every relationship.
As I was browsing this week, I found an article that, while intriguing, actually ruffled my feathers a bit. Not a lot of things do so, and I’ll admit I definitely get passionate about some things, but this one got me a little heated. Maybe it just hit too close to home.
The article I’m referring to openly requests that people not make small talk about her daughter’s appearance.
Let me preface by saying that I absolutely believe there is more to a person than their looks. I want my daughter to know that, of course. Here’s where I see the issue. Am I not supposed to call her beautiful? Should I tell strangers not to?
Firstly, when someone first meets a child, they know nothing about their complex little personalities. If you have a child, or have been around one, you know they’re a lot like an onion. They have many layers to the personality, and it can seem to change on a daily basis. That being said, when I first meet a child or see a baby, the only thing I know about them initially, is that they’re cute, or beautiful, or handsome. I make a point to say that, but I also make a point to get to know them and tell them they’re brave, smart, or strong, at least something along those lines. I should add that I completely adore kids. Not all people are willing to spend the time getting to know your kid, especially someone like a stranger just passing by in a grocery store. I can’t tell you how many times people stop me in the store to comment on my daughter’s eyes. I love when they compliment her. Why? Because she IS beautiful. But I also spend time with her as much as I can, and as she explores new skills and learns new things, I comment on how smart she is. When she pushes up from her belly at 3.5 months old, I tell her how strong she is.
I do think that there needs to be a balance, and 90% of that balance is going to come from mom and dad, telling their kids all the wonderful things about them, not just appearance. But I certainly don’t think people complimenting my daughter mean any harm. She deserves to know she’s beautiful, every little girl does! And for that matter, every little boy deserves to know he’s handsome. People (men and women) struggle with their self esteem as an adult, and as a parent, I don’t think I should add to that in childhood by restricting people from commenting on their appearance. So yes, stranger in the grocery store, you’re right! My daughter does have piercing eyes, and she is beautiful. Thank you! Additionally, if I want people to comment on her other traits that they may not know about, I can always add my own commentary: “yes she is, and she’s smart to boot!” I see where the author I referenced is coming from, I do. We live in a society where looks are far too important, where beauty determines your worth (not in my book, I’m speaking about models, etc.), and people overlook the important things like being able to hold an intelligent conversation, knowing right from wrong, and other detrimental traits. At the same time, I still want my daughter to know she’s beautiful, even if I’m the only one who thinks so. I believe that children should be well-rounded. I want a good education for her, I want her to have good morals, and good self esteem along with that.
What do you think? Is commenting on a child’s appearance forcing them to think that’s all that matters? Is it harmful or harmless?