When I look at my blog stats, web surfers daily find their way to Life’s So Sweet through search terms related to “nice things to say to your daughter”. The post they land on is here, and it describes 5 of the best things a parent could say to his/her daughter, based on my own experience as a woman in her mid-20s, a daughter, and a school counselor who works with young girls. The list is:
1. You are beautiful.
2. I love you.
3. You’re worth it.
4. That’s a good idea.
5. You’re beautiful.
One of the comments below the post reads:
What a tragedy. “You are beautiful,” is on there twice, yet “you are intelligent,” didn’t even make the cut. Teaching your daughter to define herself by beauty, in a culture swarming with images of impossibly beautiful (Photoshopped) women, only sets her up for a lifetime of obsessive consumerism to try to live up to- and hold on to- that beauty or risk losing herself. Also noticeably missing from this list are: “you are strong,” or “you are energetic,” or “you are spirited,” or “you are smart,” or “you are unique,” or ” etc etc etc. Why not emphasize her achievement equally alongside her physical self?
I respect her opinion. I can completely see where she thought I was focusing on outward beauty. But the point with that post wasn’t beauty. It was letting the audience know, as a daughter and woman, what words from my parents helped shape my sense of self, which isn’t the strongest but at least I know I am beautiful and I know I am loved. Both of which are commodities when it comes to a woman’s daily thought patterns.
The criticism above is upset with the fact that I emphasized outward beauty. My point in putting “You are beautiful” on there twice was to make sure your daughter knows that despite America’s typical standard of beauty – which is unrealistic and fake – she is beautiful. No matter her shape or size, the color of her hair or the color of her eyes, the shape of her face or visible scars she may carry – she is beautiful. Every young girl should hear “You are beautiful” as often as possible so that she grows up knowing she is. Because there will come a day in every single girl/woman’s life when someone or something makes her feel un-pretty. Even the women with the most celebrated beauty in our culture go through periods where they don’t feel beautiful. They need to hear their parents’ words in their heads and in their hearts. On their un-pretty days they need “You are beautiful” on repeat instead of “You’re too fat”, “your face is too narrow”, “your skin is too white”, “you’re too skinny”. They need the positive on repeat, especially in a culture where negativity regarding beauty is one of the easiest traps to fall into.
I understand where the criticism was coming from, but I hope readers understood my message. And in case readers didn’t, and it comes across as too aesthetically-centered, here are five more things your daughter would benefit from hearing:
1. I love you because …
2. You are smart.
3. You deserve the best.
4. Just be you.
5. I’m proud of you.
Above all, your daughter should know that no matter what – and I mean, no matter what – you’ve got her back. Think of everything your daughters could be if she grows up knowing she is loved and she is supported. As she grows up knowing those facts to be absolutely true, and she chooses to believe you over the negativity which abounds most places outside your house’s four walls, you might just witness a miracle before your very eyes.