Pretty or ????

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by susiestar, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    There were a lot of little girls in Walmart the other day and I noticed something. All of their parents seemed to use the word "pretty" to describe them. You are too pretty to wear that/behave that way/do that/be bad. (I HATE the phrase be bad or bad child - behaviors are bad, people esp kids are NOT, but that is for another time).

    Clothes, shoes, etc... were evaluated on how pretty the girl woudl look. Snacks were chosen not for health or taste, but because they would help or not help the girls to look pretty.

    I don't know if these girls were all part of some group, but it seemed that more than usual were in the store with their parents. There were boys there, but not as many. The girls were all ages, and didn't have any common shirt or bag or anything. It just seemed like they were out shopping for stuff, not getting stuff for a recital or pageant or something.

    Do you describe your daughter as pretty most of the time? When Jess was little it seemed like a lot of the girls in her daycare were focused on being pretty. It bugs me because pretty seems like a very superficial thing. We came up with the phrase "strong smart girl" because that is what I want MY daughter to think of herself as. Pretty can be achieved with cosmetics and clothes, strong and smart you work for and you EARN and you OWN.

    So very many clothing lines put words like sweet and sassy and idiotic phrases like "too cute to learn algebra" or "too pretty to study" on clothes and then sell them to girls. Jess had a couple of shirts that said princess, but most of the sayings that are about girls/women? Not on my kid while she lives in my home. Period.

    I respect that others have a right to let their kids wear anything, and frankly, most shirts are just shirts. Period. I just worry that our daughters are growing up thinkng pretty is the main thing they should value. I know how my peers felt when their parents focused on how they looked, and how ended up with a lot of problems related to their appearance. I can be as vain as anyone else and I spent hours on hair and makeup as a teen and even now will spend time on how I look and helping Jess with her hair or whatever she wants within reason. There is a place for valuing appearance, and I am not meaning that there isn't. I just worry that so many girls are told that pretty is important and they end up thinking that pretty is their main function in the world.

    It sure seemed that way in the brief amt of time I saw the various little girls at the store.

    So what do you think? Do you see a lot more emphasis on pretty than on other things? Should we be worried?
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip


    I've been known to tell Onyxx she was too smart to do something... And, on different occasions, I will tell her she looks gorgeous... But she's not "too pretty" to do whatever it is.

    Well... Except maybe she is too pretty to dress inappropriately...

    I think some people are too concerned with "pretty". Honestly, to me, looks are nice (I think I look better with makeup, husband thinks without)... But... They're not as important as what's inside... because Onyxx is gorgeous when she is smiling, and DANG she's ugly when screaming obscenities. So... I can see past the facade...
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    "Pretty" isn't in our vocabulary, except in it's alternate incarnation... "pretty soon" and so on.

    "Pretty is as pretty does."

    If either kid (we cover both genders) is dressed really appropriately, we tell them they look "sharp".
    If they dress like slobs, we tell them they look like... slobs.
    Pretty is not something to be, or to pursue.
    In fact, in our house, even beauty isn't something to pursue.
    Your looks are... whatever you happened to get.
    What matters is what YOU put into that package.

    Which means.. daughter gets absolutely crucified at school, because all the other girls are... only interested in "being pretty", which in the common vernacular, essentially means "being pretty sleazy".
  4. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I agree with what you're saying, however, I do think it's equally important to tell our girls and boys they are pretty, cute, handsome, whatever.

    The particular scenario you described would have made me uncomfortable as well, in terms of any child being too pretty for ..... That's just creepy.

    Physical smarts can be just as important as intellectual smarts and I think as parents we need to acknowledge both. By always focusing on strength of character and intelligence and always leaving out aesthetic beauty, I think it could cause some kids, especially girls, to develop a complex about their looks. I see nothing wrong with complimenting my daughters on a nice outfit, pretty hair, beautiful eyes, etc. Especially teens - they are soooooo self conscious about their looks and ability to fit in.

    That said, I've believed that most mainstream media places too much importance on girls being pretty and boys being manly forever. And what has always struck me as being very strange is that the clothing made for children are just miniature versions of adult clothing....yet, we infantalize our children by micromanaging them well into their twenties! What is up with that?!
  5. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    With Step-D, I do tell her often that she is pretty (as well as smart, worthy of respect, etc.). It's different in that she's an adult, and it's part of my effort to undo some of the damage done by her bio-mom calling her ugly, worthless, a sl*t and much much worse when she was growing up, so I think that's a different case.

    I do tell Tyrantina that she;s wearing a pretty dress, or her hairstyle looks pretty, or that sort of thing, but again it's when we've just spent time combing her hair, or she's chosen her own outfit, or something similar. She seems to associate it with wearing something purple or pink with lots of ribbons or flowers, etc. It's not really tied to behaviour, or appropriateness, or anything fundamental like that though.

    With behaviour, we usually ask Tyrantina, "Would you please whatever-it-is properly this time?" or "Will you say that with nice manners, please?" Or something that focuses on the behaviour or the situation at hand, rather than how it relates to her appearance.

    I think the idea that a girl is "too pretty to fill-in-the-blank" will certainly lead to trouble later on, as so much will be tied to her appearance. I'd rather hear "too smart" or "too well brought up" or "too strong" or "you know better than that" or just about anything else relating to exercising good judgement.
  6. southermama3

    southermama3 New Member

    Society now a day seems to emphasize on how a girl projects herself. My first picture in my head is a lil blond girl holing a toy dog and toting a pink purse. It's almost like the cig comp had to pull their tv commercials they STILL find ways to imprint on our brains and if u think u can swear u seen a commercial last night endowing smoking but in reality u problem passed 10 billboards that subconsciously is causing u the mentAl screw up.

    My girls I always tell them being cool is being u and if u show everybody your you they will want to feel the way u do about urself. I always dress my kids like kids and never like adults and I don't care who or what millionaire fashionesta says is "cute" or "pretty"
  7. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    That's an interesting point of view. One that had never occurred to me! My son is very good-looking but I have never said this to him - whereas I do often tell him he is kind, lovely, good, clever, perceptive, etc. Maybe I am wrong to leave the handsome out... it just seems to me like a thing of not so much value?
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Malika - there are other words, instead of handsome. Handsome specifically refers to what you are born with (or pretend to have been born with but that's a different issue.) However, words like "sharp" portray the "whole picture" being well put together... looks, hair-cut, clothing that is appropriate to the occasion, etc. "Sharp" for a wedding is different than "sharp" for a school picture. But yes, it does pay to think about the words we use and the message it conveys to the psyche.
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I agree that ignoring appearance causes as many problems as making it the major focus. We have always told our kids when they look good, and found something nice and complimentary to say when they worked hard to look a certain way. I have no problem encouraging my children to take care of themselves and to take pride in looking nice. I just don't want it to be their only or even their primary yardstick to measure themselves or others by.
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    the fact is kids get messages about looks being important so I do agree in a balance. All kids should feel they are great looking.... pretty, handsome, spiffy, whatever you like... I especially think girls need to have their dads tell them they are beautiful.

    No doubt though the higher values, being smart, funny, kind, etc... are way more important to emphasize. Q has asked if he looks autistic and ugly... I dont know where he gets that idea??? I tell him no one can tell if someone is autistic by how they look. He thought his teeth looked bad, his nose, etc. I have NEVER ever said anything negative about his looks (well might have mentioned the half shaved eyebrow we discussed before was not the cutest look)... but where could he get that if not from out and about. He is told his school pictures are amazing, he is handsome etc. all along with being brave, smart, etc.
  11. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, I do tell J if he looks smart. But physical looks? I don't know... all my life I've had close relationships with people who were very good-looking and yet... pretty unbeautiful on the inside, in many ways. I just don't value it any more.
  12. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Certainly worth some thought. I do see a cultural change from generation to generation. I find it abhorent that little girls rarely just were jeans and a tee and actually play. Although I am not close with my youngest gd I have heard her saying to peers "oh, I love your outfit" and "where did you get those awesome shoes" age six, seven etc. Her Mom uses the word "pretty" alot. In fact she really is a pretty little girl but I think it is emphasized too much.

    My easy child#1 was absolutely darling as a little girl. Then she had a growth spurt, had to wear glasses and ended up having acne too. She is and was a caring, intelligent and kind person. Thank heavens she was not surrounded by "pretty" as the standard. by the way, by college she had grown into herself so to speak and is an attractive woman...who remained caring, intelligent and kind. I'm not a fanatic on the subject but I think superficiality is more common in 2012.

    Interesting post. DDD
  13. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Actually, I think you've just nailed it. If my daughter were a B1!ch but gorgeous to look at, I would be hard pressed to tell her that she's beautiful. To me, beauty is part of the whole package. I think it's important to let our kids know when they are attractive. An example would be when difficult child wouldn't shower. When she DID shower or take extra time doing her hair, H or I would make the effort to notice and say, 'wow, your hair looks very pretty like that" or "oh my, that outfit is very lovely on you", flatter her somehow as a means to encourage personal hygiene and care. With easy child, everyone was always telling her she was sooooo gorgeous, so we relied heavily on complimenting her on her grades, hard work,friends, etc., while still acknowledging her outer beauty.
  14. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    I do tell my kids when they look "good" "handsome "pretty" etc... I think it is important for their self esteem.
    V has some dysformic features and I believe it is even more important for him to hear. And I don't say it as a chore, I really mean it! He can be a very handsome little boy. And when he looks like a slob, I tell him too. LOL
    When he was first born, I had a shock: he was not cute... to use a kind word. I will always remember my fisrt thoughts and my parents first reaction was even worst, although they did not actually say anything. Now, I really think he is handsome but I know he will be picked on (he did already as a matter of fact but luckily he did not hear and I put a stop to it real fast). He needs to hear when I, husband, Gpa, Gpa or whoever thinks is looks good.
    on the other hand, Sweet Pea is really a beautiful baby but I always make a point to compliment her on looks AND intellect "such a bright little girl", "smart", "very social baby". Just like I avoid the whole pink thing. She has some clothes but also is dressed like a Tom boy when we are in the yard.
    She will be raised to be a strong woman, not a pretty woman.
  15. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I do take these points. I guess I am talking about how one handles children who are unusually good-looking. I think that, counter to what our society tells us, it is actually a really double-edged sword to be beautiful. To be complimented, noticed, valued primarily for one's looks makes one have a strange relationship with oneself and with others... a cultivation of narcissism that is actually quite empty and unenviable. Hard to explain, perhaps, but I've seen it in operation many times.
  16. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I do tell Duckie that she is beautiful... inside and out. It's with twofold reasoning:

    1. I want her to understand that what's inside is important so she doesn't become "just another pretty face"

    2. My daughter has exceptional physical beauty and she's going to need to know that others see her that way so she isn't seen as a trophy to the guys and, alternatively, think she can use her looks to get ahead.
  17. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I never did this sort of thing. Clothes were clothes...........except maybe a few times when Nichole was trying to do grunge and I'm like why are you trying to hide your beauty? I don't get it with snacks.....I think that one zipped over my head. lol But my kids mostly got healthy stuff anyway. I have, however, seen a parent doing this..........I don't like it, it irks me, not sure why. It just doesn't feel appropriate. Isn't there a better reason for something other than you're pretty?

    I did/do compliment my kids when it's appropriate, but like praise.......I didn't smother them in it.
  18. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Currently Kiddo isn't worried about looks. She gets cranky if I call her "cute" (she is, I think). We discuss looks and intelligence, and use what you have smartly while you have it, because looks don't last and if you don't use that intelligence getting it later ... well, good luck there. If someone is blessed with both, we certainly don't begrudge them for using one to further the other.
  19. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Ok, I also have two extremely pretty girls. Keyana is just flat gorgeous. I have yet to see a shirt that says she is too pretty to learn some subject in school or too pretty to do anything. Maybe its because we are still in the girls dept but I do see the clothes for the kids wearing sizes 12 and under at this point in time. We still have shirts saying Girly Girl, Pretty as a Princess, Princess Power rules, Flower Power, Daddy's Angel, If all else fails ask either Papa or Grandma (she has one of both), If you think Im cute you should see my Daddy, Pretty is skin deep but my smile lasts forever. Not to mention her Disney and justin shirts.
  20. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Pretty was never something I focused on with Miss KT...when the girls at school told her she wasn't pretty, I would tell her she was cute, and cute was better, because pretty fades out but you can be incredibly cute forever. Like me. LOL!