Pretty Is Not A Bad Word

I follow a few “geeky maternal unit” specific websites and social media sources and one message keeps popping up: Princess culture is bad. Some have even gone so far as to say they don’t tell their daughters that they are pretty. Furthermore, if you do you are dooming your own child to a fate of stupidity and abject un-exceptionalism.

Utterly inane rubbish. The lot of it. The only thing that princess and pretty have in common is that they start with the same letter.


As a matter of fact, you should tell her she is pretty every day. You should tell her she is pretty when she is dressed like a princess. You should tell her she is pretty when she is dressed like Iron Man. You should tell her she is pretty when she is playing in the jewelry box and when she is playing in the dirt. You should tell her she is pretty when she is going to school or daycare. You should tell her she is pretty when she has just gotten up, her hair is a disaster and she has crusted drool running down her chin. Because she is. You should start teaching her she is pretty before you start teaching her the ABCs.

She will hear that she isn’t pretty soon enough. She will hear that message loud and clear from her peers, and the television, and magazines, and the internet. She will hear that she needs to use this makeup or lose the weight or have this type of hair or wear these clothes to be pretty. She will hear that smart girls are ugly and have no friends. She will hear that pretty girls are dumber than a box of rocks and popular. She will believe it if you haven’t taught her better.

Our society, as of late, has placed a premium on being smart. Geek culture is in and anything perceived as smart is trendy. Intelligence and education certainly increase your prospects across the board as you move through life. But our society also places a premium on beauty. Anyone who tells you otherwise is living in a world of zero calorie sundaes and unicorns that poop rainbows. So teaching little girls that they are smart and teaching them that they are pretty are both important lessons. Speaking from experience, a girl who has never doubted that she is smart but never learned that she is pretty faces her own set of challenges that impact almost every social, personal, and professional interaction she has.

The kicker here is that you can tell your little girl she is pretty all day long. But ladies, if we don’t tell ourselves that we are pretty when we are dressed up like princesses or playing in the dirt, it does no good. Not one iota.

If we don’t tell ourselves we are pretty when we have just woken up, our hair is disastrous and there is crusted drool running down our chin, our little girls will never believe us when we tell them that they are pretty that way. We have to learn to love ourselves a little. We have to learn to love each other too. Instead of making a snarky comment about the lady at Target in yoga pants wearing no make-up, point out how great she looks.

Our girls are watching us. Showing them what pretty looks like is so much more powerful than telling them what pretty looks like.

If they see us feeling pretty just the way we are they will feel pretty just the way they are. That is such an important thing to teach.

I tell my daughter ever day that I am glad God gave her to me. I also tell my daughter daily she is smart, and beautiful, and kind. Because I want her to know that she is all of those things. I want her to know those things are not mutually exclusive of each other. Smart girls can be beautiful. Beautiful girls can be smart. Everyone can be kind.

So my daughter has heard that she is pretty every day she has been alive. She will keep hearing it. And I am starting to tell myself the same thing every day too. Because she needs to see me feeling pretty and being smart. My hope is that feeling pretty and feeling smart will be as natural for her as breathing air. That will just be the way things are.

Because there is nothing wrong with being pretty.

We do our daughters no favors by separating pretty and smart. Our daughters are both, each and every one of them. And we should tell them every chance we get.

Pretty is not a bad word.

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