Here’s a question for parents of little girls: do you encourage your daughters to say thank you when strangers tell them they look pretty? I am really resistant to doing so because I think it’s training them to expect and tolerate unsolicited comments on their looks, to learn…
I also have a four year old daughter, and you’re more than welcome to look through my blog for her photos. She is GORGEOUS and has amazing hair. She also has a really cute smile and a really lively personality.
Naturally, she has always gotten a lot of compliments on her looks, and I gotta tell ya… I felt THE EXACT SAME WAY you do. So, we learned to redirect the compliments correctly.
When Alicia is complimented on how “pretty” she is, she will 9/10 times answer with “I know, and I’m soooooo smart/big/funny!” When she’s complimented on her smile, she responds with “Yeah, because I brush my teeth everyday.”
Now, while this doesn’t stop the compliments, it does give her the chance to self-validate the fact that looks aren’t the most important thing. Additionally, it (hopefully) leaves the person asking thinking about what compliments really mean.
Personally, I believe this proves that not only does Alicia know how to take a compliment, but she also acknowledges all the non-visual great things about her in a world where girls are constantly getting bombarded with how “pretty” they are/should be….AND isn’t afraid to show it.
We did have a situation at the gym parking lot a few weeks ago where a guy made a “compliment” (cat-calling!!!) and I politely said, “Excuse me, you’re making us uncomfortable. My daughter and I are young ladies and we don’t appreciate those kinds of rude remarks, you cannot speak to us that way.”
Once in the car, Alicia immediately asked why I responded that way, and I let her know. “Because I’m polite and respectful, and I want people to be that way with us…or not talk to us at all.” I had a very clear conversation with her about how sometimes people don’t always mean things the way they say them and how we can stop comments that make us feel uncomfortable while still being “polite.”
The key is to TALK TALK TALK to your kids. They WANT to understand the world and how to behave and what to expect from it. We can’t control other people, but we can control how we react to them.
What insightful advice
this doesnt just happen to little girls, either. auggie’s a pretty cute kid and we are constantly having people telling him (yes, him, directly, at a year and a half) that he should be a model.
my friend is a fashion designer and while at her fashion show the other day, we had no less than 4 ladies come and say ‘oh my - you are beautiful! i bet you’ll be walking down the runway today!’
even now, when he’s so young, i feel that our reaction to these kinds of compliments is important. mostly, we laugh and say ‘he’s pretty darn smart too - he can already count to ten!’
i don’t think that this discounts their remarks - it simply puts smarts and looks on a more even playing field. in ‘real life’, looks do count - and as much as i hate to say it, i know it’s true. auggie will grow up knowing that, even if he turns out to be a devilishly good-looking lady/dude-killer, that’s not the only thing that matters. a big brain is just as attractive as a sparkling smile.30