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Hello to everyone in the essential tremor community!

A few thoughts–I appreciate the message of this essay. However, as now-grown child who was never once told she was pretty by her mother (a small flaw among a million blessings), I take every opportunity to tell my daughters how beautiful they are. I wasn’t told I was pretty – although I was – because it wasn’t valued in my family, and I still suffered every last body image pitfall you list above. I think telling girls they are lovely predates the current pop culture fixation on image. That’s not to say that we don’t have a lot of work to do in making our daughters and other young girls build self-esteem, because of course, we do.

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I think it is great that you used that as a teachable moment. Personally, I wonder if taking it a bit further and explaining to her that acting like or being the “prettiest girl in school” can come off as arrogant to others would be helpful. Obviously, you would have to use different terminology than the word arrogant.

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Hold that thought for just a moment.

I love hearing stories like yours. Not that any one should have to go through what you went through but that you learned from and overcame the negative behaviour that influenced you in your formative years. I think one of the main reasons I avoided body image issues is because not once in my entire childhood did I ever witness my mother say anything negative about herself, physically or otherwise. Seeing the people you look up to love themselves makes an enormous difference. Your daughter is very lucky.

That’s why I force myself to talk to little girls as follows.

Nicely written article with some great points. I try to mix it up big time with my daughter’s books. The Paperbag Princess, Princess Smarty Pants, The King’s Equal and Just Grace are a few that come to mind immediately. But we also read Pinkalicious………….I try to stay away from the canned pretty books as much as I can. It is an interesting tension and one of the reasons we do not own a TV. There is enough out there that is too focused on the pretty. One of the other commenters mentioned about loving her daughter’s unique outfits. I support my daughter’s individuality with that too. Trying for the strong individual with her own chutzpa.

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I don’t think it’s bad to compliment someone and make them feel good about themselves, it just shouldn’t be the only focus of attention. Ignoring the subject altogether can be just as detrimental to someone.. Just find a balance…. As long as everyone feels loved for being themselves that’s all that matters.

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I appreciate that your thoughts made me think as well–about both my past behaviors and my future behaviors. But something that I thought while reading the article is that I speak to little boys in the same way! I always tell them how cute they are, and how much I like their hair/eyes/clothes/way they talk. Would your point of view on this be that we shouldn’t approach any children this way? Or just girls?

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That is just one of the many ways adults reinforce stereo types and condescend to children. I recently stopped asking or guessing childrens ages. It just isnt important but we are always making it a subject of conversation. Adults certainly would feel uncomfortable talking about out age and its effects on health and development. Why do we do this with kids? I remember as a child how adults often exaggerate enthusiasm it just made me think they wernt being very real.