Tell Her She’s Pretty

{This photo is from a few years ago; one our “re-creations” ~ this time with Kathryn as Norman Rockwell’s “Girl at the Mirror.”}

Girl at the Mirror

Nearly every woman I’ve photographed says she hates having her picture made because she doesn’t like how she looks. It can be related to weight (too “skinny” or too “fat”), or a particular feature of their face, or broad shoulders or flabby arms or knobby knees or acne scars or any number of other things. My job is to make my clients feel beautiful during the session, then to prove it with the resulting photos. Occasionally, the opportunity has come up to talk about why she thinks this about herself. In some instances, it’s simply believing the ridiculousness of what so-called beauty is according to fashion magazines and Hollywood. Sometimes these insecurities stem from one thoughtless (or downright cruel) remark during childhood.

Dear Parent: your daughter need to hear you say she is pretty. Downright beautiful. That she takes your breath away.

And you need to mean it.

Help your daughter feel beautiful.

Maybe your daughter isn’t classically beautiful, or maybe she’s going through a chubby phase, or maybe she is having a tough spell with acne, or any number of other things. Regardless of all that, there is ALWAYS something you can find to genuinely compliment about her appearance.

Such as…

  • the way those tiny freckles are sprinkled across her nose
  • the twinkle of her eyes when she laughs
  • how the color of her shirt brings out the color of her eyes
  • the cool new way she fixed her hair
  • how much you love that funky hat with her outfit
  • how smooth/shiny/curly her hair is
  • the way her beautiful smile makes you smile

The point here is to help your daughter feel beautiful — just as she is. She probably is hearing more negative about her appearance from all the sources bombarding kids these days, so be generous with your compliments. Above all, be genuine, because she’ll know if you don’t really mean it.

Let me say, too, that it only takes one negative comment to stick with a girl the rest of her life.

Your daughter doesn’t need you to point out that she’s skinnier/plumper than other girls. She knows if she has a pimple (or ten) on her face. If she asks for help or advice on how to deal with these things, then by all means do so, but please don’t point these things out.

Extra encouragement for the Daddies:

You, Dad, are the first important man in your daughter’s life. She looks up to you, especially when she is little. She wants to hear you say she’s pretty. If she doesn’t hear you say it, she’ll eventually go in search of some boy who will — even if he’s saying it for all the wrong reasons. So much of a girl’s confidence is caught up in her appearance; that doesn’t mean she’s over-concerned about beauty. What it means is that if she feels comfortable with how she looks, she can concentrate on other things.

While you’re at it, men, compliment your wives, too. Let your daughters (and sons!) hear you do so. Even women who feel pretty in their twenties may have trouble feeling the same way once those tiny lines and silver hairs start showing up. Those beautiful children she gave you changed her body, too; let her know she is even more beautiful to you now than she was the day you met her.

Please chime in!

Please know that I’m not trying to over-emphasize beauty. We should be encouraging our children and praising their character and talent and accomplishments, even more than we focus on appearance. But the reality is it’s something we all deal with every time we look in the mirror.

I’d love your input:

What additional advice and/or thoughts do you have to add?

What comments or experiences as a child shaped the way you see yourself today?

What struggles has your daughter faced in regards to being comfortable in her own skin, and at what age?