More than just a pretty face

October 18th, 2011

I read a pretty mind-blowing article today on Huffington Post.  It was called How to Talk to Little Girls.  The upshot of it is that the first words out of our mouths when we (as in “society as a whole”) talk to little girls is to talk about their looks.  “Oh, aren’t you pretty,” we gush.  And the article begs the question: is it any wonder that our girls grow up to be hyper-conscious of their looks in all kinds of unhealthy ways when, from the time they can toddle, we send them the implicit message that their key attribute is their looks?

Wow.  Guilty as charged.  I mean, it’s hard not to gush over something as shockingly adorable as a three-year-old with gigantic brown eyes, long lashes, and enough sparkle to power a small city.

But it got me thinking about other ways that I send Miss Mouse that same message.  Like with her growing love for Disney Princesses.  Just this week I got her a deck of Go Fish cards adorned with the lovely ladies.  And what do I usually say when she holds one up for inspection?  “Oh, isn’t she beautiful?”  Every time.

So this afternoon I made a concerted effort to change the paradigm.  Today, we talked about Hobbies of the Princesses.  It took a bit of creative thinking because honestly, those girls don’t always have a whole lot of depth to them, but we came up with the following list:

Ariel — likes to sing and swim (obviously!)
Belle — likes to read (you remember that opening sequence, right?)
Cinderella — likes to sew (enchanted spinning wheel…a bit of a stretch)

Sleeping Beauty — enjoys spending time outside with woodland creatures

Jasmine — loves animals, like her pet tiger
Mulan — is a warrior and is very brave

Not too shabby.  Miss Mouse was absolutely captivated by this exercise and we spent a lot of time talking about the likes and dislikes of our pack of princesses.  We talked about what Belle’s favorite books are and what Miss Mouse’s are.  We talked about our favorite animals.  We talked about how fun it is to walk around outside barefoot like Sleeping Beauty does.

Not once did we discuss the physical splendor of the princesses.  It’s a small step, but it felt really good!

3 responses to “More than just a pretty face”

  1. Isa says:

    Jasmine also likes adventure/to travel. She and Belle were always the best, because they so clearly weren't idiots or just waiting for the right guy to come along. Maybe you can choose good careers for them next? You know, Belle would be a librarian, Sleeping Beauty (bad name, that) would be a zoologist, etc

  2. Pomegranate says:

    Love this. I have tried avoiding telling friends' children they are pretty/handsome/beautiful/etc. Now that we have our own child, it's so hard to build the habit of emphasizing characteristics over looks. Even as simple as changing phrasing from "you're so handsome" to "i love it when you smile at me." We're working on it, though, so maybe by the time he's able to understand words…

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