I recently heard someone suggest that we shouldn’t call little girls pretty because it perpetuates a problem where little girls see their own worth based solely on their waist line. As a dad, I do appreciate the desire for my daughter to learn the value of both brains and beauty, but I also couldn’t help but wonder, “Is me calling my daughter ‘pretty girl’ really the problem?"
If as she gets older, I only tell her how intelligent she is, we don’t really solve any problems.
The worst thing that we can do for our daughters is teach them to find their worth outside of their relationship with Christ. I want my daughter first of all to know her worth as a child of God and want that worth to be imitated in every interaction she has a my own child.
All other compliments I give her are just that, compliments. But they will hopefully not become our identity.
Beauty is great, but it’s a lousy identity for little girls.
No matter how stunning your daughter’s beauty is, it won’t be a solid foundation to rest her identity. Take it from the model Cameron Russell when she talks about her own insecurities:
"The thing that we never say on camera, that I have never said on camera, is, "I am insecure." And I'm insecure because I have to think about what I look like every day. And if you ever are wondering, "If I have thinner thighs and shinier hair, will I be happier?" you just need to meet a group of models, because they have the thinnest thighs and the shiniest hair and the coolest clothes, and they're the most physically insecure women probably on the planet.” - Cameron Russell, TED
Being smart is important, but it’s a terrible place for young girls to find their sense of worth. Leadership is a great trait for little girls to have, but it’s a lousy identity. The young girl that has dreams of being a Fortune 500 CEO might be important and even progressive, but it is still a terrible identity. And likewise, having the body of a super-model on the cover of a magazine is both unrealistic and a dangerous place to find your worth.
"For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." - Galatians 3:27-28
So should we call our little girls pretty?
And we should compliment them in every way imaginable.
But we should also help them to see their sense of worth not from their accomplishments, looks, or success. Instead we should help them understand their identity that comes from the what Christ has done for them and what he has made them, His child. And we should help them understand that just as we love them simply because they are our children and not because of what they have to offer to the world, so also God loves them simply because they are His children.