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Amitié Lane

  /  Raising Empowered Girls   /  Rethinking Praise: Should We Call Girls “Pretty”?
Rethinking Praise Should We Call Girls Pretty

Rethinking Praise: Should We Call Girls “Pretty”?

In a world that often prioritizes appearance over substance, the way we compliment and encourage our children, especially girls, can have profound implications. One of the most common compliments girls receive is about their looks – being called “pretty,” “beautiful,” or “cute.” While these comments are typically well-intentioned, it’s worth considering their impact and whether we should rethink this approach.

The Impact of Appearance-Focused Praise

Shaping Self-Perception

When girls are frequently praised for their appearance, it can lead to the internalization that their value is predominantly tied to how they look. This can overshadow other aspects of their identity, such as their intelligence, creativity, or strength.

Influencing Priorities

Consistent focus on appearance can also shape a girl’s priorities. It might lead her to believe that maintaining a certain look is crucial for acceptance and success, potentially leading to issues like body image concerns or an unhealthy preoccupation with appearance.

Limiting Expression

Appearance-based compliments can also subtly discourage girls from activities that might “mess up” their appearance, indirectly implying that looking neat and pretty is more important than exploring, learning, or playing.

Alternatives to Appearance-Based Praise

Complimenting Character and Abilities

Focus on attributes like kindness, bravery, creativity, intelligence, or perseverance. For example, “I love how you solved that problem!” or “Your kindness to your friends is wonderful to see.”

Encouraging Interests and Skills

Praise efforts and achievements in various areas, whether it’s sports, academics, arts, or other hobbies. Highlighting their efforts and improvements in these areas reinforces the value of hard work and dedication.

Acknowledging Emotions and Thoughts

Compliment girls on their thoughts and ideas. Phrases like “Your idea was really innovative!” or “I appreciate your perspective on this,” validate their intellectual contributions.

Promoting a Healthy Self-Image

It’s not about entirely avoiding comments on appearance, but rather not making it the focus. Balance is key. It’s okay to tell a child they look nice, but it should be just one aspect of how we compliment them.

The Role of Parents and Educators

Parents and educators play a crucial role in shaping a child’s self-esteem and self-image. By consciously shifting the focus of our praise, we can help girls develop a more well-rounded self-perception. It’s about reinforcing the idea that they are valued for who they are, not just how they look.

So, where does this leave us?

Calling a girl “pretty” is not inherently harmful, but it shouldn’t be the predominant form of praise she hears. It’s about creating a balance and ensuring that girls understand their worth extends far beyond their physical appearance. By focusing on a range of qualities and achievements, we can help girls develop a healthier, more confident self-image that celebrates all aspects of who they are. This shift in how we offer praise can be a small but significant step towards empowering young girls to see themselves as multifaceted, capable, and valued for their unique contributions to the world.