Quite a while ago now, Lisa Bloom, blogger for the Huffington Post, wrote a piece outlining why we need to stop focusing on appearance in little girls. She made a lot of good points, and it gave me a lot to think about.
“ABC News reported that nearly half of all three- to six-year-old girls worry about being fat.
“15 to 18 percent of girls under 12 now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly; eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down; and 25 percent of young American women would rather win America’s Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize.”
I thought about these statistics, and I decided that I am not part of the problem, but part of the solution.
Bloom then stretches those statistics and comes up with this: “Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23.”
I don’t agree with this. I don’t think that complimenting a little girl on her looks chips away at her self-esteem. I cannot see how simply telling a girl she’s pretty somehow translates into telling her she’s not pretty enough. The problem, as I see it, isn’t that parents or family or even strangers are remarking on physical attributes positively. The problem is beyond that. It’s entrenched in a society that shows women with botox and boob jobs as prettier than the average girl. It’s in the magazine spreads and celebrated celebrity lifestyles. It’s in the television, as reality stars spend hours in the bathroom to get themselves ready for the next random hookup. It’s not us. If anything, I think, our daughters need us to tell them they are pretty more now than ever.