Sort of OT: Should We Tell Little Girls They’re Beautiful?

I came across this article while I was catching up on my Richard Armitage interviews for The Desolation of Smaug from earlier in the month. It made me think, so I thought I’d share it here to see what your thoughts are. I had a kind of schizo experience as a kid – I got a message at home that I was fat and lazy, but from strangers I always heard about how beautiful I was. I know I had a pretty face when I was younger, but I never felt beautiful. So my insides didn’t match my outside. I feel sometimes that Richard Armitage feels that way – that he doesn’t feel like he’s some sex god, but that’s what we all keep telling him! LOL! What do you think?

Op-Ed: Please don’t tell my daughter she’s beautiful

BY CLAIRE BELLEFEUILLE, OTTAWA CITIZENDECEMBER 11, 2013

I’m dreading Christmas, and it’s not because of my inability to stay away from the canapés at holiday functions.

I love the decorations around the city, being in close quarters with family, and I don’t even mind the crowded malls or steady stream of Christmas music that seems to start earlier every year. No, I’m dreading Christmas because it means ample opportunity for friends and strangers alike to generously, but unfortunately, exclaim over how adorable my daughter looks in her fancy holiday attire.

I understand that telling my three-year-old she’s beautiful, pretty or cute may seem like a harmless, well-intentioned compliment, and believe me, we indulge in the sentiment ourselves. Like many proud parents, we find it hard to resist the urge to praise our “beautiful princess” or “handsome little man.” We are culturally — and maybe even biologically — conditioned to appreciate, and reward physical attractiveness.

But ever since she was born, she has been constantly showered with remarks about her appearance. Evidently, blond and blue-eyed with a Japanese-Greek-Irish-English-French heritage makes for a striking combination. In addition to the expected comments from family and friends, we are regularly stopped on the street, in the grocery store and out running errands by strangers praising her looks. The owner of our local Shawarma joint sends over an extra plate of free chicken for the “little beauty,” she’s often given extra treats from shop owners or vendors that are offered along with a compliment, and when we accidentally left her passport on a flight from Hawaii to Vancouver, we entered the country with no problems, breezing by the customs agent with only a birth certificate and a “she’s gorgeous.”

Being first-time parents, we didn’t think much of this — of course we think she’s beautiful, she’s ours! So why would we object to others expressing appreciation for this magnificent being we managed to create?

The problem is that receiving constant accolades about her physical appearance gives my daughter the impression that her value is predicated on how she looks. Three years in, we’re starting to see signs of the toll it’s taking. During a struggle to get her to replace the dresses she’d worn all summer with a pair of jeans when the weather turned cooler, she exclaimed “I can’t wear these, Mama; no one will say I’m cute!” She insists on girlie clothes every day, won’t wear green because it’s a “boy colour” and doesn’t like to mess up her hair by putting on a winter hat. She’s barely out of diapers.

The alarm I feel is well-founded. A growing body of research shows that when young girls become too focused on their appearance, it disrupts their mental capacity, increases their likelihood of developing eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. But this isn’t my only concern. Insisting on wearing pretty dresses, and not wanting mess up her hair means she’s less likely to engage in physical play and athletics that will keep her healthy. Studies have shown that by the time girls reach adolescence, their participation in sports declines by as much as 23 per cent (more than double than that of boys). And she’s still 10 years away from that milestone. I’m not denying that projecting a positive physical image has its place. I wear professional attire for work, and enjoy getting dressed up to attend events. Being able to look in the mirror and like what you see plays a big role in self-confidence and the way you present yourself to the world. Of course I want my daughter to see herself as beautiful.

But I also want her to know that her physical appearance is only a small part of her value. Her kindness, intelligence and incredible sense of humour are all equally important aspects of who she is. I want her to grow up understanding that being a loyal friend and loving sister and daughter are worth more than a compliment from a stranger. That if something were to happen to change how she looks, she would still be worthy of all the love she has now.

So here’s my Christmas wish: over the holidays, when the young people you know are dressed in their finery, and the standard superficial compliment is what first comes to mind, take a minute and consider how else you might share your affection. Tell a child or a teen how much you appreciate their thoughtfulness or generosity, instead. In the spirit of the season, give them a reason to glow from the inside out.

Claire Bellefeuille is a mother of three and the project manager of Informed Opinions, an initiative that promotes the inclusion of more positive female role models in the media.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
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Richard Armitage: Sex God (from Tumblr)
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39 Responses to Sort of OT: Should We Tell Little Girls They’re Beautiful?

  1. As a society we value beauty over so many other things. We celebrate beauty in everything. It’s like a Fast Pass to life itself. Growing up, I was never called beautiful. I was always compared to cousins who were all beautiful and smarter than me. Someone once said to me that “You’re not beautiful, so you better work on other traits.” Which I did, because in some ways I felt I had no choice.

    I think with beauty comes self-confidence, and with self-confidence so many doors open to you. Beauty is just the first thing people see, and afterwards, one better hope they have way more than just beauty to get them through life. I tell my little boy all the time how handsome and gorgeous he is. But I also try to instill in him the value of being kind, generous and compassionate to balance the outer beauty with the inner beauty.

    In regards to Richard Armitage being called a ‘sex god,’ to me it’s a demeaning term and one that primarily focuses only on the ideal of physical beauty, virility and nothing else. And that’s a load of expectations to heap on anyone.

    Rita Hayworth said,” Every man I have ever known has fallen in love with Gilda and awakened with me.” Who do we really see when we see Richard Armitage? Is it Thornton, Thorin, Porter, Standring – or Richard Armitage the movie star, the sex god? Or do we see Richard Armitage, the man who continues to write holiday messages to his fans and who extols the virtues of giving, who said in his last message that, ” I am happiest when I can be useful, which usually involves giving time and effort towards something. That gives me peace.”

    • Marie Astra says:

      Yes, I totally agree.

      But the point of the post was that giving messages to a child influences the way they think about themselves all their life. The author of the article is reminding us that we should think before we value someone’s beauty over their other qualities. It is such a default position. Just remembering to express value for other qualities than being “pretty” or “sexy” is important.

      I think most fans admire RA’s beauty. Some of us have access to know his other qualities. How many people really saw his message? How many really pay attention to something other than a pretty picture. If he wasn’t pretty would anyone care about his messages?

      • I don’t “pretty” was what got me to seek more information about RA more than the intensity and power of his acting in north and south, and the impact of a tenderly executed train scene between two people. Pretty to me is a model on a runway, a shell. We don’t have any other opportunity to see beyond the physical before they walk off the runway and out of our mind’s focus.

        I did get what the author of the op- Ed was trying to say. Unfortunately it is a default for most to see beauty first before seeing anything else, and it was a good reminder to see and praise traits past the physical, especially for young children.

  2. kelbel75 says:

    while I understand this parents concern (I deal with it too w/my own daughter), it’s her job as a parent to instill those desired values in her daughter. it may feel like a constant battle when so many other people are inadvertently reenforcing the value of beauty, but the compliments are well-meaning.
    I was never told I was beautiful; my female cousins were all small and petite and they were constantly told how cute they were and picked up for piggy-back rides,etc. while I just stood there being tall and awkward 😕 I get told *now* that I was a cute child, when people remark how much my daughter looks like me, but it sure would have been nice to hear that then 😉
    asking strangers to do your job for you is not the way I would personally combat this issue 😐

    • Marie Astra says:

      I don’t think she’s asking strangers to do her job. I think she’s just reminding us to focus on something other than beauty in children.

      • kelbel75 says:

        but you can’t claim that getting numerous comments about being beautiful will negatively condition your child and then say tell her she’s smart, special, etc. instead, without those things falling under the same conditioning argument, can you? so then it comes down to “just don’t give her any compliments at all” which, as our lack of being told beautiful can attest to, isn’t good either 😦
        I’m constantly battling “the world” everyday in these regards; it’s just part of raising a person *shrugs*

      • Marie Astra says:

        It’s very interesting. To me this article speak directly to the dangers of focusing on beauty as someone’s best attribute. The author of this article seems to clearly make the case that “the world” gives undeserved privelege to beauty, which is not right. So we should keep in mind that beauty is ephemeral and not what we should solely appreciate.

      • Servetus says:

        OK — but didn’t you know that already? Doesn’t everyone know that? Is there any new message there?

        It’s a bit like reading yet another piece at Christmastime about how we should take care for the less fortunate. Yes, of course we should. Please don’t preach at me about it.

      • Marie Astra says:

        OKAY bye you don’t have to comment on this article. It speaks to me.

      • Servetus says:

        Then please consider writing that I should only comment on this post to agree with you. I’ll keep that in mind in future.

      • Marie Astra says:

        I didn’t mean that at all! Of course you can express your opinion! And disagree!! It’s just that I feel there’s no acknowledgement that of my opinion, so it makes me feel bad.

      • Servetus says:

        I’m sorry that I made you feel bad.

      • Marie Astra says:

        I know you didn’t mean to. The article irritated you. I get it. Like everything, your mileage may vary. I guess I that what the author of this article expresses hit me in a way that it doesn’t others. I get it. I really do appreciate your comments!!

      • Servetus says:

        The other thing she doesn’t mention in this article is that depending on the kind of beauty her daughter develops as an adult and what she chooses to do as an adult, all her life it is likely that some people will take her less seriously because she’s beautiful. Like the comments people make about how they hope Armitage doesn’t show up with a gorgeous starlet on his arm; if he did they wouldn’t respect him. Every “pass” you get or don’t get also goes in the other direction.

      • Marie Astra says:

        I think that is what she is saying. If her daughter grows to value her beauty over other aspects of her personality it is likely that when others take her less seriously if she isn’t grounded she won’t be able to handle it appropriately.

      • Servetus says:

        but as Kelbel says, that can happen with anything. It has happened to a ton of smart people I know too over their intelligence. it just depends on the environment you’re in.

      • Marie Astra says:

        Yes. It’s true. I guess I”m just not that smart! LOL! I resonated to the empty “You’re so pretty” aspect of the article!! LOL

  3. Servetus says:

    I agree with Kelbel75. Some kids would benefit from hearing this message more, others less, and the parents are the only ones who know. These “let’s make a general rule” articles sort of tire me out because the context for speech is different in every single case. The only general conclusions I might draw from reading this is that I should avoid making personal comments to strangers — which is probably a good general etiquette rule, anyway.

    • Marie Astra says:

      Yes, sounds good to me. Don’t make comments to strangers. ;p

    • Marie Astra says:

      Gee, I don’t understand the resistance to the idea that we focus too much on beauty and not enough on other aspects of children. I mean, don’t say anything if all you can do is say Oh you’re so pretty. If you don’t know the child maybe you shouldn’t say anything.

      • Servetus says:

        Part of the problem is the tone of the original article — it got my hackles up from the second sentence. OK, you have a beautiful daughter. We get it. Must be rough to live with all that beauty all the time. Watch out when she’s 16, katy bar the door. People who complain about privilege tend to be a fatiguing read.

        The other problem is that even if I believed her, doing as she says doesn’t solve any actual problem, insofar as that is *already* happening. Those of us who were not beautiful children got compliments for other things. It’s not like “you’re beautiful” is the only compliment anyone ever gives a kid.” The fact that children are praised for other things doesn’t change the cultural standard that beauty is important. If you tell your kid “you’re smart” or “you’re thoughtful” or whatever, instead of saying “you’re beautiful,” that doesn’t make beauty any less important. In my case, “well, you ARE smart” was the consolation prize for the unvoiced “but you’re not beautiful.” I could tell every child I know non-stop that s/he is friendly, helpful, thoughtful, generous … etc. and it wouldn’t change anything.

        Finally, the article implies that beauty and other things (generosity, etc.) are dichotomies. It’s a false dilemma that leads us in the wrong direction rhetorically. Love beauty / don’t love beauty leads someone to ask, why shouldn’t we love beauty? It produces exactly the opposite reaction in many readers that the author is aiming at (demonstrated by our reactions to it).

      • Marie Astra says:

        OK. Thanks for your comment. I agree that whatever we might do might not change society’s focus on beauty.

        I guess my connection to this is that I think I’ve gotten a free pass many times because I have/had a pretty face. It’s a REAL issue to me. If you haven’t been in that position, I guess you can’t relate.

        I feel for this mom, because, while you want your child to be liked, seeing the societal focus on beauty and it’s effect on your child, is disturbing.

      • Servetus says:

        I get a free pass for a lot of things, so don’t worry about my lack of ability to relate 🙂 I get a free pass in a lot of situations for being smart, for being highly educated (secretaries intervene to do my work because they assume I’m absentminded), for being white in the US — that is a huge one –; and for being relatively affluent or appearing that way because I have good manners and lots of cultural capital. I’m not suffering because I’m not DDG. 🙂 Probably most of us get a free pass somewhere in their lives.

        The people whom we should be worried about are not the beautiful, but those who never get a free pass. As bothered as she is by her child’s beauty, her child gets just as much privilege for those other things (affluent parents, etc.)

      • There’s so much more to this statement than meets the eye, and my experience with children has always been, if I compliment a child, I don’t do it just to do it. We all want to be praised, and as long as it’s not empty praise, we all benefit from it.

        I grew up in a family that did not heap praises easily. Sometimes hardly at all. That’s because my mom was never praised for her beauty. In fact she was called a horse-face by her own mother, while her sister was as beautiful as a doll. I’ve seen the effects it’s had on both sisters. While the oft-praised sister is over-confident and often greedy and feels more deserving of everything that comes her way, my mother is the opposite. She suffered from the lack of praise for her beauty (which my grandmother did not see when compared to the one she considered beautiful) and she still does. When she needed praise as a child, she didn’t get it and it hurts me to see her without the self-confidence she needs to this day, and one that even she admits is because her parents never praised her at all.

        While everyone’s reactions to praise is subjective, I believe it starts in the home, and not one that should be expected of other people to do, whether it’s for beauty, generosity, compassion or intelligence. To withhold praise simply because I don’t know a child and for fear that my words may instill something false in them should I say something is denying me my wish to pass on something that’s meant well, and also denying the child something that could help him or her gain more self-confidence or just feel good about themselves. It’s not my place to determine whether one kid has received too much praise over his or her beauty over someone else, or to simply not say anything at all.

        I am sorry that I have a different view as yours, and I’m hoping that this isn’t taken as an attack over your agreement over the referred op-ed. Honestly, I wish my mother had this woman’s problem but given that my mother didn’t, I’ve had to make do without any praise over my beauty but I’m glad that even without it, I think I’ve managed just fine. But this hasn’t stopped me from complimenting a child because I know just how it would have made my mother and I feel had someone praised me for the same thing.

  4. kelbel75 says:

    we shouldn’t solely appreciate beauty, yes, and *that* is what she should be reenforcing in her child. and if we are in close contact with a child who is not our own on a regular basis, then that is what we ourselves should try to impress upon them as well.
    but saying that well-meaning compliments are a detriment to your child and would you please stop, irritates me; it seems an attack on manners, that we should do away with compliments. the compliments i get from people who don’t know me well mean far more to me than the ones that come from my loved ones; so if we make a general rule to just stop giving compliments, I find that remarkably sad 😦

  5. kelbel75 says:

    Marie, I don’t feel we are being overly difficult in our responses, we just don’t happen to agree with you, that’s all. that doesn’t mean we are right or you are right; just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is it’s reaction to it 🙂
    I happen to battle both the beauty and the smart compliment in regards to my daughter, and the “smart” one irritates me just as much as the “beauty” one irritates this author. my daughter is so wrapped up in her grades that she thinks it’s the end of the world when she get a “b” AND she worries about her looks as well b/c she’s not as tall and skinny as a lot of her friends; that’s when it’s my job to reenforce in her on a daily basis that she is beautiful, and having the best grades isn’t what’s most important, and that being empathetic to other’s struggles will make getting along with them easier, etc.
    I’m not opposing the negative impact celebrating beauty has on our society, just this mother’s placing of blame on innocent meaning compliments 😕

    • Marie Astra says:

      Different strokes for different folks. I DO get that you don’t agree with the author of the article (NOT ME). I found things in what this author says that resounded with me. It didn’t with you. That’s fine. You have other experiences than I. I don’t mind. Sorry if I came across differently. You are certainly, ABSOLUTELY welcome to express opinions different from mine!! Love you!!

      • kelbel75 says:

        *grr* site just ate my post! anyways…I understand, you were expecting to discuss it from one point of view and we just so happen to be coming at it from the opposite one 😉 sometimes I’ll get all up in arms about something and tell my husband, only to find out that he disagrees, “WTF? how can you possibly feel that way? I thought I knew you!” 😆
        just wait a bit, I’m sure others will comment too and some of them will be seeing it like you do 🙂

      • Marie Astra says:

        It’s ok, really!! Sometimes you just see things from your pov and others are like, whot?! I am glad for anyone who comments!!

  6. Apologies in advance, but this will be long. Hope you won’t regret “approving” it. 🙂

    I had never seen images of Richard prior to seeing North & South. I was “struck” by what I saw of the man standing at the top of the stairs in the mill, and in pretty much the same way that Margaret did. Thereafter I was struck continuously with every image of him from then on, regardless of whether he was in motion or not. But I was also captured by the voice and intellect, which I gathered both from his performances and his interviews. Attractive to me is a collection of things, not just an image. But later, pretty and beautiful would come to mind – and often.

    From experience, the use of certain terms might make a person uncomfortable, especially if they have never heard it used about them much before. Growing up I think I heard lovely things from my family, for the most part. But once I became school aged, I often heard the ugly. Often. Kids can be cruel – and for various reasons. Sometimes reactions are just innocent comments to obvious differences between people.The very young often do not have filters set up yet governed by taught etiquette to do no harm. But once the damage is done, the return reaction is negative.The result can because even more vicious comments from the offender, especially as we get older and up to our teens. And puberty seems to deepen the effects of the comments as well.

    Such was the case with me. And I retaliated, and sometimes in like mean or volume. So the result was that I received more of the same – and for the oddest or completely unwarranted things too. I am freckled, so there was that. Later, it was the hair – which might have had more to do with envy maybe at the time, but that would not become apparent until later. My hair is (was) an auburn red, so somehow it became to subject of attack. (“Red-headed cherry bomb.” No really, I am not kidding…that was intended as an insult. Sounds more like Jessica Rabbit, doesn’t it?) But my strongest physical attributes, I later realized, were actually the things that made me different to the point of great attraction from the opposite sex. (And uncomfortably so, sometimes.)

    But to come to a better point – In my preteen and teens, I was more apt to believe the insults from my peers quicker than the praise from those who loved me. I still suffer from this a bit. And I fear that I am not alone in this.

    So knowing what I do about myself, chances are Richard might have had a similar reaction (been a similar victim), in regards to his divine differences, to the point where he may be more apt to believe the negative said by peers (reviewers, critics, those close who might advise as to what “Hollywood” wants, etc.) and possibly still not so much the lovely comments from those close to him who love him, much less from the sheer volume of admiration and amorousness of his fanbase. Richard’s nose comes to mind – one of the very things in his visage that makes him uniquely and immensely attractive. And it may have been one of the things that was subject of childhood viciousness. I feel that he should be laughing all the way to the bank at any jokes that may have hit home. I really hope he is.

    But back to the article and what it might have been making a point of – I both agree and disagree, and for some of the reasons I mention above. I think the focus on using “beautiful” and “pretty” solely, and without remotely focusing on a child’s intellect, blossoming personality development, or learned skills, might be damaging. However, saying lovely things in general still might help to counteract other negative things or comments going on in their lives – things we (as adults) may never even be aware of. I don’t have children. But when I talk to other people’s children, I make a point of talking them as people, and not really as children. So there is no cooing or baby talk, and I focus on the nearest thing that seems to be within “their” focus. So, if a little girl is wearing a pink tutu or her princess costume from Halloween – even when it is Christmas – I am going to tell her what a pretty ballerina/princess/mermaid she is and take the conversation from there. (And…I would do the same if a little boy was wearing the same.) But if a child is holding a camera, a building block, their homework, a book, a sword, a wizards wand, a toy of any kind, or whatever they come to me with what they have, then that will be the focus and not their physical appearance.

    The article and children aside, and a complete change of subject here and return the previous paragraphs, I will continue to feel free to say publicly all the things I feel about Richard – both physically and intellectually – as often as I do feel them, and will continue do so regardless of how he receives the compliments personally. But words like “sex god” have never occurred to me to use, and this is simply because the term has always sounded just so damn silly to me in general. However words like “incredibly sexy to both look at and listen to” certainly have, and do still.

    The term “sex god’ seems to be a term only the media use, and I think it is because it is quick and has a bit of controversy attached to it. I have never had any real life conversation with anyone where that term was natural in someone’s vocabulary or speech. Never.

    Thank you Marie. I truly hope you are not sorry that I commented. 🙂

  7. Perry says:

    I think the mother’s concerns, that her little girl would put too high an importance on her looks and what others think of them, is a legitimate concern, but I agree with Kelbel and Servetus that it’s the parents’ responsibility to teach their children about self-worth, not that of strangers. IMO, I think what children hear about themselves from their family has more of an impact than what strangers say. It’s their parents’ approval they want, when growing up – not that of strangers on the street, so parents can make the most impact in helping develop a balanced self-image and turning them around to value other qualities, like curiosity, intelligence and kindness. If one needs any proof of the damage to self-image parents can do to girls by focusing on their beauty, spend an hour watching Toddlers and Tiaras. I think the mother’s fears are unfounded that her daughter won’t want to participate in activities that mess up how she looks or what she’s wearing. I don’t know how old the girl is, but I imagine she will want to do what her friends do when she gets to that age. I’m reminded of a few Christmases ago when I was talking to my niece about what to send her daughter for Christmas, and she said, ” We try to keep away from Disney princesses.” I mulled that over for a while ( didn’t question her further). The later crop of Disney princesses are kick-ass females and most of them only have one outfit.
    BTW, the writer mentions getting free chicken at the local”schwarma” place. For those of you who;ve never had a schwarma sandwhich, you don’t know what you’re missing.

    • kelbel75 says:

      I never received compliments at home or from close family members so that’s why the strangers perspective means more to me; they have nothing to lose/gain from saying it, so it must be true 😕 I wish this wasn’t the case b/c it conditioned me to value those opinions more than the ones I do get from my loved ones now, as an adult. which is why I’m always full of compliments for my kids (ones I feel are true, not empty ones 😉 ) and I’m very touchy-feely w/them too, constantly giving them hugs and kisses for no reason 🙂 one of our favorite books when they were young was “no matter what” by Debi Gliori, which is about a little fox that keeps coming up with every silly scenario he can think of and asking “will you still love me if…” to his mother. and we still quote that book to each other sometimes, when they need the reassurance that my love is unconditional 😎

      • Perry says:

        Not everyone is good at giving compliments ( though it’s harder to receive them, I think). But your description of how you make your children feel, and the demonstrated affection you give them, sounds so right.

  8. Wow, what an article. Coming from my perspective, I get noticed all the time for being black. In the past it was not always in a positive light, but over the past few years, all of a sudden, my very dark skin is causing many white people to see me as beautiful. I get loads of compliments about how my complexion is vibrant and goes well with the colors I love to wear. It doesn’t get me a pass for anything though. Being white with blond hair and blue eyes still seems to be the highest measure for being beautiful and getting a pass for many things. This narrow standard of beauty has wrecked havoc within the black community for decades, which is a subject too profound for this blog. I would even say it has wrecked havoc with white women because some shade of blond is still the biggest seller in hair coloring. This narrow standard of beauty will get you a job and very high salary that you don’t always deserve. I have seen that quite often as a payroll administrator within the corporate world. You also tend to get raises that are much bigger than everyone else who worked harder and better than you did.

    I do get respect from people because I am smart, well mannered, well read, speak English properly, set high values for myself, never took drugs, involve myself in cultural events, have artistic and creative talents, and I live in a 15 room mansion of a house. Sometimes I will get passes because of these things, but not usually. I am guaranteed the respect though, and people are happy that I live in their neighborhood.

    • I think it is interesting that you have spoken about this, Xenia. I have read your blog for a while now – a year actually. Once or twice I thought of commenting, but before I had a WP blog, I encountered some technical issue in a comment reply. I never tried again, which I should have, but that is my loss mostly.

      But, ironically, many, many times when I have come to your blog and seen your picture, I thought the very thing you have mentioned – at least for the most part. Maybe it is in part due to the color of your skin, and maybe not – but just in your picture alone there really is a striking vibrancy about you. You really are beautiful. But so is your blog, which is all around you. (And you’re beautiful house!) But the vibrancy is also mirrored in how your blog is styled, and then again in your words. So there is that. But being that I am someone who has never met you, but only knows what she has seen in an image or two (you were also a really gorgeous child as well), I can only honestly say that what I say I feel is in earnest.

      The rest of the planet (at least the western part) and its response is another matter. I think I have been on the receiving end of such judgment, and to where I have not been properly compensated because I am female. But then I have never had any real access to salary information to validate that another person who either looked a certain way, or was male, was compensated more or less than I have been, really. I understand that this does happen, but all I can do is judge on how I have been treated from what I know of myself and my own situations.

      I don’t know what it takes to actually change how we (as a culture) perceive the beauty of others, or how to insure that none of that gets passed on through generations so that it no longer enters into consideration when someone who is skill-appropriate is applying for a job or a raise. A start, I think, might be open discussions like these. I also personally make the choice to not buy beauty or gossip magazines, to change the channel when I see portrayals of what might be considered “traditionally” female-beautiful in TV ads (blond, blue-eyed, straight-haired, emaciated), and to not have long casual conversations with people over their daily beauty regimens. I do this not only for the preservation of my own self-esteem, but because I find it vapid. I think if people were to stop pandering to the machine that fuels these ideals also, it might help over time. Maybe.

  9. Marie Astra says:

    Wow, this was a fabulous pre-Christmas present to me! A bunch of my favorite bloggers commenting on my blog! I thank you all so much for your thoughtful and honest reactions to this article. I realize I was only looking at a small part of the article and there is a lot more to the topic.

    For the record, I totally agree that it is the parents’ job to know their child and ensure that the child gets the feedback he/she needs. I totally believe in unconditional love, but that doesn’t mean everything the kid does is perfect and fabulous. Each kid is different. Each has his/her own strengths and weaknesses. Strangers don’t know those, but the parent should.

    Re Richard Armitage, I don’t think of him as a “sex god”! I meant it ironically – it’s the way the journalists try to spin the Armitage Army to him and he is always trying to deflect that view.

    Again, thank you all for your comments. I value your opinions. Even when they are different from mine, which in this case they really aren’t.

    • kelbel75 says:

      you bring up another good point though, don’t drown the children in false praise either 😉 that is a big pet-peeve of mine and it kind of goes hand in hand with well-meaning compliments coming from outside the home; it’s great for parents to try and find those things in their children to praise but don’t praise them unnecessarily b/c then they’re going to be all shocked when they get to school and it ends up they’re not actually a genius, or a beauty queen, or can sing well enough to win American Idol… 😛
      as far as Richard goes, I did not think he was drop dead gorgeous when I first saw pics of him 😯 I really liked his eyes and there was an unspoken charisma about him that drew me in, but I didn’t faint at the sight of him. when I take away who he is and just look at the physical, I still pretty much feel the same way. it’s his character and his heart that make the whole look extremely attractive to me 😎

      • Marie Astra says:

        There’s something oh-so-sexy about Richard, even if he isn’t drop dead gorgeous. I felt it even through the Thorin costume and even as Mr. No-One-Loves-Me- But-You-Mom Thornton. 😀

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