Monday, August 01, 2005

Pretty Pretty Princesses
I generally don't tell little girls they are pretty. Oh, they are pretty, don't get me wrong. Beautiful, actually. But I don't tell 'em.

Girls tend to put a lot of faith in being pretty. Pretty is popular. Pretty is desired. Pretty gets attention. Pretty is fun. Pretty gets you places.

Pretty fades.

And that's the problem. Being pretty is an asset to be sure. However, if your identity is tied up in your appearance, what do you do when it is gone?

You buy creams, you buy colors, you buy clothes. You obsess. And if it all doesn't work? You see a therapist. You take antidepressants. You hide. If pretty is who you were, who are you when you're not pretty?
What do you do when the compliments cease? When the annoying whistles and cat calls are gone, where do you get your attention? You look in the mirror and see and aging woman. Who is she? It becomes a crisis of sorts.

So, when I see the pretty little girls, I try to find more enduring assets to praise. Wise decisions, intelligence, kindness, generosity. Imagine basing your self concept on these virtues! I know when I was a little girl I was often praised for my appearance. It was a motivator. The next time I would be seeing that person, I took special care to look good for them so they would praise me again. I still find myself doing the same thing - and it extends to my home and belongings. Have you ever purchased something and thought, "Oh, how they'll like this!" For me, it is a constant struggle against vanity.

Consider what you say to others and how it may motivate them in a certain direction. If you tell a child you were impressed with his generosity, he can do something with that. If you tell him you're impressed with his hairstyle, he can do something with that, too. You have more power than you think.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are not only pretty, but pretty smart too!

Aunt Carol

11:12 AM, August 01, 2005  
Blogger Jan said...

Aunt Carol is one of those powerful motivators in my life. Thank you, Aunt Carol. You brought tears to my eyes.

11:22 AM, August 01, 2005  
Blogger babyivanov said...

I often find myself wishing that I lived more like the posts that you write... you are an amazing woman! Kimberly

1:00 PM, August 01, 2005  
Blogger Muley said...

I apologize in advance for the extremely LONG comment, Jan, but reading your right-on post brought to mind the lyrics to a song Nanci Griffiths sings:

Drive-in Movies and Dashboard Lights

Sister had a crystal voice
She played a Silvertone from Montgomery Ward
Baez songs and Monroe hair
She sure could turn the boys' heads to stare
Swimwear saunter, tan and haunt them
Was all she learned in school
Books were for the other girls
And the other girls were fools
Texas back in '69 was drive-in movies and dashboard lights

Father waltzed her down the aisle
'Cause college didn't suit her style
The sad truth was she could barely read
But if you told dear father, well he wouldn't believe you
The telephone rang and drove mother insane
From all the hearts left on the shelf
Sister's gone and she won't be home
'Cause she didn't take care of herself
Texas back in '69 was drive-in movies and dashboard lights

Where is she now?
The backseat queen of fraternity
Where is she now?
She's heavy on thigh
And light on integrity
Someone should have told her
When beauty's all you offer
How soon the world disovers
That your beauty's gone
It's gone

Mother can't you hear your daughter crying?
Father wake up her youth is dying
The kids are gone
Husband's gone away
And its a shame 'cause she had such a lovely face
Can't you see she needed more than
"Oh, what a pretty child"
You never taught her truth from lie,
All you told her was to smile
Texas back in '69 was drive-in movies and dashboard lights

Where is she now?
The backseat queen of fraternity
Where is she now?
She's heavy on thigh
And light on integrity
Someone should have told her
When beauty's all you offer
How soon the world disovers
That your beauty's gone
It's gone

2:01 PM, August 01, 2005  
Blogger Jan said...

Wow. That is sobering, isn't it?

I have a song I like to sing to my children. It was written by Fred Rogers (aka Mr. Rogers):

It's you I like,
It's not the things you wear,
It's not the way you do your hair--
But it's you I like
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you--
Not the things that hide you,
Not your toys--
They're just beside you.

But it's you I like--
Every part of you,
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you'll remember
Even when you're feeling blue
That it's you I like,
It's you yourself,
It's you, it's you I like.

2:10 PM, August 01, 2005  
Blogger Mel said...

On the other hand, it's also nice to be told you are pretty. My parents couldn't be bothered and my stepmom told me she was careful never to compliment me so I wouldn't get a "big head."

2:35 PM, August 01, 2005  
Blogger cmhl said...

surfed across your blog-- I have enjoyed reading it!

5:17 PM, August 01, 2005  
Blogger Patrick said...

"I love my mommy. She's a pretty mommy." That's what Caroline, a third grader, said to me in class one day. When Caroline's mother came to school for her first parent/teacher conference, I met a woman of almost fifty with frizzy hair and a few extra pounds. What did Caroline see that Hollywood would overlook?

10:06 PM, August 07, 2005  

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