I came across an interesting blog post which was a reaction to a piece in the Huffington Post. The original piece stressed the importance of making children feel beautiful, no matter if their appearances do or don’t “comply” with cultural norms around beauty.
Who could argue with this point of view, right? First, we all think our children are beautiful because we love them. And, second, why must we assume that society’s vision of beauty should be adopted by us anyway?
But after reading the second blog post, “Beauty is more that skin deep:why don’t I believe that?” , I started seeing it another way. The author calls bullshit on the first article saying that children learn pretty quickly whether society at large deems them beautiful. And parents’ vehement claims of their children’s beauty is not only false but even harmful. Her answer is to urge parents not to “lie” to their children but instead downplay the importance of beauty all together. That way, an ugly child won’t be naively shielded from reality but also not be concerned by it at the same time. For example, I’m a terrible soccer player. I have no coordination. But I don’t care. It just doesn’t matter to me.
At first, I found this argument sensible. But then I realized that an appreciation of beauty is inherent to the human condition. To believe that we can downplay the importance among our children is ridiculous. Of course it shouldn’t be among the most critical traits we cultivate. But ignoring, downplaying or, at the worst, shunning it, does no one any good. It sets up a false reality and doesn’t prepare our children well.
Plus, I believe anyone CAN be beautiful. Perhaps some have to work harder than others but I think we should embrace beauty and support anyone who chooses to express it.