Pant Suits & Misogyny: Don’t Let Election Ugliness Stop Our Daughters From Feeling Beautiful

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In response to all the conversations about beauty, pant suits and femininity in this election, writer and producer, Alli Joseph, wrote a thought-provoking article about beauty and raising girls.   Joseph doesn’t so much dwell on sensational elections talk, though.  Instead she pushes us, parents, to rethink how we teach our daughters about the importance of valuing beauty.

To raise independent, powerful girls, she explains that we should encourage our daughters to explore and enjoy their beauty.  Now that may seem totally counter to what we are all feeling right now.   After all, look at how women are demeaned by people like Donald Trump who seem to value our appearance over all other traits.   And there’s no question we are all applauding Michelle Obama right now for her speech about our girls being WAY more than just pretty faces, and they need to be protected from beliefs and behaviors of people like Trump.

But Joseph advises us NOT to eschew conversations and behaviors around beauty with our daughters.  In fact, we MUST have them.  And in spite of the climate, I feel the same way.

This story reminded me of a post I wrote a number of years ago after chatting with Sheila Kelly, actress and founder of the S Factor — essentially pole dancing for exercise and feminine awakening.  I was telling Sheila how impressed I was with author and TV personality, Lisa Bloom‘s post from 2011, “How to Talk to Little Girls” and I how I wrote a post about it.  Lisa was urging us all not to fall into the common trap of telling girls how pretty they look when we first meet them — something culture has ingrained into us.  I wrote the following:

…Bloom recognizes the inclination we all have to compliment little girls on how adorable they look. But this act affects them in deep and not always positive ways.

How so?  There are stats showing how young girls are increasingly more concerned with being fat and wearing make-up to make themselves more beautiful than ever before.

Now, I’m not disparaging looking nice, or adults recognizing this, but if our first encounters with girls are all about how they look, of course they are going to think that their appearance is their most critical asset!

Bloom recommends we begin our conversations with little girls not with talking about their clothes but, instead, with questions about what they’re currently reading or their favorite books. Not only does this type of talk get them off the beauty talk but it shows that we value their brains first and foremost.

I was pretty pretty satisfied with my pov until Sheila set me straight.  She said we should celebrate our girls’ beauty otherwise they don’t know how to handle it as they age.  Ignoring this topic  could lead to bad consequences.  In a follow-up post, “What Shelia Taught Me”, I explained Sheila’s words:

Of course we should embrace the many different sides of girls. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ALSO compliment them on their beauty. In fact, we should instill a sense of confidence and ownership of our girls’ beauty. We shouldn’t ignore or downplay it but rather teach them how to live with it with pride and love.

Being beautiful isn’t shameful.  So why should beauty be downplayed versus other characteristics? It’s certainly not MORE important than other aspects of their personalities, but if we ignore their beauty or push it to the side our girls won’t know how to handle it. They may feel it’s not worthwhile. Or, as they age, they may not have the ability deal maturely and confidently with the positive attention they eventually do receive from others.

Like what Joseph realizes, if we DON’T embrace our daughters’ beauty, along with their other traits, we may be leading them down a confusing path later in life.  I’m not saying we should just remind our girls they are beautiful but truly address the topic and how they feel about if.  If we don’t, they may grow up relying solely on the impressions of others, like those of Donald Trump, or determine their beauty in potentially screwy ways because we haven’t set the right attitude.  Think about it, we teach our kids the difference between healthy and unhealthy eating habits, the difference between right and wrong, or to tell the truth vs lie.  Why?  So when they age and encounter challenges on their own, they know the best road to take.  So too, we should do the same with regards to their beauty.  We should make girls feel beautiful and encourage them to explore and express their beauty in safe and encouraging ways EARLY on.  That way they will feel more secure in how they see themselves later in life.

I have a daughter.  And there is no way I want her taken advantage of, degraded or abused in ANY way for her beauty.  But I also want her to cherish ALL the sides of herself. I want her to learn that beauty is just another wonderful way — along with being curious, strong, smart, friendly, etc — of being human.

Week in Review: 12/25-12/31

New Years in Rio

Want to know what intrigued us this week?  Take a look…

Learning how to graciously accept a compliment for our beauty Weekend Observations: You’re Giving Some Awesome Advice Lisa

Some people have obscure imaginations!  Take a look at what one sculptor created from Louis Vuitton bags Pic of the Week: From Handbags to Fine Art

Follow Karen’s progress at week 5 and get an interesting perspective on whether we should love our bodies, even if they’re at an unhealthy weight 30in30: Week 5: I Love Me, I Love Me Not

My response to people’s disdain for the pursuit of beauty Can All the Beauty Downers Zip It?

Add some more beauty reading to your day with More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

Happy New Year!

Weekend Observations: You’re Giving Some Awesome Advice Lisa

A Heartfelt Thank You

While I’ve challenged a number of Lisa Bloom’s views on Beautyskew, I gave a big cheer when I saw her post on taking compliments: How to Take A Compliment. When I first launched Beautyskew I, too, asked why I, and so many others, have such a hard time taking a compliment, especially when it refers to our beauty.  Just yesterday, I got a nice comment on my new haircut.  Did I acct it graciously?  Not quite.  I always tend to belittle the compliment with a, “Oh this old thing, or really?  I feel I look so shitty.”

I guess we don’t want to seem arrogant or maybe we truly don’t think we look beautiful.

Enough already!!!!!  We are all beautiful.

Let’s embrace the compliments.

And of course, compliment others too.

It may be hard at first to fully accept the kind words of others, but Lisa Bloom gives us some tips.  At first, we may be only able to muster a “thank you.”  That’s OK.  But as we get used to it, take the compliments more zestfully.  Respond with a big, smile-y “thanks!”  Finally, we need to compliment ourselves every time we look in the mirror.  Sure, it’s great if others verbally compliment us, but more importantly, we should be able to say to ourselves, “we are pretty damn gorgeous!”

Amen!

Weekend Observations: What Sheila Kelley Taught Me

If you’ve been following my posts, you’d know that I met Sheila Kelley, actress and founder of the S Factor.

She is amazing!  She is beautiful and brilliant.  She’s inspiring and sexy.  Our conversation was so awesome that I have fodder for about 10 posts.

One subject that struck me deeply was how to raise our daughters into confident women.  Especially into women who loves their bodies and embrace their femininity.

I told her about a post I wrote a month or so ago in which I promoted the advice of Lisa Bloom (Weekend Observations: Should We Compliment Little Girls on Their Beauty?).  Bloom had written a piece about controlling our urge to immediately compliment little girls on their beauty when we first meet them.  We should, instead, talk to them about more intellectual things like books.  She argued that when little girls get such positive feedback for their beauty, they begin to believe that their looks are their most important source of currency.

In my post I agreed with Bloom.

But Sheila has now set me straight.

Of course we should embrace the many different sides of girls.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ALSO compliment them on their beauty.  In fact, we should instill a sense of confidence and ownership of our girls’ beauty.  We shouldn’t ignore or downplay it but rather teach them how to live with it with pride and love.

This makes total sense.

Being beautiful isn’t shameful.  So why should beauty be downplayed versus other characteristics?  It’s certainly not MORE important than other aspects of their personalities, but if we ignore their beauty or push it to the side our girls won’t know how to handle it.  They may feel it’s not worthwhile.  Or, as they age, they may not have the ability deal maturely and confidently with the positive attention they eventually do receive from others.

I look forward to raising Laila into a well-rounded, beautiful woman who loves ALL aspects of herself, including her body.

Thank you Sheila.

Week in Review: 7/10-7/16

Take a read of what we shared this week:

Will immediate praise of our girls’ beauty misguide them? Weekend Observation: Should We Compliment Little Girls on Their Beauty?

Why we admire pregnant beauties Pic of the Week: There’s A Human Being Behind That Pretty Face

Why do pics of ourselves always look worse than our “real selves”?  Can we change that? Can I Really Look Hot in Pictures?

What explains the desire for moms and daughters to share quality time while beautifying themselves and each other? Why Do Mothers and Daughters Bond Over Beauty?

The beauty news continues with More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

Weekend Observations: Should We Compliment Little Girls for Their Beauty?

If any of you read our blog, you know that my 5 year-old daughter, Laila, is a tomboy.  Unlike her mommy, she has no interest in girly stuff, especially anything regarding make-up, dresses or hair accessories.

I have to bend over backward — even bribe her — to wear one of the many dresses or skirts hanging in her closet.  Who doesn’t want their daughters to look cute, right?

But when other people gush over how she looks in one of these cute outfits, I can’t help but squirm.

This weekend I begged her to wear a dress to a party and she complied (it helped that I promised her she could pick out whatever she wanted to wear for the rest of the week). And, lo and behold, when people saw her, they immediately mentioned how beautiful she looked.  As you can imagine, Laila found this a bit embarrassing.  And I cringed.

Am I being a hypocrite?  I’m the one dressing her up!  Why is it bothering me?

And then I read a great blog post by Lisa Bloom called “How to Talk to Little Girls” which explained why I’m feeling the way I do and how to change it (coincidentally, I just put my critical 2 cents worth about her new book in last Thursday’s post: “Thoughtful or Beautiful? Must We Choose?”).  In the post, Bloom recognizes the inclination we all have to compliment little girls on how adorable they look.  But this act affects them in deep and not always positive ways.

How so? There are stats showing how young girls are increasingly more concerned with being fat and wearing make-up to make themselves more beautiful than ever before.

Now, I’m not disparaging looking nice, or adults recognizing this, but if our first encounters with girls are all about how they look, of course they are going to think that their appearance is their most critical asset!

Bloom recommends we begin our conversations with little girls not with talking about their clothes but, instead, with questions about what they’re currently reading or their favorite books.  Not only does this type of talk get them off the beauty talk but it shows that we value their brains first and foremost.

Now that’s some great advice.

Thanks to this post I feel I get the best of both worlds: I can spruce up Laila’s wardrobe every now and then and still find a way to shift the attention away from what she wears to who she really is.

Week in Review: 7/3-7/9

Take a look at we discussed this week:

Staying in NYC does have its beauty advantages http://beautyskew.com/2011/07/03/weekend-observations-manhattan-the-beautiful/

Marc Jacobs reinterprets the advertising model http://beautyskew.com/2011/07/05/pic-of-the-week-reinterpreting-beautiful-advertising/

The ugly truth that the heavier you are, the less money you make http://beautyskew.com/2011/07/06/skinnier-women-make-more-cash/

A critical response to a Lisa Bloom interview on women and beauty http://beautyskew.com/2011/07/07/thoughtful-or-beautiful-must-we-choose/

Some more juicy reading http://beautyskew.com/2011/07/08/more-to-love-additions-to-the-reading-list-48/?preview=true&preview_id=4282&preview_nonce=7337b49ed9