I don’t normally write posts about other articles I read, but today I came across a story that really made me think. Today Mamamia posted a story called: ‘If you meet my daughter, please don’t tell her she is ‘beautiful'”. Written by Mum Ally Grace, this story was indeed written from the heart, and it was a brave message of challenging the world and the way she has chosen to raise her daughter and tackle an issue that is close to many.
If you have not read the article, you really need to. You see Ally has a daughter who is now five years old. From the moment she was a baby, she was challenged by the idea of calling her ‘beautiful’. She felt a real uneasiness by the connotations that this word brings, and the pressure that society puts on girls to indeed ‘be beautiful’. The pink, the princess, the perfect looks. She simply did not want her daughter growing up thinking that in order to be ‘beautiful’, she had to conform to the expectations of modern society. So she decided to challenge this notion and erase the word from their household. She does not want people calling her daughter beautiful. She wants her daughter to flourish, to be who she wants to be, to create a self perception and character that is based on her own understanding of the world. She says:
“If you happen to meet my daughter, feel free to speak to her, be kind to her, converse with her and spark her interest.But please refrain from telling her that she is “beautiful”. We don’t want your judgement.”
After reading it myself, I felt two things: 1. Admiration and 2. Sadness. Firstly, I truly admire her persistence and determination to challenge society and the negative ways in which we mould our girls towards achieving ‘perfection’ based on looks and stereotypes. I hope that I too can help Ella, and my next child (girl or boy), to be who they want to be without the feeling that they need to ‘be’ what others ‘want’ them to be. I hope she follows her interests, dreams and passions no matter what they are. I hope that she dreams big and does not see the world as a barrier towards achieving her dreams. I hope that we can support her through the tough times. Through peer pressure, through teenage hood and through all of the ups and downs that life will bring. I just want her to be happy, and I truly admire Ally for wanting the same for her child, and making a stand agains what society believes girls ‘should’ be in life.
However I also felt an overwhelming sense of sadness. I felt as though somehow she made the word ‘beautiful’ an ugly word. A swear word. A word that should not be used. I completely understand her point of view and the sentiments behind it. However I am sad that she is not tackling the hard task of redefining ‘beautiful’ to ensure that her daughter understands the true meaning of the word.
I want my children to feel beautiful inside and out. I want them to understand that there is so much beauty in the world. In the way we feel, in the way we treat others, in the way we appreciate life. I want them to love beauty in all of its forms. I don’t want them to think that in order to be beautiful, they has to be a princess with perfect hair, skin, makeup and a skinny body. I want them to develop a positive self perception and self confidence. I want them to be persistent and to treat others with empathy and compassion. However I do want them to see beauty in their life, and feel as though they are beautiful. I don’t want it to be a negative, but rather a chance to explore what beauty really means, and how they can develop a beautiful character.
I guess I’m just sad that the word ‘beautiful’ has become an ugly word. There is so much to be thankful for in life, and as a parent I want to help my children understand it’s true definition. I want it to be a positive word in our house and in our lives for many years to come.
*image linked to it’s original source.