Dear Educators, Dentists, Doctors, Coaches, Cashiers, Waitresses, Clerks, and Strangers on the street,
Please stop telling my daughter she’s pretty. Instead, tell her she’s brave or smart or kind. Comment on her helpfulness, her creativity, or her awesome sense of humor. If you have to comment on her appearance (news flash: you don’t), tell her that her new sneakers look fast. Say her dress makes her look like a genius. Tell her her jeans look good for tree climbing.
My daughter, my intelligent, big-hearted, amazing girl, thinks that being pretty is what makes her worthy. She thinks that being pretty is what is expected of her. She thinks being pretty is the most important thing she has to offer. She doesn’t get this from me.
She gets it from you. Yes, you. The person she looks up to and learns from at school. The person we go to to keep her healthy. The person who teaches her how to play soccer. The person we see every week at the grocery store. And from random strangers on the street.
It’s not that my daughter isn’t pretty — she’s gorgeous. And by that I mean she is engaging, insightful, and can make up a knock-knock joke on the spot. She is strong and proud and a little bit stubborn. She is a good hand holder. She makes up silly songs and can tell you lots of random facts about bugs. She loves worms. Sometimes she skips 15 when she counts. She taught herself to swim underwater. She screams with joy when she sees a dragonfly. There’s a million other things I could tell you. None of them are about how she looks and all of them make her beautiful.
Again, it’s not that my daughter isn’t pretty. It’s that it shouldn’t matter. And it’s that you don’t get to define her beauty. You don’t get to decide her self-worth. You don’t get to evaluate her looks and freely offer your opinion. So stop. Her beauty, her self worth, comes from her. She is the only one who gets to have an opinion . She is the only one who defines who she is.
So please, think about what you say. Think about what message you are giving to my awesome girl. Think about being someone who lifts her up for who she is instead of for how she looks. Otherwise, keep your mouth shut.
“You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.”
– Diana Vreeland