Why I’m Not Going to Stop Telling My Daughter She is Beautiful

Why I'm Not Going To Stop Telling My Daughter She Is BeautifulMy daughter, who will somehow, impossibly, be six this month, is beautiful.

You’d have to be blind not to see it. Her brother is gorgeous, too. They take my breath away sometimes. A lot of the time, I’m not sure how I made them.  I tell them they are beautiful often, usually for no reason at all except that I’ve been recently struck by it as they walk by or collapse in a heap of giggles.

There’s a pushback these days, against telling children, but particularly little girls, they are beautiful. The concern is that this emphasis on beauty is hollow – meaningless in the face of being smart, or strong, or talented. And while at first I agreed, now I’m less sure. It made so much sense to me early on. There is so much more to her than her beauty, her beauty does not define her, her beauty is just an outward thing over which she has no control.

But then I realized that as I’ve come up into adulthood and started to embrace my body, and become comfortable in my skin, I’ve felt more and more beautiful. Why was that? I may not have control, ultimately, over the shape of my nose or the fact that my hair often more closely resembles “Did you comb that?” than “beachy waves”, but in becoming more confident, more sure and more forgiving of myself, I started to find my beauty in more and more places, accept compliments with a bit more grace, and also, become more comfortable complimenting the beauty of the women around me.

It’s a common greeting among adult women when we first see each other “You look great!”. Never once have I wondered to myself if the friend or even stranger who has complimented me thinks that’s all I am, is pretty. I know that my friends know there’s more to me than that, and I know that most strangers likely realize it, too. I also know, that people are seeing more than the eyeliner or lip gloss I put on. They’re seeing the confidence and happiness that shines through all of it. If we’re friends, they’re seeing our love and shared affection for each other. To be beautiful is more than just external.

And you know what else? To be beautiful doesn’t make you less than. I think we run the risk of tipping too far in the other direction. Why, when we give a compliment, do we need to compliment someone on something with more perceived value than their beauty? Yes, society has made it pretty rough on us, and some of us are chasing an impossible standard of beauty that even the models who represent it don’t look like without the aid of Photoshop. But our little girls aren’t looking to be airbrushed into flat tummies or smoothed to the point of being poreless. They proudly put together mismatched outfits and sometimes don’t comb their hair, and wear dresses to scale play structures in and know the answers in class and ALL of that amounts to beauty that cannot be quantified. And in telling her she is beautiful -exactly- as she is, we counter some of the big bad beauty machine.

So that’s why I’m not going to stop. I’m going to tell my daughter she is beautiful. Beautiful when she’s kind to others, when she’s laughing, when she’s not afraid to climb a tree. Beautiful when she’s trying long dresses for homecoming in the future. When she’s playing dressup as a Princess and when she’s fresh out of the bath, and when she’s not sure. Especially when she’s not sure.


Stephanie Ostermann

I’m the sort of girl who you meet for coffee and end up pouring your entire heart out to. The friend you come to when you need someone to call it straight. No bullshit. No extras. Just truth.

I’m a communicator. That’s a PC way of saying I like to talk, but I also spend a lot of my time listening, and over the years, I’ve developed a sense for subtext – how one or two words can change your entire message, what people are really trying to say and how to weave the varied layers of your story into one cohesive brand message that your clients fall in love with.

When I'm not acting as editor in chief for Vivid & Brave, you can find me geeking out over words here.

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