February 19, 2012

If a little girl says something like “I wish I was as beautiful as Mary,” a typical reply that parents and teachers give is, “Everyone is beautiful in different ways.” Stuff like this drives me crazy. Kids are not stupid. They see that beautiful girls get a lot more positive attentions than ugly girls do. That’s just a fact of life. You have to be blind not to see that. Most people think my daughter is a pretty girl so I can see all kinds of special attentions she gets, and I often see a harsh and painful contrast between what she gets and what ugly girls get. Most people are not consciously discriminating. When they see a really cute/pretty girl, they can’t help saying things like, “Oh, you are so cute!” and they might even give her gifts, like candies. When ugly girls walk in, they simply do not notice. I’ve seen situations where people spontaneously reacted to my daughter’s cuteness, and then realized that there was another girl with her, and quickly tried to be sensitive by saying, “You are cute too.” But kids are not stupid; they can tell when sincerity is lacking. Ugly girls suffer this kind of injustice even when they are 2 or 3 years old. So, when girls say something like “I wish I was as beautiful as Mary,” they are expressing their true feelings about how they look and about the reality of life. To say “Everyone is beautiful in different ways,” is to ignore, trivialize, deny, or minimize that pain. Sure, you can argue that personality can be beautiful too but that’s not what she is expressing. I think it’s important to validate her feelings. What I would say is, “I’m sorry you feel that pain; sadly life is unfair.”