According to several experts – and a new book by legal analyst Lisa Bloom – we need to stop telling our daughters how pretty they are. Compliments may seem like a harmless way to show love and boost their self-esteem, but Bloom says that our obsessive need to tell little girls how good they look teaches them that appearance is more important than brains and accomplishments, which leads to body-image issues, and harms their self-esteem.
And there’s science to back her up. A recent BBC survey found that 6-in-10 girls over the age of 8 say they’d be happier if they were thinner. And the number of teenage girls getting breast augmentation is increasing 150 percent per year.
Bloom also says that family members and strangers use words to describe boys that are likely to boost their self-esteem, like “friendly,” “smart,” and “funny,”while girls are described with superficial words, like “cute,” “pretty,” and “beautiful," whether it’s about their clothes, their hair, or their general appearance.
So, what’s the fix on this? Make sure you focus in on non-looks-related aspects of your daughter, and tell her she’s smart, capable, kind and thoughtful. And when someone says, “Your daughter’s beautiful,” you can say, “Yes. And she’s a great kid, too.”