She's Not Just a Pretty Face
At some point in everyone’s life, there are defining moments; moments that make you who you are as you grow up. Whether you value money, looks, intelligence or athletics, in many cases, this can be accredited to those defining moments. In grade school, were you celebrated for having top grades in all of your subjects? Did you find your glory with a winning touchdown? Was your proudest moment being nominated as best dressed at graduation? All of these moments create a feeling of pride, of belonging and, more importantly, they create a memory in your mind of how to get the feeling of pride and belonging.It’s simple, if you are rewarded for something, whether with praise, money or trophies, you associate happiness with the reward. Similarly, if you are punished for something, you associate sadness with the punishment. Most people (yes I know exceptions) seek to feel happiness in their lives. So what do they do to achieve this? They go back to the basic actions that brought them happiness in the past, therefore, creating a habit. That kid growing up that was always praised for being an incredible athlete and felt the glory of their teammates celebrating them for amazing plays, puts immense value in being athletic. That kid, who was praised for the high marks by their parents and given money for every A, now seeks praise for intelligence. Obviously, this is very simplified and, if you are some psychologist, I know you will rip it apart with technicalities and exceptions, but overall there is truth to this. Bringing me to my point, don’t call me beautiful.If you are ever in the delivery wing of a hospital, listen to people talking. They will be holding a little baby girl saying “oh she is so beautiful!” Okay, I don’t know if you have ever seen a new baby but, I hate to break it to you, they are not beautiful. They are all shriveled up, pink and probably flaky. That child can’t open her eyes, let alone acknowledge the comment; yet, the brainwashing begins.Say that girl is now four years old. She has started school with the other kids and is getting ready in a brand new dress for her first day. Mom or Dad want a picture and can’t stop awing and cooing over how precious and beautiful their baby girl is. As they snap pictures nearly blinding the child, they continue to repeat she is beautiful. Her parents hug her and send her to school. Don’t even get me started about picture day.End of grade eight rolls around; she is getting dressed up for graduation (which is actually a thing… I am talking full gowns that cost more than my last car payment). Somehow, somewhere in that subconscious, there is a memory from her first day of school and how special she felt. The word “beautiful” is circling in her head creating pressure. She wants to feel special again, she has to look beautiful. Hence the $300 dress, hair style, pedicure, manicure and of course, new shoes. Again, Mom or Dad begins with the pictures and the praise, only further embedded the importance of being beautiful into her mind.Everyone blames the media for this necessity for woman to be thin, for the increase in eating disorders. But, someone, somewhere, had to begin this trend. I am not saying it is bad to compliment a girl on her looks but, why is it always beautiful? What is wrong with saying a girl looks strong? That she looks healthy? Better yet, that she looks happy?Start it young and start it early. Next time you look at a “beautiful” baby girl, flip your thought, instead of saying she is beautiful, start early and say she looks “healthy” or “strong”. You may laugh saying that a baby can’t look strong but, as discovered earlier, they really don’t look “beautiful” either.You can still tell a girl she is beautiful but, please, say it for the right reasons. Say it because she just finished running a full event on her own and still has a smile on her face. Say it because she just completed her university applications and is filled with anticipation for her future.Start this before they can even understand the words you are saying.