Visually, she has what I would consider aesthetically pleasing features. Beautiful lush hair, almond-shaped eyes and a smile that can light up a room. Not to mention, her good quiet nature only adds to her appeal. Here’s a picture to prove this is not solely a mother’s bias at work.
She is a pretty girl. I’m not saying she is prettier than all the other girls, I’m just saying she is pretty in her right. Her beauty stands on its own and is not up for debate which should be true for every girl. Unfortunately, it is not.
So, when I saw the videos circulating of mostly girls, asking questions like:
Am I Ugly?
Am I Pretty?
Tell me the truth.
My heart sank. I immediately thought of my own daughter’s struggle to feel good enough.
My daughter’s current struggles are more to do with who she is on the inside, versus how she looks on the outside. When she first got to middle school, she got a lot of slack for dressing differently, having different hair and not wearing the latest styles. She deliberately began to go to school with unconventional clothing and purple colored hair as a way of expressing herself.
It pained me to see her do this, but I understood she had to stand her ground and be who she felt she was, whether they approved or not. That paired with a few karate lessons and many of them did begin to either leave her alone or accept her. Things have begun to normalize.
Her struggles now involve questions like:
Am I brave enough?
Am I funny enough?
Is blood really thicker than water?
This is partly because the argument about whether or not she is pretty was put to rest early on. After-all, being pretty is a superficial thing. My daughter is a lot of things. Superficial is not one of them.
When she was in the first grade, the kids began telling my daughter she was ugly.
At that age, ugly is just one of those words kids learn and decide it’s fun to use. Now, I don’t want to believe there are any ugly children in the world, perhaps there are, but I knew for certain mine was not. When she came home crying, I did my best to encourage her and gave her the standard self-image/self-esteem pep talk only a Mom can give.
I would say things like:
Look in the mirror. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.
How can they say those things?
Look at you, you have this [Enter her best features].
I would end with some great platitudes like:
Pretty is as Pretty does.
What matters is what’s one the inside.
Needless, to say she was not convinced.
And then one day, she told me she found out those kids were liars. She said she had PROOF that she was not ugly. Something inside of me leaped to her speak with such empirical conviction.
Was it something I said? Did I somehow get through to her? Of course not.
She told me, “Yeah I told my Daddy the kids called me ugly. He told me they were liars because it is impossible for him to make an ugly kid. He only makes pretty ones. So, that means I have to be pretty”.
So folks, there we have it. Once again father knows best. He knew a heartfelt platitude wouldn’t work. So, he gave her something else. He gave her a connection to him and took the air of out their convoluted accusation that she wasn’t pretty. I think this is something that has really helped her to stay rooted through these trying tween and teen years.
Am I Ugly? videos are without question disturbing. But, they are merely a symptom of the larger psychological deterioration of the young female psyche. A deterioration that I think fathers and men of influence can play a key role in helping to rebuild.
Young girls are not parking tickets they don’t need validation from a man or anyone else. However, a firm statement from an invested father/male figure can go a long way in helping them to fight hard to know their own value versus posting a YouTube video in desperate search of it.