‘You Are So Pretty!’
***Disclaimer — This is not meant to contribute to making anyone feel ‘bad’ rather, this post initiated from recent observations that sparked these statements and reflections***
With so many creative and fun family and sibling Christmas photo sessions being posted lately, many of the comments caught my attention…and something dawned on me.
A majority of the comments, mostly from women toward other women and the girls in the photos, were based 100% on outward physical appearance.
Phrases like; “You’re so pretty!”, “Your girls are stunning!”, “Good-looking like their Momma!”.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong about complimenting someone on how they look, per se, blanket statements offering vague, empty, valueless, ladened with a focus on how beauty is perceived in our society is cringe-worthy.
Maybe it’s just me but, particularly in our North American culture with everything we as women and girls have to face already, wouldn’t it be better to shy away from these types of comments?
I feel it would be wise to intentionally remember how impactful words actually are and how they affect the individual spirit…even through words on Facebook…as well as the perception (or change in perception) others have toward an individual.
How about choosing empowering words, encouragement or acknowledging a fine detail they may have put a lot of effort into?
In a world where children are perpetually and increasingly being overly sexualized, in a world where women fight hard…every day…against being valued only for their looks and in a world where most people would agree that language is important…why, then, is this (often innocently or thought of as well-intentioned) our too-common first knee-jerk, default choice for a compliment?
A common 21th century issue many people speak up against is the ‘inequality of women and girls’ yet with the next breath or Facebook comment, in such a simple (often genuinely ignorant) but negatively consequential way, contribute further to the imbalance of our female value by saying something as frivolous as, “You’re so pretty”.
It’s butt-backwards and I don’t get why I keep seeing it over, and over, and over again. And I’m not innocent of this either.
Especially when it comes to children, can we pick something…anything… else to say about a photo or a real-life human with many other amazing qualities?
Even if the comment is about something physical, how about picking out something specific and be genuine about it? For example, instead of, “You’re beautiful!” a good option might be, “Wow, those earrings sure complement your dress!”.
Or instead of, “You have such gorgeous daughters!” (like that’s a shocking new concept to the Mom or something) an alternative could be, “I bet they are so kind, just like their Momma!”
Whether I was the deliverer or receiver of beauty-based comments, those types of comments have never sat right. And I’ve often thought; “Am I just insecure? Can I not take a compliment well? Maybe it’s both. What’s my problem? What the issue here?”
Simply, it would be nicer to be recognized for something not beauty-based or sexual…I mean, if someone is going to put the energy out there anyway.
Soooo….we have options in category 1:
“Cool earrings! That colour really suits you! What creative style you have! I love that haircut on you! Lip colour…on point!”
“You’ve inspired me to do…”
“You have a peace about you…”
“Your smile/laugh is so contagious…”
“I leave feeling better after I’ve hung out with you…”
Or we have these:
“You’re so pretty”.
“They’re so beautiful”
“What stunning girls you have”
A peach emoji (eye roll)
A fire emoji
…or any comment based solely on outward appearance that’s set as a stupid unrealistic 2020 North American standard.
IMO — words (or emojis) like the latter group feel cheaper than the worst buck-O-beer induced one-liner and emptier than a bottle of water at the end of a marathon in August...in Vegas.
Remember, words are powerful and language is important.