inner beauty

Oh, beauty.

I have written about the topic on these pages before. Beauty is more complicated than I would like for it to be, but it is something that we all have to handle. Parents in particular. I try (and try and try) to ensure The Kidling understands that beauty is, in fact, superfluous. That other things–that all other things–are more important. We praise her for important characteristics: kindness, hard work, ingenuity, generosity, strength, courage. I am so adamant about praising her for commendable behaviors and attributes that it occurred to me last week that I could not recall the last time I had shared glowing words about her appearance.

Well, other than growling, “I love your face!” at her. But we all know that “I love your face” is really a commentary on the fact of her face. I love that she has a face. I love that she is. Always.

Well, almost always.

Knowing that I have likely been remiss in completely excluding flattering words about her physical appearance, I complimented her. But I did it carefully.

“Kidling, I know this isn’t what’s important, but you are a beautiful girl,” I told her. She glowed, and I knew that she knew that beauty is more important to the outside world than I let on. I am going to pretend for a moment that this isn’t a result of my not-infrequent primping.

Or the fact that The Kidling said to me last week (in response to my delay getting ready one morning), “Yeah, Mom. It’s not like your hair has to be perfectly fancy.”

As such, when she began to carry on about what makes a person good tonight on the way home, I was delighted to hear her say, “It’s who you are that counts!”

“That’s right,” I gloated agreed. “You mean on the inside?”

“No,” she replied, “on the outside.”

Back to the drawing board.

About The Mamahttp://kidlingville.comProfessional talker, editor, emailer, problem solver, adjunct lecturer, blogger, and mother to the brilliantly absurd Kidling.

24 thoughts on “inner beauty

  1. That’s great! A while back my 5-year-old and I were watching The Voice, during the blind auditions, and she says to me: “It doesn’t matter what they sound like, Mommy. It only matters what they look like.” Sigh.

  2. I applaud your efforts, Christine–you are swimming against a strong societal tide on this issue. No matter how many “tell alls” I see on the way that the models in fashion mags are photoshopped into perfection, I still find myself flipping through the pages of Vogue and thinking, “Look Lori! there * are* women whose legs are 6′ long and whose thighs are the same circumference as their calves–it could happen!” Sigh…

    • It can’t happen. I wish folks would stop pretending that it can. I choose to view the insanely thin, strong, yet curvy female as the boogey man: it can only haunt you if you believe it is real.

      • I’ll give ya a big ole shout out on that one, Christine. We were watching TV last night and my hubby said, “How can that girl be so thin and still have such large breasts?” And I said, “She can’t.” He got the message…. 😉

  3. I love this! I’m currently pregnant with my first child- a girl and my mother is HUGE on the princess, “pretty girl” thing lately and I’m nervous that when she is born my mom won’t focus on any other wonderful qualities she is sure to have.. I think that balance is super important!

    • Balance is key. Balance is hard, but it is key. That you know that now will do your daughter a great service as she is born and as she grows. Congratulations, and best of luck to you.

  4. I told my beautiful son that be was beautiful one too many times. He started replying, “I know, I’m awesome”. I couldn’t help myself. He IS beautiful. He’s got perfect blue eyes, dark, long lashes and looks just like his pappa. How could I not gloat? Still, I knew I had some reverse parenting to do. We never have it “just right” as parents, but luckily we have time on our side to work out the kinks along the way. I’ll never stop telling my son he’s beautiful. But I have started telling him he’s beautiful because he’s smart, kind and compassionate- all of which he gets from me (go me). Visit my new blog at! Once I reach 10 replies on my first post, I’ll post my next one!

    • He is awesome. I am sure he knows that his beauty is only one of many ways in which he is awesome. Fret not, backward parent. You’ve got this one going the right way.

  5. This is so cute and true. Its important to give all kinds of positive feedback! My little one used to cry if her hair was not right. We asked all our friends to make a conscious effort to complement her for her attitude rather than appearance. One “uncle” in her life loves to tell her, “you’re so pretty on the inside, when you smile.” We’ve seen a great transformation. Now she is 5 and she has learned to put a “pony” in her hair. She’s more happy about her independence than about whether she has created a perfect, no-bump “pony.” As I’m writing this she is putting a “pony” in my hair so I look beautiful for my prince. LOL

  6. I enjoyed reading your post because it shows that you strive to instill a sense of morale in your daughter, and the value of self-worth. I appreciate that you, as a person, reject implausible heuristics about beauty. Instead, you seek to define beauty based on the inner person, who is often unnoticed by the outside world. Like you, I instill those values in my daughter. The difference is, however, I have taught my daughter not to be afraid of physical beauty. I have taught her that caring about physical appearance (e.g. Cleanliness, combed hair, attire that is fitting for an occasion, and adding make-up) is very important. Why? Because we do live in a world made up of individuals who are less apt to give you a second chance to form another impression (e.g. College admissions interview, job interview). In the end, I think we can agree that we are women who strive to raise conscious young women equipped to navigate life on their own terms. Great post!

    • Oh, trust that The Kidling understands those things. She has no choice, really. I work at a professional school that is part of a major university. I do my hair and wear make-up every day. I model self-care and I expect the same of her (she doesn’t go to school with bed head, for example). That being said, we don’t make it a “thing.” My guess is that you do something similar. Beauty is an added bonus, but it is not the main show. Cheers to you for recognizing that as well.

      Thanks for coming by, and for your thoughtful engagement. I hope to see you back!

  7. First off…Hello. Beginner so may stumble/ stutter/ run on a bit. I love your Blog. Beauty is an issue here in the Swain house. My eldest, 22yrs old..mixed heritage. My younger two are 8 and 6. Each are absolutely beautiful inside and out. The 6 yr old, Ci, is a handful. Sweet, nice at times, and happy most days, but she is so hung up on looks. Why? Not sure. She compares herself to her classmates all the time. It’s driving me crazy. She gushes over eye color, skin color, hair length, and…God yes….fashion. Fashion? I am a homemaker who hasn’t worn heels in nine years. My husband actually bought me a MAC gift card for mother’s day. I’m not saying I am ghastly…I don’t walk around in a Moomoo (is that how it’s spelled) and thick socks. I think natural is beautiful but will add a little this and that every so often. Sorry…venting. Well, I have been trying to convey to little miss, that beauty is in the inside, but it seems I have an uphill climb. Just wanted to share. Enjoy your day.

    • Six is a tough age. The Kidling is six, too, and we have our days. She isn’t into the fashion scene just yet (though when I let her choose her clothes, she wears both a leopard tank top and a leopard cardigan. Every time), but I know it is just a matter of time. I think that, as long as we keep hammering away at the important points, they will get it when they are ready.

      Cheers to you!

  8. I loved this post! I can so relate. My daughter is now a teenager and I recall enjoying this phase very much. The key is REPETITION! I felt like I was on “rewind-play-rewind again” mode for the longest time. Now that she is much older and more independent, I am happy with the results. You’re on the right track! Looking forward to your future posts!

  9. I love this post! The lesson of inner beauty and positive self image is one that I believe to be so important and as a new mummy to a little girl, I have often thought about how I will teach her this and what I will say.Thanks!

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