You’re So Vain

You probably think this blog is about you

Jo Swinson - Women's Minister

Jo Swinson – Women’s Minister.
Image courtesy of http://www.joswinson.org.uk/

There’s been a lot of discussion in the media this week about whether or not it’s a good thing to tell your child they’re beautiful.  It all stems from the women’s minister, Jo Swinson’s, suggestion that doing so leads children to put too much emphasis on looks to succeed in life.  So, here’s my twopenny’s-worth.

I tell my daughter she’s beautiful ever day. I also tell her she’s gorgeous and lovely. Why not? I doubt at nine months’ old she has a clue what I’m saying, although some days I do wonder if she thinks her name is actually Gorgeous. But then I think she is, so what’s the problem? I have no doubt others don’t think she’s quite as beautiful as I do, so someone might as well give her a compliment now and then (every half an hour).

You had one eye in the mirror

Granted, she does like spending quite a lot of time in front of the mirror.  You see, that’s where her best friend lives. Her friend who chats back to her, mimics her movements and always, strangely, has the same toys as she does. She does like to inspect the girl in the mirror very closely, and I always tell her how beautiful the girl in the mirror is too.

You-re so vain - using any reflective surface as a mirror

You-re so vain – using any reflective surface as a mirror

This isn’t to say that I don’t complement her on her other skills and personality traits.  After all, I do want to give her a more rounded perspective on life and her achievements.  I praise her for playing with a toy well, or learning new skills like peek-a-boo or patty-cake. I praise her for sharing a toy or stroking another child gently rather than grabbing their hair. Hell, I’ll even praise her on the size of poo she can produce.  That’s how well rounded I want her to grow up.

Clouds in my coffee

So, if Ms Swinson is to be believed, I run the risk of having the most vain daughter as she grows up.  One who places far too much emphasis on looks for success. This is probably not helped by me sitting her on our bed while I do my hair and make-up each day, potentially showing her you can’t go out without some semblance of a face on . But what’s the problem with giving your children a little bit of confidence?

As we grow up, family members become our harshest critics.  No one else can be as direct, or downright rude, and get away with it.  Who else can point out your greatest weaknesses and then brush it aside with a less acerbic comment to clear the air?  My Nan liked to take the opportunity at family get-togethers to comment on other realtives’ weight. My mother chose the supposed-bonding experience of wedding dress shopping to discount certain dress styles based on my ‘awfully long face’.  Something I’ve never quite let her live down.

And all the girls dream that they’ll be your partner

So, excuse me for taking every opportunity going to tell my daughter how beautiful I believe she is.  I’d like her to be far more self-confident in her appearance than I’ve ever been.  Even if others think this is mis-guided in the long run.  I’d rather she had the self-confidence of Olive Hoover in Little Miss Sunshine than the self-doubt and general malaise of Angela Chase in My So Called Life. An odd comparison, you might think, but surely all anyone wants for their child is for them to grow up well rounded and confident in themselves. So what’s the issue with the odd complement here and there?

What do you think? How often do you complement your child? Do you complement their looks and / or other aspects of their personality and skills?

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