I just heard some so-called “expert” on the radio tell her listeners that fathers shouldn’t tell their daughters they look “beautiful” or “pretty”. Apparently, it puts too much emphasis on a woman’s appearance and puts undue pressure on girls to maintain a certain look.
Instead, if you want to compliment them, say something completely vague and meaningless like:
- That’s a pretty color on you.
- That’s a nice dress.
- Your dress and shoes go really well together.
To which 85% of all teenage girls will reply with…
“What is THAT supposed to mean?! You don’t think I look pretty?! UGH! SEE?! I KNEW I looked stupid!”
And then they will promptly turn on their heels, run out of the room tearing their perfectly coiffed hair out, and slamming their bedroom doors amidst a great wailing and gnashing of teeth.
I’m not a father, but I am a daughter, and I’m telling all dads everywhere… Don’t say such stupid, insipid things. Your daughter will see right through it, and you will look like an idiot for saying something so dumb.
Don’t get me wrong. I get it. I do. I understand why the “expert” was making such a recommendation. Because it IS true. We put way too much value on a woman’s looks, and oftentimes emphasize the wrong things. We should be emphasizing our daughters’ character, talents, and intelligence – not just their looks. But there is nothing wrong with telling your daughter that she is beautiful or that she is pretty – as long as it’s not the only thing you compliment or focus on. For every time you tell your daughter she’s beautiful, make sure you tell her she’s smart, capable, and full of integrity twice as often. But don’t stop telling your daughter she’s beautiful. She needs to hear it.
Girls seek out their fathers’ validation. They need to hear from a male role model that they have value, that they are valued, and that they have something worthwhile to offer. (As a girl who grew up not hearing that from her father… trust me… they need to hear it.) As long as you’re not sending your daughter the message that their value and worth come from their looks… there’s nothing wrong with complimenting her appearance. As long as you’re emphasizing her intelligence and character and talents as well? By all means, tell her she’s beautiful.