The other morning at school drop-off I realized I simply had to take a picture of my daughter. She had picked out her outfit for the day and it was so snazzy and adorable that I had to memorialize it. I asked her to pose and her face lit up – she’s so full of vitality and excitement. When I finished taking the picture she ran to my arms and I squeezed her tight and whispered, as I so often do, “You’re so beautiful.”
Immediately I felt the guilt. We all read that article a few years ago about why we should stop calling little girls cute and pretty and, yes, beautiful. We should focus on their smarts, their efforts, their interests, their virtues. I believe it: I don’t want her to think that being physically attractive is all that matters or that I’ll somehow love her less if she’s not beautiful.
Even as I felt the guilt wash over me, though, my heart rebelled. “You’re beautiful” is the most perfect way I know to say what I mean and I don’t want to stop saying it.
I suppose I do, in a way, mean that she’s physically attractive. I happen to think she’s adorable and that her blue eyes are the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. But I don’t mean it in some superlative way. I don’t think she’s any more beautiful than every single child is. I don’t think she’s destined to break hearts or be a supermodel. I don’t mean that she’s just another pretty face.
I mean SO MUCH more than that. Continue reading »