Why I Tell My Daughter She is Pretty

Why I think telling my daughter she is pretty is the most important parenting move I can make, despite what the experts say! 

Last night as I was putting my 3 year old, Keira, to bed, she asked to give me hugs and kisses.  As I bent down to receive her tight little squeeze she grabbed my hair and started to pet it, almost in awe.  She then proceeded to say to me, “Mommy, your hair is soooo pretty! I love your Queen Elsa hair!” 

To explain, I had washed my hair the night before and hadn’t yet had the chance to straighten it.  My hair is long and thick and curly and so I straighten it because I honestly don’t know how else to deal with it.  I braid it into a big thick loose braid when its not straight to prevent it from knotting.  I suppose it would look quite a bit like Queen Elsa’s hair to a Frozen obsessed three year old.

I smiled back at her and let her know she has gorgeous hair too.  She doesn’t have my thick, loose wavy curls.  Instead she has an amazing little Afro when its not done up in cornrows. 

I often hear we shouldn’t tell our girls they are pretty.  They will hear it enough from everyone else.  We should focus instead on telling them they are smart, they are capable, they are strong.  Only, I know too well that girls do need to hear they are pretty as much as they need to hear that they are smart, they are capable, they are strong.

I spent much of my school years having my faults pointed out to me on almost a daily basis by my peers.  I had acne, I didn’t wear just the right clothes, I had glasses, I was just a little weird.  The hair my daughter thinks is fit for a Disney Queen?  That was too frizzy, and in fact some girls, who didn’t even know me, thought it would be funny to call me Frizzle for two years straight.  At one point, in grade 7, a friend of mine asked me when I was going to get curves. I’d get asked why I wear a bra.  I’d hear jokes about my “stick legs”. Things only worsened as I hit my ugly duckling phase going into high-school. 

By the time I was in my twenties and finally catching the attention of boys, I was convinced I wasn’t pretty enough.  I thought that boys hitting on me were just playing some kind of cruel joke right out of Carrie.  Admittedly, I was a broken young woman thanks to years of my peers bullying me for my looks and it took too much time for me to snap out of it and feel confident and pretty.


Why I think telling my daughter she is pretty is the most important parenting move I can make, despite what the experts say!

So, as I lay there beside my daughter in bed, as she praised my Disney Queen hair, I started thinking about how soon she would be starting school.  I couldn’t help but feel a little sick right at the pit of my stomach.  I am not afraid of being separated from her.  I am afraid of how other little girls and boys are going to change her.  How they might damage her in ways I cannot see.  My innocent little girl who sees beauty everywhere, laughs so easily, finds joy in everything and loves with every fibre of her being.  I am terrified of those little girls and boys extinguishing her bright and beautiful spirit.

I know I can’t control what others say to her when I am not around, but for now I will do my best to help build her up in every way I can, and will continue to do so all my days.   So yes, I do tell her she is pretty or beautiful or gorgeous.  I tell her she is smart when recites the alphabet, or counts to 20 or recognizes written letters.  I tell her she can do it when she seems unsure of her abilities.  I build her up every single chance I get, careful to never tear her down.


Why I think telling my daughter she is pretty is the most important parenting move I can make, despite what the experts say!

My hope for her and for my younger daughter, Ava, is that they will never encounter bullies, that they will never feel the sting of words against them.  That they will never feel the heartbreak of their best friend turning from them because they aren’t cool enough. More realistically though, I hope that when the world tries to tell them they are not beautiful, that they are strong enough not to let it get to them and damage them.

So no, I do not see the harm in telling my girls they are beautiful when I know soon enough the world is going to tell them otherwise.


Why I think telling my daughter she is pretty is the most important parenting move I can make, despite what the experts say!


25 thoughts on “Why I Tell My Daughter She is Pretty

  1. A great post and I was so sorry to read that you were so picked on as a child. Thankfully you had enough self esteem to see you through this terrible time. One of my daughters was bullied at school too, it was a very difficult time indeed but despite this she too has developed into a caring, loving and successful woman.

    1. I am so glad to hear your daughter thrived despite all that Elizabeth! No doubt that is in part due to having a wonderful Mother! 🙂

  2. I love this post. It really hits home. There isn’t a day I worry that when my little one enters elementary school in a year, she will encounter cruel words. So sensitive and we can only do so much right? So yes – let’s keep telling our little mamas how beautiful they are in and out – and they will remember it during the lost challenging times…

  3. I do not think there is anything wrong with telling your daughter she is pretty. I think people who DON”T tell their daughters that they are pretty are seriously messed up.

  4. Nothing wrong with telling your daughter she’s pretty! You’re the parent, so it’s your choice! She is beautiful, by the way!

  5. I fully believe this philosophy and wish parents of past generations had even had an awareness of it. I mean the roundedness of praise and compliments & including smart, pretty, capable etc. It’s so vitally important, even for boys to be told their handsome. Yes, it may seem shallow but, as a society, how they look is impressed upon them daily. Subsequently, they need to know that, yes, they are pretty & handsome, as well as, bright and effective. Great post!

  6. I also thought anyone who seemed “interested” in me must be playing some prank. A girl should not think she is ONLY her appearance, but she should feel pretty in her own skin too!

  7. I have to say I was a little bit confused by the e-mail tittle I got, “Should you tell your daughter she is pretty?”, I thought to my self what kind of question is that.
    Of course no matter what happened or just in general you should always and every day tell your daughter she is a beautiful and confident girl.

  8. I think you are a wonderful mom!i think it if great that you are telling her that! She is beautiful so why not tell her that! Our children need to know we , their mom’s are their biggest fans! I tell my son he is beautiful and I worry because of the violence that is constantly shoved at boys ,even before he was 2 I had a parent say to me he needs to toughen up! A mom I might add ! I think we need teach our children to respect and honour each other and celebrate our differences as well as our sameness! I too am afraid for him because of the violence and cruelty at schools that just seems to be getting worse.

  9. Yes. Tell your children they are wonderful and beautiful. Build them up as much as you can because the world will tear them down in ways you can never imagine. Tell them they are beautiful and to have patience for those who will try to hurt them with their words. Sometimes innocently and sometimes with malice.

  10. I have two school-aged daughters too, and had the same sick fear when they started school about being bullied. So I decided to fortify them against the pain and anguish that can come from being judged by others by giving them their prettiness/intelligence/strength to manage for themselves. Whenever one of them comes home and says another child has called them a baby/ugly/stupid, instead of fixing it for them right away, I give them a loving hug (message: “Your mom doesn’t agree that you are a baby/ugly/stupid”), look them square in the eye and ask, “Is that true? Are you a baby? What do you know to be true? That is what really matters.” Guess what? After a few quivers of the bottom lip, they usually come out with, “Hey, wait a minute…” Then we discuss ways in which they are really the beautiful creatures they truly are… and end up with a mound of evidence against the name they were called. So the next time someone decides to be mean, my girls are even just a little bit more solid in their own truth, which takes the sting out the encounter.

  11. Beautifully written! I believe all girls should be told they are beautuful, smart and can do anything they want. I have told this to my daughter (now 14) and she now has the best personality!!! She does not care what people think about her and believes she is smart and beautiful. She has more confidence than I could possibly wish for her. keep up the positive encouragement. Your daughters are beautiful!

  12. I love this! I have 2 girls, 9 and 3, and like you I always tell them that they are pretty too. I believe that their confidence is built from our words. If we will not tell them this, who will?

  13. What a great post! I also tell my daughter that she is beautiful (and smart, kind and a hard worker). I don’t remember anyone ever telling me I was was beautiful or pretty as a kid, and having never heard it, it was easy for me to believe the not-so-nice comments from peers later on. I hope that my daughter will have better self-esteem than I did and that she will see herself through my eyes instead of the eyes of kids who choose to be hurtful. Your daughter and beautiful and I think it’s great that you tell her so!

  14. I found these words so interesting…….I often hear we shouldn’t tell our girls they are pretty. They will hear it enough from everyone else……..Well I told my daughter everyday she was beautiful but I also told her everyone else is also beautiful in their own way.I just cant see you being an ugly duckling,I think you are beautiful..Have a lovely weekend !

  15. Continue telling your daughter that she is beautiful-and smart-and can grow up to be the most amazing person. She will be reinforced in her image of herself from the way her parents, her sibling and, hopefully, some of her peers will support and encourage her.
    I had the problem of girls (a few) looking down on me; I was always told that I was smart and that knowledge saved me from being intimidated by other people.
    Helping your child to have self-confidence and loving herself for who she is must be the greatest gift a parent may give a child.

  16. I do not think there is anything wrong with telling your daughter she is pretty,i told my daughter everyday she was beautiful and that i loved her,its what a Mothers does.

  17. This post resonated with me so much. I didn’t have the greatest self-esteem when I was growing up and any bit of reinforcement would have been helpful.

  18. Yes we all need to be told we are attractive. Yes we should also be told about our talents and strengths, but it should not replace also. One should not replace the other. and I would like you to tell your daughter that I think she is remarkably beautiful, her smile is absolutely beautiful!

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