Later on this evening a friend from college posted this article, that related back exactly to my conversation with my husband about how we plan to raise our daughter to value her mind, more than her image. Before reading this, we had both agreed that we will make all efforts to surround her with a loving environment that praises her mind, and her ideas, rather than putting such a strong emphasis on "how pretty" or "how cute" she is (though we are SURE that she is going to be the CUTEST lil baby EVOR- of course). We want to instill in her from the beginning that we value her thoughts, her input, and her feelings first and foremost.
This article I feel stands the same moral and gender strengthening ground that Jason and I want to provide for our daughter. Imagine a grown woman visiting a friend's house and meeting their 5 year old daughter for the first time and how she would approach meeting her:
"As I always bite my tongue when I meet little girls, restraining myself from my first impulse, which is to tell them how darn cute/ pretty/ beautiful/ well-dressed/ well-manicured/ well-coiffed they are. What’s wrong with that? It’s our culture’s standard talking-to-little-girls icebreaker, isn’t it? And why not give them a sincere compliment to boost their self-esteem? "
Which I feel is so true, and how engrained it is, for us to go back to the default, "Why hello there, aren't you a pretty little thing" when we meet a new little girl. Or to give her some form of compliment that only praises her based on her beauty or her outfit. What the woman in this article goes on to do, is continue to restrain herself from any mention of physical looks, and tells her how nice it is to meet her. Followed by asking her what her favorite book is, and if she likes to read. The little girl (like most kids) love books, and runs up to her room to get her favorite book and reads it out loud to this new friend.
"Not once did we discuss clothes or hair or bodies or who was pretty. It’s surprising how hard it is to stay away from those topics with little girls [...] So, one tiny bit of opposition to a culture that sends all the wrong messages to our girls. One tiny nudge towards valuing female brains. One brief moment of intentional role modeling."
I really like what she says at the end (you might as well just read the whole article since its short and I've pretty much posted the whole thing already haha)-
"Try this the next time you meet a little girl. She may be surprised and unsure at first, because few ask her about her mind, but be patient and stick with it. Ask her what she’s reading. What does she like and dislike, and why? There are no wrong answers. You’re just generating an intelligent conversation that respects her brain. For older girls, ask her about current events issues: pollution, wars, school budgets slashed. What bothers her out there in the world? How would she fix it if she had a magic wand? You may get some intriguing answers. Tell her about your ideas and accomplishments and your favorite books. Model for her what a thinking woman says and does."
I think that it is up to us, and how we talk to our younger generations to help build them up to be the future that we want them to be. It may take a little bit more thought and work on our part to recondition ourselves to see them as thinking, intelligent little people before seeing them as cute, or adorable, but isn't it worth it?