A few months ago I mentioned the issue of how we talk to young girls. I want to follow up. As parents, teachers, and friends of girls, we try to plant the right ideas in their minds. We fight the messages we grew up with, the ones that tell girls, “It’s important to be pretty.” But are we guilty of conveying the same thing?
Have you ever greeted a child with, "Hey, pretty girl"? What happens in her mind at that moment? Does she feel good about herself? Perhaps. It’s not always bad to compliment how a girl looks.
But when the first thing out of our mouths is a statement about her appearance, a girl learns that adults think being attractive is important. These comments pile up over the years, and their weight shapes the way she thinks. Every music video and magazine rack reinforces the message. On the Internet she can hear it at the click of a mouse. “You are your physical appearance. You are female, and nothing else matters for you.”
Here’s how to fight that mindset. Let the first thing out of your mouth be a comment on her interests, not her looks.
Is she on the playground? Ask, “What’s your favorite thing to climb on?”Are you at her school or in the public library? Ask, “What do you like to read?”
Is she your neighbor? Say, “I see you walking your dog every day. What’s your dog’s name? Do you enjoy taking care of animals?”
These questions show her that we value her and what she thinks. She’ll start to believe us when we say there is more to her than appearance. Please keep this in mind the next time you interact with a girl so we can fight the lies of the culture.
Let’s stop unintentionally aiding and abetting the enemy.