In my eyes, Flea is beautiful.
She has eyes that sparkle when she finds something funny, which is roughly every ten seconds. She has hair that’s a thousand different shades of blonde, with a fringe bleached by days in the sun. She’s getting taller and stronger every day, but still retains some of that squishy quality that little kids have.
“You’re gorgeous,” I tell her, a dozen times a day.
“I know,” she replies.
Her confidence in her own attractiveness is something I can only marvel at. In a society where half of girls of Flea’s age worry that they’re too fat, I count my blessings daily that I have a daughter who is blessed with an unshakeable confidence that she is beautiful.
Of course, I don’t JUST tell Flea she’s beautiful. I tell her that she’s kind, and funny, and weirdly talkative. I tell her that I love the way she remembers things that I forget (like where we park the car), and that she’s reliable, and honest.
I tell her the things that make her really beautiful are the things we can’t see.
But the idea that you shouldn’t tell girls they’re physically attractive because it might damage their self-esteem? Doesn’t seem quite right to me.
Of course, the idea that women exist purely for decoration, and are valued only in terms of their appearance is stupid, and sexist, and damaging. But telling girls that there’s no value whatsoever in appreciating the appearance of beauty – wherever it might be – seems equally damaging to me.
I’m not sure I’ve got the perfect answer, or the perfect philosophy here. I’d love to know how other parents approach this issue with their kids.
But in the meantime, when presented with a flash of those green eyes and that cheeky grin, I’m going to keep telling Flea that she’s the most beautiful thing in the world to me.