“Mom, I want to be Beautiful”, My Imp told me today.
“This is about my own some-day daughter. When you approach me, already stung-eyed with insecurity, begging, “Mom, will I be pretty?” I will wipe that question from your mouth like cheap lipstick and answer “No, the word pretty is unworthy of everything you will be, and no child of mind will be contained in five letters.
You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing. But you, will never be merely…pretty.” – Kate Makkai
My Imp had her preschool Halloween Party last week. She is four now. Gone are the days of dinosaurs and owls. Now she wants to be “beautiful”. Last year, she chose to be Cinderella. This year, Elsa reins queen.
She already had the costume from when we visited Disney back in February. (Why yes, I will take the 17.99 costume from amazon over the 50$ one sold at the Bibbidi Bobbity Boutique, thank you very much!) I found a coordinating Olaf for her baby brother, and I made the Anna and Kristoff costumes she required of my husband and I- all for less than 30$. Totally winning, right?
Never Merely Pretty
Then she declared that her costume would not be complete without glitter nails and make-up. “And Mommy, I want my hair in my ‘Elsa Braid.'” Once the appropriate princess assembly was finished, she gazed adoringly at her sparkly nails. “Mommy, my teacher will say how beautiful I am.” My heart squeezed in that moment, because of course, she is beautiful. Of course others should tell her how pretty she is. But baby girl, my always baby, you are so so SO much more than beautiful.
“Lyla,” I said, “glitter and sparkles and make-up, this stuff is fun, and it makes you feel fancy. But it is not what makes you beautiful. The way you treat others, your kindness, the way you love your friends and family, THAT is what makes you pretty. Cinderella and Elsa’s kindness and love is what makes them beautiful. Not her dress or her sparkles or her magic. Just like you.”
Now, I’m not sure how much sank in, but I will make sure to tell her every day, ever chance she gets, that she is beautiful. Eventually she will learn that while it is fun to feel fancy, it is her heart that makes her truly beautiful. Women spend so much of our lives being boxed in, categorized- beautiful or not. It is part of the reason why breastfeeding women work so hard to normalize it. Society deemed women only as valuable as our outside package. Breasts are for beauty, not for nurture. Our bodies are valued over our brains, and our hearts. My little princess will never be raised with that mindset.