“She’s so pretty!” And I’m SUCH a girl.

photo courtesy of Erica Ann Bader

“Hi, girls!” I said to my friend’s two insanely adorable daughters.  The very two pictured above, in fact.  “You just look so PRETTY today.”

And, really.  How could I help myself?

But… Shoot, shoot, shoot! I said inside my head.  I did it AGAIN!

I read an article recently.  And, CAUTION!  DANGER!  Articles can make you think.

This particular article noted that we greet girls by complimenting their looks.  And we don’t do the same for boys.  It suggested that, rather than succumb to the overwhelming desire to “oh, you’re so cute” our girls to death, we should, perhaps, focus on their minds, their souls, their dreams, and their ambitions.

Oh, the pressure!

“What are you reading these days, Abby?”  I practiced in my bathroom mirror.  “Let’s discuss the European debt crisis, Elsie.”

I swear I tried.  Cross my heart.  Needle in my eye.  All the rest.

I tried.

But I can’t seem to help myself.  It falls out of my mouth.  It falls out of my mouth the same way the four-week-old-tortilla-chip-I-once-found-in-my-car fell out of my mouth, um, after I realized I was eating it.  Quickly.  It fell out quickly.

“You just look so PRETTY today.”

ARGH!

I’d kick myself a little more over this – I am a mom, after all – but, over the last week, I informally polled a few of my girlfriends to find out how they feel about this issue.

This is what they unanimously said:

“BY ALL THAT IS SWEET AND HOLY, DON’T STOP TELLING ME I’M PRETTY.”

So they didn’t care much one way or the other.  Which is exactly the way I feel.

Hold that thought.

Today, I got to talk to a big city news reporter.  It was fun!  Amy Wang, assistant bureau chief for The Oregonian, is a mom, so we covered all the important stuff: poop-smeared walls, showing up at work with booger-covered pants, and the strange truths that all new moms discover.  Like the one about how being a new mama is isolating and lonely.  And that the isolation ends when we toss perfection on its ear and find others who will laugh with us at the inanity of mommin’ life.

Amy and I didn’t know each other before today.  But our conversation was peppered with all of the Yeps, Yesses, Uh Huhs, and For Sures that I’ve come to expect from talking to all of you like-minded moms.

Ready for the “and thens?”  Here we go!

And then Amy wrote this lovely article about our Five Kids blog.

And then some kind and lovely readers, led by my Kim, found Amy’s lovely article and started Facebook-sharing it.  (I just posted a link to the article on the Five Kids Facebook page, too!)

And then I saw this, my friend Sally‘s status message, linked to the article:  Eeeek! My friend Beth was in the Oregonian! If you’ve not checked out her blog, please do… and please vote for her in the contest mentioned in the article. She’s so nice, AND SO PRETTY and and soooooo funny!

Er.

Um.

OK.  Fine!  That AND SO PRETTY emphasis might’ve been just slightly mine.

(Oh, good grief!  I am SUCH a girl.)

(And I have a kiss for your wips, Sally!)

(And THANKS, Amy and Kim!)

(And I won’t really kiss you on the mouth, Sally.  Just in case you were thinking of avoiding me now.)

(Sorry.  I thought I was done with the parenthetical statements, and then I just wasn’t.)

(Anyway…)

I feel that I must, in order to preserve a modicum of truth-telling integrity, reveal the following:

When I was 13, my parents helped me with a science project.  I believe there was screaming involved.  Mostly mine.  I’d say “all mine,” except that I could see some screaming in their eyes.  It wasn’t pretty.

I worked with my eldest on her book report yesterday.  She’s 13.  (She is SO PRETTY.)

My daughter is approximately one gazillion times more mature at 13 than I was at 13. So there was actually ZERO screaming yesterday.  From our mouths.

We took a homework break.  Partly so we could keep things pretty.  But mostly for homework lecturing purposes.  I find that a good lecture frees my mind and soothes my soul.

Rather than listening to the lecture, Abby elected to use her time to preserve a visual record of my eloquent instructions.  Then she chose the color filter she felt best reflected our special time together.

I call it: Screaming From The Eyes.

Or I could call it: I’m SO PRETTY!

You decide.

……….

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
16 comments
  1. You’re pretty.

    1. And you’re an Irish beer model which is something more than pretty. Like GORGEOUS. Or STUNNING. 😉

      Plus, you say nice things. Thanks, Sally!

  2. Every time I read your blog, I hang on your every word. I think it’s because you’re so pretty.

    No, really it’s because you’re so REAL. I like that. And I like to tell little girls that they’re pretty. And I won’t stop. You know why? I think that in today’s society, girls are taught that they need to be something they’re not. I know I’ve fallen victim to that trap more than once. I think if I’d heard a little more often that I was pretty (instead of always only hearing I was smart), it may have done a world of good. As an adult, I still have trouble believing my hubby when he says I’m pretty.

    So, yeah. I’ll keep on saying it. Some little girls (and big girls) just need to hear it.

    1. Yes. What Elizabeth said. So true for me, too.

  3. I’ve noticed that if you say ‘Wow, you look great’ to the most hard-edged, cynical, accomplished professional woman, it will often turn her into a blushing preteen for a moment. As a guy I have to say, it’s kind of cute.

    Great interview in the Oregonian. You came off witty and wise.

    …and your picture looked really pretty.

    1. Aw! Thanks, Webb!

      (And, um – thanks for the other, non-pretty compliments, too. ;))

  4. I’m with Judy. I think it’s okay to tell girls they’re pretty (and boys that they’re handsome!) as long as it isn’t the ONLY thing you say. And then you make sure that they know they’re VALUED just for who they are. I had a person like that in my life: Doris L… (just a little excerpt from an essay I wrote on being a “Jesus Girl.”

    Richard and Doris somehow ended up at church despite obvious ways they didn’t fit in or follow the Christian rules. Richard and Doris smoked (and probably drank some, too), yet they attended church faithfully, more humbly aware of their shortcomings than any of us regular sinners. Doris greeted me at the door every Sunday during my high school years, and always told me I was a beautiful girl. (I didn’t believe her, then, of course, and suspected that she mostly liked me because I was named Paula and her daughter was, too. There just weren’t that many Paulas hanging around in those days.) But something of Doris’s message stuck; I began to see myself as valuable, loved, maybe even a little bit pretty.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Paula! Great story… and Doris sounds like my kinda girl. 😉

  5. I loved the article by Amy Wang online, of The Oregonian. She stated what is so true about your writing about the joys and heartfelt concerns of parenting! You capture the hearts and laughter of so many moms as they charter the waters of parenthood. Job well done. Here’s the URL for the online version of The Oregonian article: http://blog.oregonlive.com/themombeat/2011/10/portland-area_mom_blogger_shoo.html
    I hope all who read it will consider voting for this blog.

    1. Folks, I don’t know how many of you read blog comments, but THIS IS WHY WE HAVE MAMAS.

      Thanks, Mom. I learned it from watching you. 😉

  6. I hope you will continue to tell the girls they are pretty. When I was growing up, no one ever said I was pretty. Even when I looked pretty good. That wasn’t helpful, either. it seriously undermined my self-confidence. But I’m glad to see us all recognize that girls need affirmation in other ways than their looks.

    1. I think my girls are safe. I can’t seem to help myself. 😉 Probably because they’re so pretty!

      And you are, too!

  7. A) Thank you for making me aware of my bad habit of calling girls pretty.
    B) I totally agree with those girls, so I’m going to say something completely unrelated to looks before following up by gushing over their looks. It’s okay if it’s the SECOND thing you say, right? ( :

    1. B! I love option B!

      Discard A: who wants to be aware of bad habits? Overrated, I say.

      PS – just read your son’s recess dilemma. Do update me on how that turns out. TOO funny.

  8. To me it looks more like, “Seriously?!!! You HAVE to be kidding me!”…..but that may just be because that is what is going through my head at times when I wear that expression…. Oh, and for your FYI, it doesn’t look NEARLY as pretty on me.

    1. Oh, I’ve got “seriously” look. I think I’m looking out from underneath a whole lot more furrowed brow. And probably saying things like: Not the TIME to be TAKING PICTURES. Sadly, my older children are starting to see through my Stern Mommy bluffing… so eventually, I may have a photo of that look, too. 😉

      F your I… thanks for reading through, Terri! I’ve noticed & I’m grateful for the comments! Just SO FAR behind in responding.

      B

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