And what do they find?
Fake breasts, tiny clothes, sexy poses. The phoniness of these Barbie-filled images might actually be easier to combat than the more insidious forms of beauty worship.
You can talk to your daughter about airbrushing and the difference between magazine pictures and real life. But imagine you’re sitting on the couch watching Wimbledon and your daughter hears you say that Anna Kournikova looks good.
Maybe you mean she looks strong, or her serve is on today, or she’s quick off the line, but what your daughter hears is that the tall blonde woman in the mini-skirt “looks good.”
If what you meant was that she’s a great tennis player, then say that. If what you meant was that she’s hot, well, save it for your buddies.
The conflation of beauty with other positive qualities, or the lack of it with negative ones, is where the real confusion begins.
Make sure the women that you admire out loud, be they politicians, movie stars, musicians, or athletes, are being admired for what they do, not how they look.
The flipside is true as well: Hillary Clinton’s “frumpy” haircut has zero to do with her diplomatic skills, so leave it out of the conversation.
This is how you teach your daughter that judging by the cover may be part of our society, and something she will encounter on a daily basis, but it isn’t part of your family’s values.
My dad will read this article and he will wonder if his comment scarred me (it didn’t) or if I’ve been hanging onto it for years (I haven’t).
The truth is, that comment is easily and readily dwarfed by the tens of thousands of positive, confidence-boosting conversations we’ve had.
In thinking about how dads talk to their daughters, his comment stands out only because it was such an anomaly.
I was at a friend’s house once when she emerged from her room in a new dress and her father, from the couch, shrugged and said, “At least you don’t look fat.” I was blown away, but my friend barely blinked; this was par for course in her home.
That sort of active negativity is easy enough to avoid. What’s more challenging, as parents, is to train yourself away from commenting on beauty at all, even in what may feel like the most positive and innocuous of ways.
The world will tell her every day that for women, beauty is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and it’s your job to counter that by offering better metrics of success.
Written by Emily Heist Moss
Originally appeared in The Good Men Project
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