The Vanity of Little Girls

  1. Bennie says:

    There’s literally nothing wrong with barbie books and she’s TWO YEARS OLD. I feel so bad for this little girl having to deal with such a judgmental narrative at such a young age. Magic isn’t real, and books about mermaids and magic don’t even go against the catholic faith anyways. It’s fiction.

    There’s also nothing wrong with being confident and happy with how you look.

    All this talk about “the dangers of vanity” is what’s actually going to destroy your little girl’s self esteem, not a stylized cartoon girl like barbie.
    The idea that seeing your little girl’s confidence and happiness with her looks as a VERY young child strikes you as vain is sickening.

    People are allowed to feel pretty. There is NOTHING wrong with confidence and a reaction like this is EXACTLY what would ruin a child’s self esteem, not a doll.

    The fact that this negativity is coming from her own mother…
    She is beautiful and there’s nothing wrong with her knowing it.
    Speaking as someone who was raised a devout Catholic, there is some good to be found in it. (Like treating people with kindness and compassion, and forgiving people.)

    But on the whole the Catholic faith breeds guilt and unhappiness.
    You’re taught that you are a worthless sinner who deserves death and damnation, and that god supposedly loves you enough in spite of this to forgive you.

    What a toxic and damaging thing to teach to a young child. The Catholic faith teaches us that Jesus takes our punishment for us. What was his punishment? Crucifixion.
    When I was young I was taught that everyone is BORN with “original sin”. How psychotic that we are taught we are already unworthy the moment we are born.
    That by merit of being born human our rightful fate is a painful and violent death. And our very existence has necessitated the torture and murder of this perfect being.
    This religion breeds and creates low self esteem through damaging ideas like this.

    I am not saying this to criticize you harshly, I truly feel sad that people are taught to believe cruel ideas like this and I want people to be happy.
    You deserve to feel good about yourself and so does your daughter. It’s not your fault you were indoctrinated with damaging ideas like this. I hope I didn’t come off too abrasive, I honestly think that Catholicism makes people unhappy and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think what a beautiful little girl needs to know to avoid vanity is some really good role models. You can’t avoid forever all wrong influences (such as those books). What you can do is showing her better role models, for instance telling her the life stories of some female saints that really made the difference by being humble. Many women in the catholic faith history have shown that outside beauty is not what matters the most, and some have even avoid to look pretty: St. Clare, St. Therese, St. Catherine of Siena…

  3. Ashley says:

    I don’t have any answers or advice but wanted to say that I know exactly what you’re saying and feeling. As a mom of three girls……everywhere where we go I hear “your girls are so pretty” or “dad better have a gun ready” or once I even had someone tell me “it doesn’t look like one of them will be the ugly sister.” Ummm what?! It feels ungrateful or rude to tell others to stop the pretty comments, but it does worry me.

    My oldest is six and I’ve really started talking about pretty coming from the inside and being how we act. I’ve tried explaining if we have pretty or fancy clothes, but act mean/rude/etc. Then we are acting ugly.

    And yes, I’m often terrified of the teenage years! 🙂

    • so glad to know my feelings aren’t crazy and that there are other moms out there feeling this way. And seriously, people say the craziest things, right? All the best with your little brood!

  4. Amy @ thesaltstories.com says:

    We have a similar situation in our house. What we are working on now is talking with our family about what the most God glorifying response is to our friends and strangers when they offer compliments. Maybe deciding together. The other thing I am passionate about is offering my daughter role models like the saints. Teaching her to want to be like these holy women.

    • I love this and you get at something that I hadn’t considered. I am terrible (just ask my husband) at taking compliments. I worry about being too proud and then just come off strange or silly. I want to teach my daughter to take a compliment well and know that the beauty is really coming from the inside. Blessings on your family!

  5. Jen K says:

    Such a timely post for me – this is something I’m worried about too (and my daughter is only 2 months old!). I worry that we and our family, friends, an even strangers tell her that she’s ‘pretty’ or ‘cute’ too much. I am working so hard to find other compliments – that she is strong, that she is smart… but I still find myself walking in the door after her nap and asking “how’s my pretty little girl?!” Ugh!

    Without asking you to overshare, I’d love to hear in the future how you and Bernadette handle things!

    • Glad to hear there are other mommies in this boat. It is so tricky! It is always on the tip of my tongue to tell her she is pretty, every time I do her hair or get her dressed. Why is this so ingrained in us? I will definitely keep you posted. All the best with your little girl!

  6. Katherine says:

    Nancy ~ I read your blog regularly. I am a 50 something grandma, but raised a “Beautiful” daughter as well. People would stop us, as they do you, from the time she was tiny all the way through high school, to comment on her beauty. I, too, responded with the “she is just as beautiful inside. I ALWAYS tried to instill in her, the truth that “man looks on her outward appearance, but GOD looks on her heart”. When I realized, again like you, that a monster might be in the making, I began to brag on her characteristic attributes, rather than her physical I’d let her “overhear” me praising her to others. We’d talk about being kind, honest, giving, caring, compassionate – all the things that Jesus was. I read somewhere as a young mom, that telling her how pretty she is, should never be said in the same sentence as “I Love You”. Truth is, we love them, in spite of how beautiful or not they are! AND physical beauty can be snatched up in a heart beat. I always wanted her to know, that her TRUE beauty comes from keeping her heart pure and nestled close to Jesus. This daughter of mine, is now a BEAUTIFUL physician. Caring, compassionate, and kind. Beautiful inside AND out. She is raising 2 young daughters and a son, all under 5 right now. She is also beginning to face the very things you are. Know that hard times WILL come. You will wonder if you are even going to make it. Just remember the best, the most and the only absolute thing you can do, is PRAY!!! LOVE, LOVE reading your blog. Really wish you lived in Central California near us. I think you and my daughter would be great friends!

    • Katherine, thank you so much for taking a minute to share this advise with me–so many gems here. I think for sure I will begin talking regularly about, “man looks on her outward appearance, but GOD looks on her heart”. So good! I think I need to remind myself of that often too! I just love hearing from moms of older daughters that have some advise and perspective to share. I am really “in it” sometimes and it is hard to see the big picture. Thank you for helping me!

  7. Susan says:

    Whenever someone commented to my mother that I was pretty when I was young, she would always smile, say thank you and then beam with pride and say, “The best part is she’s even prettier on the inside. ” It was a simple and powerful way to reinforce what was important to my mother while graciously thanking the complimentor.

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