Inside: The importance of teaching daughters to value inner beauty.
“Mom, my friends think I’m pretty!” My daughter said excitedly as she jumped into the car after school.
“Well, that’s really nice,” I said evenly. “How did this come up? Tell me about it,” I asked, as I began driving home.
I’m always very careful, and if I’m honest, a bit leery, when discussing the subject of beauty with my tween daughter.
“Well,” she said, “Some of the girls were having a discussion about who is pretty…”
I tensed a little, because I worry about the pressures girls feel today and the messages they receive from our society.
But it prompted me to think about how to have a conversation about inner beauty, self-worth, and the comparison game.
Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything wrong with girls complimenting each other. There’s nothing bad at all about telling a girl she is pretty.
I simply worry about how much emphasis society puts on physical beauty and the messages young girls learn as a result.
This concept of “how pretty someone is – or is not” is a strong indicator of what our daughters are being taught.
It’s teaching them that girls should be comparing themselves to others and that their worth is tied to how high they rank in terms of “prettiness.”
And even though I hate that topic even came up among these tween girls, I am grateful for the opportunity to have a good and necessary conversation with my daughter about the importance of inner beauty vs. outer beauty.
What is Inner Beauty?
Inner Beauty based on what’s on the inside. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s the most important type of beauty.
It’s the essence of who you are and what you’re about:
Are you a person who spreads love and kindness? Acts with integrity and character? Exudes goodness? Shows perseverance, grace and strength? Do you act with good values?
Basically, your inner beauty is determined by what’s in your heart. It’s what matters most.
Also, your inner beauty is what makes you unique. What are your special talents, interests, and strengths? Is your personality colorful? Subdued? Calm? Comical?
What are your dreams and goals? How are you showing up and what good things are you doing in the world?
Those are the examples of beauty I want my daughter to consider and care about.
What’s Wrong With Outer Beauty?
Nothing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to look your best. Nothing wrong with taking care of your appearance and how you present yourself.
As humans, we are wired this way.
I just think it’s important to change the dialogue around the topic of beauty, especially when we’re teaching our daughters about confidence and self-worth.
In my opinion, we should emphasize inner beauty more and outer beauty less when it comes to raising our daughters. Especially considering the unrealistic standards of beauty that many girls grow up with.
Confidence and Self-Worth From Inner Beauty
I think one way to feel the power of inner beauty is to simply be who you truly are, and then that transcends to outer beauty in the form of confidence and self-worth.
That’s what I’m trying to teach my daughter.
I want her to put her best foot forward and be true to herself, without being concerned about adhering to unrealistic standards or feeling unworthy if she doesn’t fit into society’s standards of beauty.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t teach our daughters that looking presentable and well-groomed doesn’t matter.
But what I am saying is that we shouldn’t be teaching our daughters that their worth is tied to what they wear, how they look, and in particular, who else finds them attractive.
Talk to Your Daughter What Beauty Looks Like
So how do we teach our daughters about inner beauty? How do we show them what beauty looks like?
Here are some approaches I take to teach my daughter about inner beauty:
- Catch your daughter doing something good and praise that behavior. Did she volunteer to help someone? Lift someones’ spirits with a kind word or gesture? Maintain a good attitude in a trying situation?
- Ask her what makes her feel strong. What is she proud of? How does she feel about herself?
- Ask your daughter what qualities her role models have? Why does she admire them? What makes them appealing to her?
- Talk about what makes her happy and brings her joy. Encourage her to do more of those things.
- Ask her about her dreams and goals. Tell her you believe in her and her ability to be whatever she wants. Let her know you are her biggest fan.
- Identify her natural strengths and reinforce those. Is she highly creative? An avid reader? A sports enthusiast? Does she gravitate towards STEM activities or the outdoors? Let her explore a variety of her interests.
- Discuss the beautiful inner qualities of people in your life. We often talk about the good character of the kids she knows at school or in her extra-curricular activities. When I see one of her peers doing something good, I point it out and we talk about why that particular behavior stuck out.
- Don’t put yourself down or criticize yourself harshly in front of her. Be an example that feels good about themselves.
- Talk with her, not at her. And listen to what she says. Let her know her ideas and opinions matter. Start now helping her to develop confidence in what she has to say. Teach your daughter that her voice matters!
- Praise her strengths, accomplishments, and effort!
The Bottom Line About Girls and Inner Beauty
Here’s the bottom line: We should be teaching our daughters that they are beautiful just as they are. Without changing. Without wearing the latest trends, wearing a ton of make-up, or whittling down to the lowest weight.
Young girls should feel beautiful for who they are. That’s the importance of inner beauty.
Historically, our culture has determined and defined standards of beauty. But I’m working to change that view in my own daughter.
I saw this as a reminder to continue talking to my daughter about her inner beauty vs. her outer beauty.
To teach her that she is not to be “ranked” and her physical attributes don’t reflect her worth.
To teach her that her looks are not to be used as a tool for comparison.
And to teach her that everyone is beautiful.