Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What "Pretty" Does Your Daughter Think She Is?

I was having a drink with a friend the other night who has a 15 year old daughter. This mom was lamenting that with all the work our generation of women have done to give our young women opportunity and equality, it still boils down to whether they feel "pretty." This mom explained to me that this current crop of teen women have three categories of pretty. Get ready now and take notes, this was all new to me.

First we have "boy pretty." God do I totally get this one, cause I absolutely was not a "boy pretty" girl. This is the stunner, the hot girl, not necessarily classically beautiful, but has confidence in herself, her body and the way she puts it all out there. These are the girls that if they have it they flaunt it. I had a roommate in college who was definitely "boy pretty" She was tall, but not too tall, gorgeous smile, great posture, blond beautiful hair, knew how to put outfits together to her best advantage,and actually was very curvy, not skinny.  This woman walked into a room, and everyone, man, woman or child took notice.

Second we have "girl pretty." These are the girls who are really beautiful, but don't really know it. They aren't threatening because they still see themselves as just average. They downplay, may be  shy and completely unaware that they are beautiful. That's what makes them so alluring. Natural beauty, no confidence.

And finally we have "life pretty." This is most of us. These are the girls who, you know that when they get into their 20's will be in their prime, but as adolescents, it doesn't all fit together yet. The daughter of my friend, put herself in this category. So it sucks now, cause "life pretty" girls feel in a one down position. Maybe they are just too tall, or too short, or have not had the post puberty growth spurt and have the weight gain and wider hips that will all even out by the time they hit their 20's. They feel awkward and unattractive, and feel the lack of attention from the boys that the "girl and boy pretty" girls get without trying, whether they want it or not.

I was a "life pretty" girl. All my friends in middle and high school were boy/girl pretty. Hence I spent many Saturday nights alone, no prom dates, while my "pretty" friends all were with their boyfriends. It was tough, and I do remember feeling sad a lot of the time. But the good news is that when I hit my late teens, got away from my high school, developed an identity that was not governed by the fads and culture of the town I grew up in, I grew into a young woman with confidence, and maybe "OK pretty.

How we look as woman will always be important, that's just life. Your daughter has defined herself as some kind of pretty. Maybe she is confident and flaunts it, or maybe she is a bundle of self-consciousness, and constantly feels ugly; too fat, too thin, boobs too big, boobs too small, too tall, too short, kinky hair, hair that is too straight, mousy hair, too hairy, hates her nose, thinks her ears stick out too much, has bad skin. My daughter hated her knees! Go figure. There is not much you can do here except..accept. This is what she is feeling now, it won't be what she is feeling forever. Don't rebut everything she says about herself with a "but you are beautiful." She doesn't feel that way, and you're telling her that feels disingenuous to her.

She may show you how "unpretty" she feels by throwing her clothes around her room, especially those new $200 jeans you just bought her to "feel pretty", and now says she hates, and blames you for making her buy them. Don't pay attention to her actions, it's not about the clothes, it's how she is feeling inside. Don't argue with her, and tell her she is being ridiculous, or unappreciative, just go over to her, give her a hug, and say: " I get you're having a bad day, and feel like nothing looks good, I'm so sorry, how can I help?"  And then.... walk away from the room!!

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