“How to Talk to Little Girls” by Lisa Bloom

Thanks to Nava Levine-Koren for sending me this important article about how damaging and even dangerous it is when adults comment on young girls physical appearances. Reading this article made me wince since I do this ALL THE TIME. Every time I meet a little girl, pretty much, I gush over her hair or her new dress or her pretty eyes. I thought that this was building up the girl’s confidence, but I realize now that it actually accomplishes quite the opposite…I still think it’s OK sometimes to comment on a girl’s appearance, since for us girls and women it’s so important to our self confidence to know that we are pretty, but I agree that I really, really need to work on doing this less.

How to Talk to Little Girls by Lisa Bloom (reprinted from the Huffington Post)
I went to a dinner party at a friend’s home last weekend, and met her five-year-old daughter for the first time.

Little Maya was all curly brown hair, doe-like dark eyes, and adorable in her shiny pink nightgown. I wanted to squeal, “Maya, you’re so cute! Look at you! Turn around and model that pretty ruffled gown, you gorgeous thing!”

But I didn’t. I squelched myself. As I always bite my tongue when I meet little girls, restraining myself from my first impulse, which is to tell them how darn cute/ pretty/ beautiful/ well-dressed/ well-manicured/ well-coiffed they are.

What’s wrong with that? It’s our culture’s standard talking-to-little-girls icebreaker, isn’t it? And why not give them a sincere compliment to boost their self-esteem? Because they are so darling I just want to burst when I meet them, honestly.

Hold that thought for just a moment.

This week ABC news reported that nearly half of all three- to six-year-old girls worry about being fat. In my book, Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World, I reveal that fifteen to eighteen percent of girls under twelve now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly; eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down; and twenty-five percent of young American women would rather win America’s Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize. Even bright, successful college women say they’d rather be hot than smart. A Miami mom just died from cosmetic surgery, leaving behind two teenagers. This keeps happening, and it breaks my heart.

Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything…

Read the rest of this article

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5 comments

  1. I just had a similar experience celebrating my daughter’s 5th birthday. Her Grandma who isnt religious bought her and my older daughter who is 6 and a half nightgowns that are not modest and they wear them EVERYDAY the minute they get home becasue she kept saying how darling they were (they are sleeveless and low neck and say I LOVE ME on them) we live in israel and my kids dont read english yet, and needless to say my husband wanted to burn them while they were at school but I asked him for a week to figure out something creative..we tell them they have to wear a longsleeve shirt underneath but at every chance they get the put it on without..and Im trying to only complement them when they have a shirt under and also my complements are not -you ook stunning-ather- you look like a Bat Melech- and they say the same to me when i get dresses for shabbos or rosh hodesh. this past year I also made an effort to always dress as if I was going to work each day even if I work from home- not only does this make me feel good it shows them that being dressed as a Bat Melech is a daily gift, – as for the statistics in this article I feel bad for these children who are raised without real spiritual guidance and media censorship- because -this is just the media’s fault for always glamourizing the pop stars/musicians and actors who wear nothing and sell themselves and any self respect they may have on line/tv. If you are subject to these viewings on a daily basis- no matter what you look like your not looking like that, and that is what is considered standard and ideal.

    • Sara–all due respect–I hope you said something to Grandma. If you don’t make it clear that she needs to respect your hashkafa early on, it will be that much harder later. If I were you, I’d lose these in the laundry, or sew sleeves etc onto them.

  2. Great article, thanks for posting it! It is specially relevant for me since I have only one girl amidst four boys, so of course I enjoy all the girlie bits with her. Lots of important food for thought.

  3. Excellent advice in the article. I plan to take this advice b’ezras Hashem and to share it with others. Thank you, Chana Jenny.

  4. I read the rest of the article describes their conversation about the joy of reading books.She made a great point, that it is more appropriate to talk with kids about what intersts them rather than what we perceive about them – like their looks.

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