Girls Going Places Scholarship | …

I believe that a lot of the self esteem and body image problems that we have are due to a society that values superficial excess, thrills and glamor as the path to epicureanism. Everything has to be a series of rapid succession shocks; our society values sensation and emotion over contemplation and intellect. People, particularly girls, want to be valued by a group, and will work hard to be valued by a group, even if that is self-destructive. They want to be admired, desired and powerful. The way our society goes about achieving these goals is unhealthy and self-destructive. That isn’t going to change by not telling little girls they are pretty, because they are always going want to be regarded as pretty.

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If you go around and never tell a girl you think she’s pretty or like her hair/clothing/etc, that girl is going to think you think she is ugly. Yes, you should not fixate on her looks, but a simple compliment goes a long way. Children are smart. They learn social cues and behavior long before they are mobile and communicating. Their first social smile is around 3 months. A kid knows from a very early age what it means to visually get someones attention and how much attractiveness plays a part. You cant just pretend its not there, either. Two dogs at the park, one is in need of a bath, the other is a complete furball, everyone loves on the furball. There are two kids at the park, one is average in appearance, the other has long ringlet curls, bright eyes, and a great smile. More people talk to the second child. There are a group of teen girls and a group of teen boys at the park. One (maybe two) of the girls is decidedly the prettiest and the boys are doing everything to earn her attention while the less pretty girls are being ignored. A child is going to become acutely aware when adults stop complimenting her appearance.

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Lynn, I think this is a good point. We shouldn’t overemphasize appearance with young girls, but appearance IS a component of how you influence other people. We shouldn’t teach anyone that their value is solely in their appearance, but I think we definitely should equip them with the tools they need to use appearance to its best advantage. So when my hypothetical future daughter goes out on the field to beat the opposing team, I can tell her that a determined face and stance are good visual weapons to convey dominance. When she goes for a job interview, I can advise her that studies have shown that women wearing a certain amount of makeup are perceived as more competent, and we can shop for sharp, professional working clothes together. And when she’s going out on dates, or places where she might meet single people she’s interested in, I can teach her about how to show off her good looks to pique a potential partner’s interest, so she can then reel him/her in with the rest of her attractive traits (her personality, her brain, her values, etc.). But in all those cases, appearance should be treated as just one more tool that you use in order to achieve your goals, not something that defines you.

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