Parents and family often tell daughters how pretty, attractive, and beautiful they are. I encourage the first and discourage the last two. One sister can be beautiful and the other not, but they can both be pretty and equally loved and without doubt in the mind of the less beautiful.
All females know in their heart of hearts that they are pretty. God designs, Nature endows, and hormones energize them that way. (Some may think they aren’t pretty, but it’s their conscious mind working. They have quit listening to their heart.) When parents and family tell them they are pretty, daughters hear a ringing endorsement of their heart of hearts. They really are pretty, and it confirms their femaleness and self-respect and reinforces their sense of self-importance.
Called pretty inspires no effort to be prettier. Pretty is quite enough to satisfy a girl’s ego. To sustain it, which every female intends, she need only please herself. It’s a personal matter, and mirror time both pleases and further confirms it. Prettiness thus exploited in childhood prepares a girl for a mature adult life. A woman raised to appreciate her own ability to confirm her prettiness possesses high levels of self-respect, -confidence, and -importance.
The prime motivator of women is their need for self-importance. Reinforce that motivator while still underdeveloped and parents (1) strengthen the natural soft-heartedness that makes females extraordinary and (2) toughen female hard-headedness to guard their self-interest. Consequently, telling girls they are pretty makes better females of them and floods them with dynamism to fill any and every female role in society—from daughter and sister to girlfriend and wife and from mother to matriarch.
By telling girls they are pretty, they become indebted to those that proclaim it. They don’t have to know or care how outsiders think. Pretty in their heart and mind is quite sufficient, but they appreciate frequent reinforcement from those they love. As girls, they learn to live up to only their own standards. They don’t have to please those others.
However, that can all be easily lost. Being told they are attractive or beautiful brings in the opposite sex, which isn’t good for girls until they mature enough to handle it.
Attractive and beautiful are female attributes of more than passing interest only to males. Describing a daughter with those terms makes compliments relative, which reduces her worth to herself. She’s attractive or beautiful but to whom? Someone other than herself is involved. Her prettiness isn’t enough, as someone else expects more. Now, before she’s interested in boys, she learns she has a new level of attractiveness or beauty up to which she should rise in order to generate interest among boys. That by itself focuses her on learning to please boys, as if she’s indebted, sometime before they play a vital role in her life.
It’s the old self-fulfilling prophecy at work again. Nice, well-intentioned compliments challenge her to stay attractive and beautiful. She learns to ponder how to do it, and the prophecy fulfills as she succeeds. It implies that a girl’s prettiness isn’t as important as how attractive she is to the opposite sex. De-emphasize her prettiness that way, and it de-emphasizes more.
Not all girls can be convinced they are attractive or beautiful. A few digs or unloveable comments from boys can undo years of parental preachments about her being attractive or beautiful. But with the term pretty reinforced parentally, such digs and even disparaging comments leave intact a young girl’s or woman’s self-respect, sense of importance, and prettiness capable of being reinforced by the next mirror she encounters. She can always fall back on her prettiness.
Let males but not parents and family use these terms, attractive and beautiful. It makes parents and family a bigger anchor in female life to focus on what can never be lost, a daughter’s prettiness. Words matter, and ‘pretty’ far outweighs other terms about the appearance of prepubescent girls.