My post last week, Sammy, about my visit with Valerie from last year, sparked some more thoughts about girls. See, Valerie is one of those little girls that everyone comments on. Last year, whenever ladies came into my room to volunteer, work with students, drop something off, etc. anyone who saw Valerie would comment on her appearance. She’s just strikingly beautiful and people always noticed.

This is why I always tried to encourage Valerie to work hard and understand how smart she was (and still is). In my short time as an educator, I’ve seen too many girls, that for one reason or another (really, can someone explain this to me?) thought being ‘pretty’ or ‘cute’ was the most important thing in their lives.

Here are a few suggestions for the parents of little girls… I hope I’m not stepping on any toes here, but here goes.

  1. Spend as much time reading and writing with your little girl as you do combing her hair, teaching her about makeup, or talking about the way she looks.
  2. Remind your daughters they can grow up to be anything… I mean anything they want to.
  3. Actively listen to girls’ voices, opinions, and ideas. Remember to recognize accomplishments.
  4. Statistics show young girls are more worried about being teased than being violently attacked. Talk about bullying. Know your daughter’s friends. Stay involved.
  5. A little less Britney and a little more Adele.
  6. Resist jumping to “fix” things for girls; empower her to discuss struggles, and problem solve; show her you believe she has the ability to handle her life; discuss ways to approach struggles, and ask what you can do to help support her through the process.
  7. I haven’t kept a record, but I see far more t-shirts that say ‘Cutie Pie’ or ‘Pretty Princess’ with cutesy pink and purple kittens and cupcakes on them than t-shirts that say ‘Girl Power!’ or ‘Anything boys can do girls can do better’ – although for the record, one little girl in my class this year owns both of the latter and she rocks.
  8. Compliment your daughter on her reading, writing, athletic abilities, friendships… things other than looks.

Obviously, our society places a high value on appearance and parents have an uphill battle ahead of them. Teachers and other adults in the lives of young girls can help too… it really does take a village and we owe it to our girls to show them the value of what real beauty means… it’s on the inside.

Resources for empowering girls (and sites that helped me with this post):
Girls Know More
Girl Scouts of America