Not clever, mummy - beautiful

(22 Posts)
AnotherMonkey Wed 22-Jul-15 14:39:24

DD is 3. Just.

She gets herself ready in the morning and enjoys choosing her clothes.

She had some new shoes this week and was excited about wearing them to her nursery session. She picked her clothes to go with her shoes.

She showed me her outfit, clearly pleased with herself and said to me "I'm beautiful mummy!". I agreed. DD says "not clever, mummy, beautiful." I told her she is definitely both but no, apparently she is beautiful.

I'm trying not to read too much into a single incident but I am gutted. (exclamation mark deleted; this is important to me)

Does anyone have advice to help me firmly redress this balance? She's so young.

bunique Wed 22-Jul-15 14:43:23

Your last line is enough - she's young, she felt beautiful - there's no problem here! She knows she can be all those things and more.

AnotherMonkey Wed 22-Jul-15 14:44:47

I had assumed that the enthusiasm for choosing her own outfit was more to do with her insane levels of indepence, rather than a genuine wish to make herself 'beautiful'. So it really took me by surprise.

I don't even mind if 'presentation' is important to her. I do however want to nip the idea that this trumps 'clever' firmly in the bud.

Where does she get that from at this age, for christ's sake. Do you think I actually am interpreting it in a different context?

AnotherMonkey Wed 22-Jul-15 14:45:46

X post, bunique... thanks smile

BitOfFun Wed 22-Jul-15 14:46:19

What do you read to her? A lot of traditional fairy tales stress the beauty of the heroine, but there are stories aimed at young girls which put the emphasis on her being clever and resourceful- I'd start with broadening her cultural reference points in that way.

bunique Wed 22-Jul-15 14:46:39

In the context of choosing an outfit, feeling beautiful seems like a wholly appropriate response. If she was doing a puzzle and declared herself beautiful, that might be something worth pausing over, but I honestly would be letting it go.

BitOfFun Wed 22-Jul-15 14:48:43

Here are a few ideas.

AnnieLewis Wed 22-Jul-15 14:48:44

I've had this from my daughter now aged 4, its worn off a bit now but for a long time girls were pretty (not smart, Mummy) and boys were smart.

I was also floored - she has sure has hell not heard this from me. Maybe nursery, who knows? Maybe there is a story book doing the nursery rounds or something, i don't know. I tried to just ignore it and make light of it but I am very careful about the language I use and the differences between the messages given to her and my son. Its bloody hard, a lot of people comment on her looks, a lot more so than with a boy.

I sympathise but would try and make light and hope that this too shall pass.... grin

bunique Wed 22-Jul-15 14:49:31

A Mighty Girl on Facebook has great reading suggestions for all ages to counter the traditional narrative.

BitOfFun Wed 22-Jul-15 14:52:27

More ideas for her age group.

IssyStark Wed 22-Jul-15 14:58:52

I wouldn't worry too much. In the context of dressing up in clothes she choose, beauty is relevant, cleverness is not.

By way of comparison, yesterday DH was playing upstairs with ds2 who is 3.5yo. They were playing with a Playmobil camper van and putting pans on the hob which ds2 said the mummy could do the cooking on. DH said 'or the daddy' and ds2 was vehement that no, it was the mummy. DH tried again with 'the daddy can cook too' where upon ds countered that 'no he can't, the daddy is lost, the mummy has to cook'. DH remembered that the day before they'd looked in vain for the Playmobil daddy but couldn't find him, cue relief that ds2 wasn't a complete male chauvinist!

Toddlers can be very literal, and that's what i think your dd was doing: cleverness didn't matter because cleverness was not an aspect of appearance.

LassUnparalleled Wed 22-Jul-15 17:09:47

In the context of choosing an outfit, feeling beautiful seems like a wholly appropriate response. If she was doing a puzzle and declared herself beautiful, that might be something worth pausing over,

In the context of choosing an outfit your response of "clever " is far more odd than hers. Most brides get told on their wedding day they look beautiful. They might be clever too but it's not relevant to the context.

laurierf Wed 22-Jul-15 17:49:45

I've had this from my daughter now aged 4, its worn off a bit now but for a long time girls were pretty (not smart, Mummy) and boys were smart

Sorry I haven't used MN much before so I don't know if you're a well known poster… Are you American? Are you sure that 'smart' means clever? Or is this because girls are described as pretty little girls and boys are described as smart young chaps or whatever?

I see a lot of children suffering under the pressure to be 'clever' as much as 'beautiful'. Maybe someone cleverer than me will correct me on this… but isn't it a genetic luck as to whether your 'cleverness' or 'beauty' meets societal norms. You can work at improving what you've got to fit or challenge the mould but I struggle a bit with the idea that 'cleverness' is way more admirable than 'beauty' when there's not actually much you can do about either and because we have quite narrow criteria and assessment tools when it comes to 'cleverness' in the UK/US. I guess some clever people have done a great job of convincing us that a woman's beauty is as, or more, important then her brains confused And I know traditionally women have not been seen as intelligent so it is important to tell your children that boys and girls are as intelligent as one another. Of course I can see how 'cleverness' can be put to better use than 'beauty' too… but I'm still slightly wary of valuing it so much over and beyond things like courage, independence, generosity...

AnotherMonkey Wed 22-Jul-15 18:35:14

Thanks for your replies, there are really interesting responses here. I'm looking forward to following the links later too. I feel reassured that I don't need to worry too much about this.

Just to clarify for the last cpl of posters, the conversation wasn't along the lines of DD 'I'm beautiful', me 'no, you're clever'. It was DD, a propos of nothing other than getting dressed, informing me that she was beautiful. And specifying (with no other input from me than confirming that she did indeed look beautiful) that she was not clever, beautiful.

As laurierf has said, there are so many other qualities that we talk about regularly - kindness, bravery, good sense. It seemed like such a strange qualification to make.

Maybe something earlier had prompted it in her mind and I've forgotten!

AnotherMonkey Wed 22-Jul-15 18:39:07

The books question is interesting but her books tend to be gender neutral, often passed on from older DS, and I can't think of any examples we've read at home which places a big emphasis on beauty.

AnotherMonkey Wed 22-Jul-15 18:40:09

*place

laurierf Wed 22-Jul-15 18:57:57

Is she not just learning that people call her clever when she does something and beautiful when she looks like something? Even if you are careful with the things you praise, she must be getting that message from the world at large.

LassUnparalleled Wed 22-Jul-15 19:31:39

I agree with Laurie. I think you are making a bit too much of this.

AnotherMonkey Wed 22-Jul-15 20:27:19

Well... I do think it's important to be aware of and question moments like this. And I would be disappointed - in myself, more than anything - if my DD grew up considering beauty to be the most important quality.

BUT... I am very happy that the consensus on here is that it's nothing. I'm off to check out those links now grin

laurierf Wed 22-Jul-15 20:49:00

I do think it's important to be aware of and question moments like this

me too! It's amazing how quickly children can go from just getting on with stuff to suddenly going "ugh no that's for boys/girls" when talking about things they previously loved.

But I think at this stage it sounds like she's just being very literal.

Here's a great one I heard from my friend recently… her little one getting to grips with the concept of different sex loos/changing rooms and looking at the symbols…having also been watching and participating in some sport… "but mummy, the lady has only got one leg so she'll never win the race."

Out of the mouth of babes...

AnotherMonkey Wed 22-Jul-15 21:33:40

me too! It's amazing how quickly children can go from just getting on with stuff to suddenly going "ugh no that's for boys/girls" when talking about things they previously loved.

Yes... She talks A LOT about things that her brother isn't allowed to like because he's a boy. It drives me crazy. Interestingly though, while she's bought happily into the world of pink, her views on what she can like and play with are currently not at all limited. There's currently nothing she can't do because she's a girl.

And out of the mouths of babes indeed!! Destined to a life excelling in the sack race.... grin

SweetAndFullOfGrace Thu 23-Jul-15 09:15:26

Do you focus on praising the action rather than the child? Apparently that helps with this kind of toddler tendency to see the world in absolutes, because actions are transitory. So, "you look beautiful today" or "that's a clever thing to do".

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