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One child more “attractive” than the other?

(201 Posts)
Shallowhals Sun 12-May-19 09:34:49

Name changed for this one as I hate even typing it but would like some advice.

I have two DDs - an almost three year old and a 20 month old. I obviously think they are both fabulous in every which way.

The (horrendously shallow) issue is that people keep commenting on how “gorgeous/beautiful/pretty” my youngest is and it’s really starting to rub me up the wrong way. We were at a family party yesterday and three people commented at different times and two of those times my older DD was present.

I’m worried she’s starting to notice and I’m not sure how to handle it. Last week her little sister was pretending to talk to her nana on an imaginerary phone, I thought it was adorable and I did say “oh you’re so cute” and DD1 came running out of the living room to exclaim “I’m cute too!” Which of course I told her she was. Generally I try hard to not comment on personal appearance, instead complimenting them on being clever/funny/kind but I fear it’s only a matter of time before they realise that society ranks girls on their appearance more than any other attribute and this saddens me.

I come from a shallow family. Appearance matters enormously. My own mother, who is wonderful with the DC and even tends to favour DD1 if anything, is even guilty of going on about DD2s appearance, so there’s no escaping this.

I only intend on having two DC and I fear them being so close in age will amplify the comparisons and could cause irreparable damage to DD1s self esteem if I don’t handle this properly. I fear their own relationship will be consumed with rivalry too.

Does anyone have any advice how to handle this in the long run? And any advice on what to say when family/friends/strangers comment? I usually complying ignore it/change the subject but I don’t know if that’s the most effective method? Any advice much appreciated!

PeachNut Sun 12-May-19 09:39:17

I have 2 DNs, one of whom is classically beautiful as well as kind and caring. The other is incredibly vivacious and charismatic and that makes her very attractive. It’s lovely to see how individual they are.

I don’t have the mind of family where looks are really mentioned though, so this ‘pretty’ bit was never done when they were young. It would have been horrible.

NoSauce Sun 12-May-19 09:42:02

Are they very different looking or is it because your younger one is cute because of her age?

OwlinaTree Sun 12-May-19 09:43:28

I hear you. I've got a 5yo boy and a 2yo girl, and loads of people comment on how cute, sweet, adorable she is. I know my son will be hearing this.

I think it is because they are little and cute, I'm hoping as they grow it will even out.

I make sure I give my son compliments all the time, but I do try to avoid commenting on children's appearance in general.

We also talk about how it's hard being the oldest sometimes, but better sometimes etc too. One to one time helps - comments that I can't do this with your sister, she's too little/ not careful enough yet etc. This helps his ego.

We can't change how the world will behave towards our children I guess, we have to even it out ourselves. I think I could live with everyone thinking my sister is better than me as long as I didn't think my mum thought that too!

QueenofallIsee Sun 12-May-19 09:44:34

it’s so tough because the sad fact is, if your younger DD is more ‘conventially’ attractive, the world rewards her for it. I have a slightly similar issue with my non identical twin boys as one is always described as handsome - it’s less pervasive with lads though

You can’t stop people and sharply calling them out will underline the subtext to your other daughter more starkly than anything - I make ever effort to describe all of my children in terms not related looks....,clever/smart/kind/generous/loving. A good start is a cheerful ‘thank you, I am blessed with 2 beautiful natured, loving dughters’

Fatted Sun 12-May-19 09:44:44

Ask them to stop it? Surely you can tell your family that it's upsetting for your eldest to see and hear it.

With the random strangers, just respond with 'I know both my children are beautiful/perfect etc'.

Not really the same thing. My eldest is a red head and the only one in our family. I do worry about him getting picked on or teased for his appearance. He hasn't mentioned anything about it yet. But I've always made a big deal of telling him his hair colour is special, he's perfect as he is etc.

Also encourage your DC to see their other talents and qualities as people. That they're kind, smart, well behaved etc.

AfterSchoolWorry Sun 12-May-19 09:45:27

Hmm. I'm the eldest of three girls. I'm very plain and they are both beautiful.

I think I always knew and just came to accept it. I don't think there's any hiding it from the child.

Unfortunately people are thoughtless as well. I'm afraid it's just the way the world is.

LadyOfTheCanyon Sun 12-May-19 09:45:32

Children change immensely over time, and as most babies look a bit "blobby " to me before they get to two or so ( sorry, just my opinion!) could it be that people are overcompensating by saying your youngest is beautiful? I tell people their children are gorgeous automatically even if I think they look like a goblin because it's just what you say, isn't it?

drspouse Sun 12-May-19 09:48:22

I don't like people focussing only on my DD's looks so I tend to add "and she's good at X" or "and look how smart DS looks".

Metalhead Sun 12-May-19 09:50:38

Watching with interest. My older daughter has unfortunately inherited her dad’s very prominent ears and big nose, whereas her little sister didn’t. DD1 hasn’t ever mentioned it yet, but I do worry about her getting picked on when she goes to secondary school. At least she is generally confident and makes friends easily, so hopefully she’ll be ok. I guess all you can do is try and build up their self esteem and teach them that looks are less important than personality and achievement.

Osquito Sun 12-May-19 09:56:22

I would def speak to your family and close friends who do it - I’m sure they’d be ashamed to think of your eldest absorbing this treatment, and there are so many ways to compliment children without involving their appearance. As for others, what pp have suggested ie pointedly replying ‘Thank you, I’m so proud to have two amazing daughters’ etc will have to suffice.

My younger sister and I grew up receiving lots of compliments for features she has that I don’t/I have that she doesn’t, and while I learnt to ignore it all I know it hurt her and really contributed towards some issues she developed later on. Our parents, though very fair to both of us and never making a deal out of our looks themselves, didn’t do enough to address what others said and I know they regret it.

Shallowhals Sun 12-May-19 09:57:01

That did make me chuckle LadyOfTheCanyon grin no she is a “conventionally” beautiful child, they are only saying what they see and I’m sure they mean no harm but it’s just so thoughtless.

Springisallaround Sun 12-May-19 09:57:27

Looks do not stay the same anyway, an excessively cute 18 month old may not be a great beauty when older. Don't worry too much at this stage, keep with the 'what a pair of cuties, I agree' statements and it will work itself out.

elfycat Sun 12-May-19 09:57:42

I've had this. DD1 is very pretty. Various people have commented on me putting her into modelling (over my dead body) over the last 10 years. She was even pretty as a baby and they all look like a constipated Winston Churchill.

DD2 is pretty too, but the first time anyone commented on it was when DD1 was at school and not there for comparison. DD2 is 8 now and knows people comment on her sister (as they did with my prettier sister). DD2 doesn't mind, DD1 finds it embarrassing as she's shy. I was shy as a child and I was glad I wasn't the pretty one.

I try not to comment on their looks. If it does come up I out that looks are based on genetics and nothing they've done themselves. It's OK to know you're pretty but you shouldn't be proud of it, instead there are achievements and attributes that you've worked on and earned that you should feel good about.

As long as you are sensible and grounded about it your DDs will be too.

RaptorWhiskers Sun 12-May-19 09:57:48

I know a lady with two daughters. The oldest is 19, big built and round faced, and looks like her dad. The youngest is 16, naturally skinny with fabulous cheekbones and looks like her mum. It does affect the oldest girl when people praise the youngest and say how stunning she is. And their mum has said she’s seen the oldest cry because her sister always looks fabulous and can wear tiny shorts and crop tops etc. I’m not sure what the solution is - the world praises beautiful women and you can’t change the world. All you can do is impress the idea that looks aren’t everything.

NottonightJosepheen Sun 12-May-19 09:58:12

Children change immensely over time, and as most babies look a bit "blobby " to me before they get to two or so ( sorry, just my opinion!) could it be that people are overcompensating by saying your youngest is beautiful? I tell people their children are gorgeous automatically even if I think they look like a goblin because it's just what you say, isn't it?

True! Children's looks change so much, the 'plainer' child could become a ravishing beauty (or not) and the 'cute' one might become a 'plain' adult or any combination of scenarios.

So, one cultivates a sense of self-esteem, self-worth and self-acceptance. And the unshakeable belief that you, their mother, loves every hair on their head, the very bones of them and you think they're both, collectively and individually, the cutest children ever.
I wouldn't emphasise physical appearance at the expense of character and achievement but every child needs to believe they are beautiful or cute to their parents, I think.

longtimelurkerhelen Sun 12-May-19 10:00:03

Say "oh yes she is taking after her beautiful/gorgeous older beautiful sister" whenever a comment is made about the younger child.

bluebeck Sun 12-May-19 10:00:16

I am one of three sisters - I am the youngest. My eldest sister is staggeringly beautiful. I am fairly pretty. Middle sister, not so much.

I have always been incredibly proud when anyone said anything positive about either of my sisters, including how beautiful eldest is. I never felt that comparison was the thief of joy. They are my sisters!!

Also - your DDs are very very young. They may be very different looking as they mature and this issue will go away of it's own accord. I wouldn't get too hung up on it, but I do agree we should focus less on physical attractiveness, especially in young girls as it can be very fleeting and is meaningless overall.

user1469976617 Sun 12-May-19 10:01:25

This really resonates with me. As one of 7 daughters, growing up, we were always compared on our looks. Admittedly, not so much from our parents but the wider society. Aunts, uncles, strangers - everyone felt the need to comment on who was the ‘most beautiful’.

I can still clearly remember one of my sisters being told how gorgeous she was whilst I was stood next to her and how she would grow up to be stunning. The adult then just looked at me and said nothing. My rational head tells me that looks aren’t important and it is the inside that counts etc. Funnily enough, those comments from childhood still hurt though.

I suppose, what I am saying is that adults need to be more careful what they say.

DonkeyHohtay Sun 12-May-19 10:01:58

Oh I got this too, some people are just really shallow, thick and don't think before opening their big mouth.

My favourite comment was "Oh it's SUCH a pity she has red hair and not gorgeous blonde hair like her sister".

A pointed bitch stare usually shuts them up.

Shallowhals Sun 12-May-19 10:03:00

Yes it’s something similar here Metalhead. DD1 inherited some features of her dad’s that I’m afraid might cause bullying down the line too, ears and very large forehead.

With regards to saying it to family what do I say? I fear mentioning it will give it weight and I feel almost disloyal to DD1 as mentioning it to others is like acknowledging that I think one child is prettier than the other. It’s the reason I delayed writing this thread for so long...

Rabbitmug Sun 12-May-19 10:03:09

Gosh that is hard. Guess you keep praising them both as they grow up for other things rather than their looks. I would definitely bring it to the attention of family and friends.

Osquito Sun 12-May-19 10:03:50

Donkey !!! I’d have blown my top at that, what on EARTH

Catchingbentcoppers Sun 12-May-19 10:03:56

Do you think she's more attractive OP, or is it just that people commenting on this has made you question it? People always commented on how pretty DD was, probably because she was cute and funny. DS was always quieter so less people commented but I never felt myself that one was more attractive than the other, they're just different to each other.

Langrish Sun 12-May-19 10:04:17

I’m surprised how so many people walk on eggshells with their families/friends.

Just tell them, politely, to stop doing it. No need for drama. They might not even realise they are.

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