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One child more “attractive” than the other?
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Shallowhals · 12/05/2019 09:34

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!

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Mammyloveswine · 12/05/2019 10:05

I have a similar age gap and two.boys... my youngest is an absolute stunner. Huge dark eyes, a full head of bright blonde hair and the cheekiest little smile. He's also quite small so charms everyone.

My 3 year old is a very handsome little boy with beautiful bright blue-eyes but is tall for his age and has a speech delay. He's also prone to temper tantrums/terrible at sharing and i think people focus on the cute little one!

I just make a fuss out of both of them and if anyone comments on the.younger one in earshot.of the older.one i reply "yes i do.make beautiful babies that grow.into handsome big.boys! Just look at Eldest!".

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SidekickSally · 12/05/2019 10:10

What they look like now at this very young age has no bearing on what they'll look like when they're older.

What you'll have to do is ensure that you compensate a little more with the older child praising her and her qualities to equal out the cute baby comments.

Thinking about my own two, this does tend to continue throughout their life - one gets praised for her intelligence alot whilst the other is musically talented and gets praised for that. One is more curvy that the other etc. They will never be the same and nor would I want them to be but praise for different qualities has to be in the same quantity to prevent resentment.

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OhTheRoses · 12/05/2019 10:10

Yes. DS has stunning filmstar looks, barely does a hand's turn for the highest academic results and is sporty and alpha to boot.

DD is rounder, short, still v beautiful, quiet, dyspraxic and was diagnosed with ADHD at 17.

Never mentioned by family but noticed by her and fed her anxiety, depression and flirtation with anorexia.

She is much better now, at a leading Oxbridge college and channelling her inner nerd.

Be mindful of unconscious reactions to the golden child op.

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SerenDippitty · 12/05/2019 10:17

I would not worry about it. You can’t tell at this point how they will compare when older. Younger DD may grow out of her looks. Older one may grow into hers.

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StarShapedWindow · 12/05/2019 10:17

You have to be careful not to overcompensate by making more fuss of the elder one and never mentioning looks to the younger one. My mother did this, she did it with the best of intentions but I grew up thinking my older sibling was the most amazing human to grace the planet and thought nothing of myself. When I was about 16 a boy commented on my looks and I had lots of boys asking for dates etc which I found embarrassing, when I mentioned it to my mother she said ‘well, you know you’ve got a very pretty face!’ - but I didn’t know, I thought I was such a nothing. I wish I had have known because my confidence was so low, probably due to my parents never complimenting me because they were worried about damaging my siblings feelings.

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SerenDippitty · 12/05/2019 10:18

In the meantime keep reassuring older daughter.

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LemonTT · 12/05/2019 10:20

It’s awful when people do that. They clearly don’t have any social grace or emotional intelligence.

Lots of evidence to say a girl and a woman who is told she is pretty will underachieve and that it undermines them professionally.

I mean it just a fluke of genes and nothing to feel proud about. Compliment them for what they do and the choices they make.

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PrincessTiggerlily · 12/05/2019 10:22

Maybe you could dress down DD2. Less of the ribbons and bows so pretty or sweet do not spring to mind. Jeans and t shirt would draw less comment possibly.

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NottonightJosepheen · 12/05/2019 10:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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Sheep90 · 12/05/2019 10:23

My younger brother was always a much cuter child than me, and people would make comments. I don't think it ever really twigged with me- maybe because he was a brother and not a sister. What did stick with me was hearing him constantly told what a good person he is, whereas I was always criticised for flaws. Helping your children to celebrate the good things about their character will always be a good thing.

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Jaz32 · 12/05/2019 10:26

@LemonTT oops I've set my 18 month old dd up for a lifetime of underachieving then as I regularly tell her she's beautiful Grin and has lovely curls, I also tell her she's funny and clever too.... and I tell my boys 8&10 they are handsome, funny, clever, kind etc too!
They all have different features and bits of me/dh and they all have different personalities and strengths too and I comment on all of it not just their looks and I reassure them when one is better at something than the other that we all have our own talents eg oldest son is great at sports and maths and my other son is more creative/artistic and toddler is good at puzzles and colouring lol!

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TheFatberg · 12/05/2019 10:29

I'm sure family would be fine if you said to them "oh we're really trying not to comment on their looks, it's so hard, but I worry about the pressure put on girls to look a certain way. Don't worry, I keep slipping up too, it takes practice."

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81Byerley · 12/05/2019 10:31

There is 17 months between my younger brother and me. I had a very strong memory of my Nana and aunts and mum saying what big beautiful blue eyes he had. I remember the jealousy, and saying "I've got beautiful big eyes as well", and the adults saying "Yes, but they're not as big as D's". It turns out that people were always commenting on my looks. One day someone said to D, who was only 2 1/2, "By, aren't you a beautiful little boy!" and he replied "No I'm not, I'm ugly."

I had an aunt who was a very beautiful child. She got too used to people commenting on her looks, and my Nana started saying to people, "Please don't mention her eyes in front of her" She told me that after that she'd stand by visitors, batting her eyes at them, wondering why they weren't commenting!


We're in our sixties now. It's a shame that people still place such store in looks, instead of complimenting children on the things that really matter, such as character traits and being kind, helpful, etc..

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BigSandyBalls2015 · 12/05/2019 10:32

I had to have a word with MIL about this with my non ID twin girls. She would constantly comment on DT2s appearance and then throw in belatedly how ‘bright’ DT1 was. It’s damaging.

It all came to a head when they were about 14 and we went shopping with MIL and DT2 was ‘scouted’ by a modelling agency, I just calmly took the business card, said we might be in touch/prob not and attempted to walk off ..... MIL was beside herself shrieking to anyone within ear shot ‘I told you she was stunning, she really is beautiful .... blah blah” whilst DT1 stood there feeling shit Angry

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Stiffasaboard · 12/05/2019 10:33

I was at school with two sisters. The eldest was absolutely the most beautiful child ever. The perfect figure, long legs and slim wrists etc- her face was porcelain beauty and she had long wavy blonde hair. She was absolutely breathtaking.

Her sister was chubby, square and had podgy too large features and for some reason her mum cut her dull brown hair into the most awful bowl cut. The difference in them was so great and everyone commented (horrible adults did it in ear shot of us children). The youngest one was quiet but seemed unbothered by people’s thoughts thankfully.

I hadn’t seen either of them for about 30 years when I saw them recently- oh wow.

The older sister was still beautiful but had had four children and a difficult marriage and it showed in her face. She looked haunted and lined and sad and carried herself in the manner of someone worn down.

The youngest - I barely recognised her. She was utterly stunning. Her smile lit up the room, she had confidence oozing and was tall and regal and had the most beautiful flawless skin and full lips. She could have been a famous model.

So it’s far too soon to know what nature will do to them physically or what life will add to their appearance. But confidence and self esteem counts far more in the long run.

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ImNotHappyaboutitPauline · 12/05/2019 10:34

I would definitely ask family and friends to stop. It's not an "admission" that dd1 isn't as pretty, it's pointing out that others are sending that message. Something like "I know you don't mean to but dd1 has picked up on how people compliment DD2s appearance and it's making her feel bad". People don't intend any harm but it's so thoughtless!

It's true that children change as they get older and the "plain" child can end up the stunner but that's not really the point. The concern is that in their formative years they may be treated differently as people subconsciously react more positively to the prettier child and that definitely effects a child's confidence and how they view themselves. No matter what they end up looking like the self esteem issues still exist for that dc whereas the child who grew up being beautiful, even if as an adult they're ordinary, still has all the confidence and self belief they got from being noticed and encouraged and praised by adults through their childhood.

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Jaxhog · 12/05/2019 10:36

Please be careful how you compensate. I was always the 'smart' one, while my DS was 'pretty'. I grew up thinking I was fat and ugly, while she grew up thinking she was 'thick'. Neither was true, but we still worry about it even now.

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SouthWestmom · 12/05/2019 10:37

It's difficult though because you don't want to play down something and make the pretty one feel like she isn't /ruin her self esteem etc.

My dd was stunning as a teen and got spotted several times by agencies. So objectively is attractive.

We used to be 'oh yes aunt Mildred she is so lucky to be gorgeous and did I tell you ds got picked for the school football team? I'm so lucky with the kids etc etc.'

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foreverhanging · 12/05/2019 10:38

I struggle with this. Dd is only 21 months and is an only at the moment and I try to dress her practically for a toddler however everyone always makes comments about her looking like a boy etc (her hair isn't growing very fast). Today I have some elderly in laws coming over and I am BRACING myself for the comments about why isn't she in a dress etc. My dh even tried to get me to dress her in one this morning. What is the point if they are just coming for tea and she will be running around playing. Are girls not allowed to wear jeans and T-shirt's and is her appearance rather than comfort what matters? She is the only granddaughter out of 5 grandchildren so is singled out as the 'beautiful, pretty' one. The in laws try to say things like 'she can't have a car, she's a girl!' (Like the rest of the boys have been bought). Then simultaneously call me fat or a pig. Why can't they say ooh she's very good at climbing/playing/her speech is amazing instead? I do call her beautiful but that's because to me she is, but I also say how clever she is, how funny she is etc.

I'm so worried about when she gets bigger and starts to understand what they're saying. Thankfully we don't see them much.

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kayvade · 12/05/2019 10:40

To the poster her calls herself plain and says she has 2 more conventionally beautiful sisters but that she accepted it, that is great of course but ''accepting it'' can be hard. Not just a switch to filip. Press the button marked acceptance.

I think my 13 year old son is more conventionally attractive than my daughter which is ''the wrong way around'' in society's eyes.

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paintwater · 12/05/2019 10:40

I grew up hearing people (including my own parents) telling my sister endlessly how beautiful/pretty/cool she is. I’d get mocked for the same things she’d get praised for. We’re adults now and it still happens.

I think it’s caused us both problems in different ways. She’s now incredibly self obsessed, spends hours on her appearance each day, and often doesn’t feel like she can go out if she doesn’t look ‘perfect’, whereas I still struggle to ‘let’ myself put effort into my appearance because I used to be ridiculed when I did, and I’ve fallen into a pattern of wearing 3 or 4 outfits of scruffy jeans and jumpers in rotation because I find it hard to feel like it’s worth making the effort.

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NottonightJosepheen · 12/05/2019 10:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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kayvade · 12/05/2019 10:42

@bigsandyballs2015, omg that is awful. Your MIL Shock

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Bluntness100 · 12/05/2019 10:43

I don't think society does value women based on looks more than anything else, it's simply one criteria and the same for men.

As for one child being more attractive than the other you simply can't tell what they will look like when they become adults.

People always tend to think the smallest is the cutest, it's not a slur on the other one, it's just a go to saying.

I really think you're over thinking it if I'm honest.

And I also would strongly recommend against your policy of not discussing or complimenting your kids appearance, as we have seen on here, these women grow up to think they were so hideous their parents couldn't even bring themselves to mention it and it kills their self esteem.

I told my daughter and I still tell my daughter who is now 21 she is gorgeous, intelligent, capable, funny, smart, all the good stuff. I boost her self esteem and it helps raise an all round confident person, not someone who thinks they are the ugly one whose own parents couldn't even bring themselves to pay them a compliment on their appearance.

Be you Male or female, humans value beauty. Pretending that's not true helps no one. It doesn't Change society. It just means you raise a kid who thinks they are the ugly one.

You can compliment your kid on everything, appearance, intelligence, kindness, whatever, it doesn't need to be one or the other.

Change your policy and raise her to feel great about her self on all counts.

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kayvade · 12/05/2019 10:44

It's true, the oh the pretty one, oh the sociable one! none of it is exclusive. But when you're told you're the sociable one it's clear it;s to MAKE UP FOR NOT BEING pretty so it's better to say they're both clever they're both brave they're both pretty - even if obviously there are degrees at play there.

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