After her nap today, Ava plopped herself on the couch, dug in her princess purse and touched up her makeup (pretend makeup mind you - blue eyeshadow for her cheeks (close enough, I say, I am not huge on makeup myself) and bright red lipstick for her lips). Then she turned to me and, very matter-of-fact, said "Am I pretty, Mommy?"
Of course, I said "Yes, Ava. You're very pretty." But, having two little girls, I am very aware that all the princessy girl stuff is just the beginning of body awareness and, with it, the pressure to be perfect, to measure up to the picture that is held up in our society as ideal. Soon it will be Hannah Montana and High School Musical - at least that is what I see the girls a couple of years older into. And then, the pressure at school will start - to be popular, to have the right hair, clothes, etc.
I always try to give my girls compliments that focus on things apart from their appearance - you're very brave, smart, helpful, strong, thoughtful, generous. For me, although it has taken a while, as I have grown older, the highest compliment anyone could pay to me on a physical level is to say I am strong. So I tend to use this one a lot. After all, they ARE strong! I hope my girls will embrace their strength sooner rather than later.
However, I do think it is nice to be told you're pretty. So today, I added, "You're very smart, too. Now go build a robot."