The media frequently pushes the idea that—more than being smart, talented, funny or kind—little girls need to be cute. In television shows for kids, the most well-liked character is often the prettiest (much like in adult television, where the women are physically attractive). We all contribute to the growth of children and it is far better to help young girls to be the best person they can be early in life, rather than dismissing their potential because of their looks.
Instead of telling a girl she is cute, we should ask her what kind of books she likes or what she wants to be when she’s older.
We teach young girls that the most desirable trait to other people is beauty and attractiveness, rather than the stimulation and development of their minds. It teaches young girls that they should focus on being physically pleasing to the people around them, rather than focusing on education and the like. Intelligence, kindness, talent and humor are often left unaccomplished.
We have little girls play with makeup, rather than taking them to bookstores or showing them how to play the violin or the piano. Buying a girl princess dresses is frequently seen as more important than making sure she knows significant historical and contemporary women so they know the importance of representation in media.
By the time a girl has turned seven, she has more than likely had a crush on a boy and is thinking about that rather than being at the top of her class, being good at playing an instrument or reading new books she hasn’t thought about before. Everything that ends up being actually important in life has never even registered in her mind.
So, stop telling little girls they are cute. When you see a young girl at a Christmas party or you see your young cousin over a holiday and she talks to you, ask her about what she likes at school. Ask her if she knows how, or wants to learn how, to play any instruments. Ask her what she likes to do when she’s not at school or if she likes any books. Ask her what she thinks of Michelle Obama and if she says she doesn’t know who that is, tell her!
We all play a part in the socialization of children who are around us. Paradigms of life are created very early, so it’s much easier to teach a young girl to be bright and inquisitive early on than to force her to believe it is important much later in life.