Danielle Symes: Pretty is just a 6 letter word.

Do you call your daughter pretty?

I recently came across a debate on instagram asking parents if they call their daughter ‘pretty’. It’s not something I had ever really thought about but when reading some of the comments I started to think about the words I use to describe Charlie…. cheeky, clever, funny and beautiful are regulars but ‘pretty’ was not something I ever really say to her. That being said, I have absolutely nothing against the word, I think it is more the fact that I just don’t really use that word in my own vocabulary, but it did get me thinking about if I would use that word going forward.

“I think the reason people debate this word is because it is a direct description of a persons appearance, and more often than not, of a girl’s appearance. It doesn’t really embody any other sense of a person other than how they look”

so I totally get why some parents don’t like to use this word. In our family we tend to use the word ‘beautiful’ and I use this word to describe both my son and my daughter. Whether it is a ‘beautiful dress’ or a ‘beautiful painting’ or if I witness them doing something that’s really kind I might say ‘that was a really beautiful thing to do.’ For me ‘beautiful’ just seems to cover so many bases and embodies the entire person.

One of the really interesting arguments I heard for using the word ‘pretty’ was that for some women that came from households where their parents didn’t call them pretty they grew up with insecurities about their looks and never felt like they were attractive enough. I personally grew up in a household with the perfect balance… my mum was a working mum, she would do night shift at the hospital and then take care of us kids during the day. I remember when I was younger another mum said to me ‘your mum is a super hero’ and it wasn’t until later in life that I realised why the woman said that to me. The fierceness in me comes from my mum who always taught me to stand up for myself and that women are just as capable as men. My dad on the other hand is a big old teddy bear. Every dance recital I ever did he would praise me after and tell me that ‘I was the best one on the whole stage!’ At 34 years old he still tells me I am beautiful and ‘pretty’ whenever I see him. Perhaps that’s why I have never thought twice about the word pretty because having the best of both worlds that word never had any particular impact on me.

Like anything, I think it’s all about doing things in moderation. If you never told your daughter she was pretty that could possibly have some effects on her later in life, but on the flip side if you only ever tell your daughter she is pretty and don’t accompany that with words like strong, intelligent and funny then that too could have a negative effect. At the end of the day words are just words and I personally think it’s the message behind the word that is more important.

So would I call my daughter pretty? I don’t see any reason not to. Actions speak louder than words, which my parents proved when I was growing up, and my husband and I will try to do the same for our kids. I won’t let a 6 letter word hold any weight over how Charlie feels about herself… she is ‘pretty’ god damn amazing after all.


You may also like

Eloise Hall, TABOO

Empowering period care

Australia has seen significant strides in the global movement toward menstrual equity, and TABOO has been at the forefront of this battle. As a social

Read More