My Thursday column is up at Healthy is the New Skinny this morning. Let’s Talk to Girls about Beauty, Too was written as a response to this generally excellent Lisa Bloom essay at the Huffington Post. An excerpt from my piece today:
…we also need to remember that fashion isn’t the enemy. Cruel and narrow standards and impossible ideals are. Ignoring subjects like clothes and hair does nothing to equip our daughters and little sisters (and, let’s face it, ourselves) to deal with the pressure to look good. All it does is leave many girls feeling shallow for still caring about beauty.
It’s not evidence of superficiality to take an interest in clothes or shoes or make-up. Girls can care about fashion while also caring about books, about sports, about nature, about making a difference in the world. We need to get past the myth that an interest in beauty makes you vain and frivolous. Girls need to be reassured that it’s okay to care about clothes and hair, but they also need reminders that they are valued for so much more than their looks. Let’s lose the false choice that says we either validate little girls for their brains or for their beauty. We need to be fearless about praising both.
This is personal to me. I’m not just a college professor and a writer. I’m also a father to a little girl. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t tell her how beautiful she is. But I also praise her for the other things she does, and as she grows more vocal, I engage her in conversation in a host of other topics. I read to my daughter every night – and I help her pick out her outfit for the following day. My little girl loves clothes as well as books. And I want to encourage her in both passions.