By Guest Blogger Scott Rigdon, author of the blog Three Five Zero
I have a stunningly beautiful 7 year old daughter. There, I said it! And it didn’t even hurt. I used to lose sleep over raising a daughter alone. I have a strikingly handsome 10 year old son too, but guy stuff comes naturally for he and I. Baby Girl was more of a challenge. I think she’s taught me well, though.
You see, everywhere I look, physical beauty is on sale, for sale, and as far as I can tell our society’s most valuable commodity. Even if that isn’t true, it certainly seems that way. Magazine racks, billboards, any and every advertisement you see… shampoo commercials! All of these things, every day, teaching my Baby Girl she should be pretty above all else. I didn’t give them permission to teach her that. I sternly object. Yet there it is, everywhere, and I can’t change it.
And I can’t lie to her… she sees straight through me. We can’t go to dinner without at least a handful of complete strangers approaching our table to tell her how beautiful she is: “Daddy, why is everyone staring at me?” The truth is that they all think she’s gorgeous. How can I tell her that, though, without reinforcing what the shampoo commercial girls are already forcing on her?
I’ll tell you how. I tell her the truth.
I tell her that she’s pretty inside, and that she has SO much ‘pretty’ on the inside that there isn’t room for it and it spills over to her outsides. But you can’t just say it, you have to mean it! She’s pretty inside because she finds beauty in the darkest places… mushrooms in the woods are beautiful. In the dead of winter she can find the one surviving tiny purple flower in the back yard. The loss of our family dog 2 years ago had a profoundly beautiful meaning to her that humbled me. Balloons aren’t ‘lost’ if you let go of them, they’re just trying to get to balloon heaven and you shouldn’t be sad when you lose one, because it’s gone to be with all the other balloons in the sky. And so on. She’s truly gorgeous inside.
And I look her in the eyes when I say it, so that she can see inside me and know that I mean it. (Not that I could keep her from seeing inside me if I tried…) And I tell her that her eyes are the windows to her beautiful soul, which is why her eyes are so stunning. Because her soul is, and her eyes are just a reflection of that. I really do my best to tell her that all her ‘pretty’ comes from inside. And I truly mean it. It’s how I see both of my children, so it’s an easy ‘sell’ for me to say so.
When we go on dates, I get the door for her, I take her flowers… I get her chair and let her order first. I carry her to bed if she falls asleep on the couch, and I treat her the way I want a husband to treat her. (IF she decides to marry, not that I think she HAS to marry to be happy, but that’s a story for another day…) Any man can do all those things if he’s trying hard enough to impress her. The one that looks her in the eyes and tells her why he finds her gorgeous inside, all the way to her soul, and can explain why he means it while he looks her in the eyes? Maybe, just maybe, he’ll earn the right to ask for her hand. Maybe. That’s the one thing I need to know I’ve taught her before the next time I go to the light! (They let you come back if you’ve got important unfinished business…)
So, shampoo commercial girls, billboard models, and makeup counter girls, you’re all worthy adversaries and at one time I thought you’d all be the death of me and the doom of my Baby Girl’s soul… but I no longer fear you. Do your worst. She’s ready for you.