ranch life

It’s Okay to Be Called Pretty


I read an article a few months ago called “13 Things You Wish People Would Say to Your Daughter Instead of “Aren’t You Pretty?”. This was sometime after we had found out that we were in fact expecting a little girl, and this caught my attention as another thing I was supposed to worry about as far as raising a girl. Here’s the main gist– it was a run down on how parents wished strangers wouldn’t tell their young daughters they are pretty as a conversation starter because it causes girls to place all value in outward beauty, rather than encouraging girls to see the value of other, more “important” qualities. By calling her “pretty” instead of “intelligent”, “helpful”, “kind”, “generous”, etcetera, etcetera, you are basically stunting her potential to be anything more than pretty. They project that by calling little girls pretty, you are in fact instilling in them that this is the most important thing and the only thing she can be.


A week or so ago, I was playing with Olivia and talking to her. Talking to your baby, regardless of the fact that they can’t talk back yet, is still crucial for language development. While I was talking to her, I found myself saying “Aren’t you pretty?”, and “You’re Mama’s pretty girl!”. I stopped for a second, and thought about that article. So, instead, I started telling her “Aren’t you so kind?”, and “You’re Mama’s intelligent girl!” in that obnoxious baby voice that everyone uses around every child.

Not quite the same, y’all.

So, here’s the thing. Obviously, I think my child is beautiful. And when I tell her she’s my pretty girl, I whole-heartedly believe that she will have so much more going for her than her looks. But, when it comes down to it, I think it’s okay to be pretty and be called pretty because here’s my definition of pretty:

Pretty is being kind.

Pretty is being thoughtful and considerate of others.

Pretty is making wise and well-thought-out decisions.

Pretty is including others and making others feel valued.

Pretty is being selfless and putting the needs of others before yourself.

Pretty is being strong and being able to defend your thoughts and beliefs.

Pretty is being happy and spreading joy to those around you.

Being “pretty” is so much more than how one looks. I mean, how many times have we run across a person who looks “pretty” on the outside, but they are very unkind or very unfriendly and it immediately changes how they look to you? As we say in the South, and as I heard my entire childhood, pretty is as pretty does.



So, as she gets older, I won’t care if random people tell Olivia she’s pretty instead of “helpful” or “resilient” or some other random trait the people of that article mentioned (even though those are good traits, and I hope she exhibits those as well). If someone feels that she is pretty and tells her so, I want her to accept the compliment with grace and appreciation, and know exactly what that means— that she is kind, intelligent, thoughtful, considerate, strong and joyful, and her exhibition of those qualities is what makes her look pretty. She won’t be taught to fish for compliments, or that what others say about or to her is all that defines her- she is a daughter of the most high King, and that is the only opinion that matters. But I want her to know that being called pretty shouldn’t be taken as an insult insinuating all that she isn’t. In fact, it’s a compliment encompassing all that she is and can be. After all, as Audrey Hepburn once said, “Happy girls are the prettiest.”



Photography by Olive Tree Photography/ Corie Williams {www.olivetreephotos.com}










4 thoughts on “It’s Okay to Be Called Pretty

  1. What a perfect response to this whole issue! Growing up in the Bluegrass, my grandmothers, aunts, great-aunts and grandfathers took great care to show by example just what “pretty” is. Both of my grandmothers were truly beautiful inside and outside and such wonderful role-models.

    And now, as a grandmother to lovely little identical twin granddaughters (after raising two terrific sons and helping raise lots of nieces), I unapologetically tell our Little Jelly and ButterBeans, they are such pretty girls. Reading this entry supports my new role as a grandmama and continues a fine tradition of loving and raising bright, kind, charming, strong and pretty girls that grow up into incredible women. Pretty is as prettty does, and you are a wonderful example.

    Take care,
    MamaJo (Jennifer)

  2. Thank you!! I’ve gotten so weary of the media these days making “pretty” out to be such an insult. It’s not! Not when we have the right definition of “pretty”. Thank you for your comment! I know you are a wonderful example for every little girl you encounter!

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