Pretty Girl Syndrome

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my daughter Faith and I am afraid for her. Faith is arresting in her beauty. While little Kolby is pretty and toddler cute, Faith has an exotic look to her and though she is only eleven years old, the child turns heads.

I worry she will become spoiled, entitled or a diva. People already do things for her and occasionally instead of pitching in to get work done, she stands there helplessly looking too cute to get her hands dirty.

The story of the lady in Britain made me cringe. Here was a lovely woman (at least by British standards) who claimed she was treated differently by her peers. The world retaliated with venom. How dare she claim to be beautiful?

(Apparently, you are only gorgeous if the world tells you so)

I think she had a serious case of “Pretty Girl Syndrome” and it’s the one disease I will move mountains to make sure my girls don’t get.

But I don’t think the British chick was loony –maybe just too arrogant for our liking. I think she was probably on to something.

Treating Pretty Little Girls Differently

From the very beginning, a pretty girl is more sheltered, statistically buckled in to her seat more often, and overly pampered. She will make significantly more money than her less attractive friends and will be perceived as easier to get along with, more loyal, and more intelligent. She will serve less jail time, if any, than those with an ugly mug (i.e. Lindsey Lohan). She will be given more opportunities, from job interviews to sorority memberships and find cooperative people to engage with. In a world obsessed with image, attractive children are both blessed and cursed with expectations.

Dave from New Mexico, has some strong thoughts on this research.

“Like this is a surprise. Beautiful people get more of what they want handed to them, and never have to work as hard for what they do get. They’re more likely to be manipulative, and less likely to be caring, compassionate people. Yes, I’m homely, and I see this every day.”

Underdevelopment of Pretty Little Girls

Because the pretty child is used to excessive attention and extreme complimenting, there may be little incentive to exercise normal social skills of engagement; i.e.-empathy and interest in others. Shallowness may be a result.

Constantly affirmed for beauty, fawned over and coddled, the child may also lose interest in more intellectual pursuits. Over time, she may begin to lack developmental skills in common social situations. Entitlement and a true lack of common sense may be seen in cases where the parents do not intervene and de-emphasize the role of beauty, contradicting the messages of the world.

This is where the Pretty Girl Syndrome can mutate into:

Pretty Dumb Girl Syndrome.

If the attractive little girl happens to be blond and voluptuous, then she will be lumped into the paradigm of a sexual object and men and women will both desire and hate her. Before she opens her mouth, the assumption will be that nothing of any relevance will come out. Now, the pretty girl’s beauty will be used against her. She will face a wall of opposition with people who will refuse to take her seriously. Because she is affirmed for her beauty she may retreat into the role she knows she will be accepted in, and thus ensues a vicious cycle of disengagement in one realm and overcompensation in another. It’s the Marilyn Monroe phenomena or the likes of Paris Hilton; who exploit their own beauty while downplaying their obvious intellect.

My daughter Faith came home the other day with an Abercrombie bikini that looked like a band-aid. My ex-husband and I watched as she tried it on for us and we almost passed out. I don’t want my girl to be affirmed for just her body –I want her to know how much God treasures her heart, how smart and kind she is, how talented and lovely both inside and out.

My husband reminded me I wore a bikini at my fortieth birthday weekend in Palm Springs. I worked out super hard and I wanted to see if I had it in me one last time to rock a two-piece.

“Is it possible your daughter is modeling you in wearing a bikini” Tim suggested.

Ouch! I guess its back to the one piece and her suit will be returned back to the store because the last thing I want is for my girls to define their worth solely on their beauty.

Why is it always the bikini that takes me out? It’s like some last remnant of my youth I hold onto.

What do you think?

Growing up Faith

As we sat down to dinner Monday night of last week, my daughter Faith was on pins and needles.  She wiggled; she squirmed and at one point actually ran out of the room to scream into a pillow.  Her anxiety hinged on the release of the cast list for the upcoming production of the Wizard of Oz. 

“Sometime after seven,” she kept repeating like a robot.  Every second past the hour ticked by in pure agony.

After the meal was cleared, I heard the little ding on my iPhone indicating an email had come in.  I perused the cast list with anticipation, wanting to get first dibs before I shared the good news.  I glanced down and looked for my daughter’s name.  It wasn’t at the top, or the middle and then I started to panic. 

I scrolled and scrolled and somewhere near the bottom Faith’s name showed up as Snowflake and Popular Girl –both non-speaking roles I had never heard of.

What the BAD WORD?

I was more than confused –I was bewildered. I hadn’t been at the audition but I heard through the grapevine Faith had given a solid performance and sang beautifully.  With shuffling feet of regret I took the phone over to Faith and let her read it. 

Her smile was wide and her giggles ecstatic until she couldn’t find her name. 

Dismay spread over Faith’s lovely face.  Tears filled her almond-shaped blue eyes.  She looked up at me and her body started to shake with sobs. 

“Why mommy? Why didn’t I get a good part?” she wailed.

Faith ran up the stairs and slammed the door to her room.  I could hear her heart-wrenching cries and it ripped deep into my gut.  I felt so helpless.  Tim and Kyle and I looked at each other sadly but there were no words to make it better.

I ran upstairs and knocked on her door, slowly moving into the hot pink Roxy themed room she shares with her baby sister.  Faith was hiding under the covers crying with fluffy bunny, teddy bear and a Hello Kitty pillow covering her.  She unearthed her blotchy face and begged to quit the production. 

 
 

After a long drawn out conversation, Faith finally agreed to not make any big decisions until the morning.

Then we rallied.  I made her hot chocolate with a giant mound of whip cream and garnished with a warm Easter Bunny sugar cookie.  Tim ran to the store and came back with a cherry/lemonade Slurpee.

(When in doubt –always go with sugar to cheer up the child)

Eventually the tears stopped and Faith ate her treats quietly and went to bed.

In the morning I hesitantly walked in to her room and she turned and gave me a big confidant smile.  “Mom, I’ve decided to go to rehearsal today.  I’m going to talk to the director about their decision-making process and I’ll do my part to make the show better even if my role is smaller this time.”

I looked around to make sure I had the same kid.  No pre-teen diva in this room.  And then I choked up.

Maturity had descended into our midst.

I started hopping up and down, now energized and exuberant.  “Faith, do you know I am more proud of you than if you have gotten to play Dorothy? You are showing strength of character!  You are amazing!”

Faith’s face lit up like sunshine and she laughed and threw her arms around me. 

I sent her off to school smiling, even though I knew she would have a tough day telling her friends, struggling with emotions and dealing with the inevitable waves of disappointment.

But for a child who has always struggled with self-soothing this time Faith surprised us all.

And even though the play isn’t for a few months, I’m stocking away some funds now for opening night where I plan on having the biggest stinking bouquet known to mankind.

 

Because my Snowflake has STAR written all over her!

 

Flower: Source: google.com via Jess on Pinterest 

 

%d bloggers like this: