Monday, February 23, 2015

JODI'S OPINION ON BEAUTY: What we need to stop teaching our daughters and sons

Cinderella and Prince Charming - the handsome prince and beautiful maiden at the ball 

I'm going to step away from the usual child-dog topic for a day and focus on something that bothers me.  A lot.

After thinking about it out of no where, I decided to put my thoughts in writing and share them.

Keep in mind that this is all my opinion.  I am not a licensed psychologist, relationship expert, or anything like that.

I was talking on the phone one day to someone who was complaining about her daughter's boyfriend.  Some of the complaints were legitimate: he stays too late to visit, he doesn't bring her home on time when told what time she has to be home (this is partially the girl's doing), and he doesn't speak much to the parents.  But the biggest complaint about the boyfriend?

"I don't know what she even sees in him! He's not that great looking!"

And cue my forehead slap and eye roll.

Let's step outside the Disney fairy tale world of the beautiful princess meeting a handsome prince living happily ever after, shall we?

I know that our society has been stuck on good looks for centuries.  So, I'm aware of the fact that this one blog post about it will not change the way everyone sees good looks and what kind of people they find attractive.

But what I do want to accomplish with this is to at least get some of you thinking on what things we say on a frequent basis that might be teaching our sons and daughters the wrong thing on how to pick a mate in life.

Cinderella was a beautiful young woman whose heart was also kind.  Prince Charming was a good looking young man who also seemed to be a kind young man. He and Cinderella seemed to destined to be together.  In "Cinderella II," they are just as much in love.

This is not necessarily reflective of real life and relationships in the real world.  Good looks are nice to have, yes.  But they do not guarantee a happy relationship or marriage. They will not guarantee a happy life or being with the perfect person.

I am not saying that "all" good looking people are conceited and selfish, but let's assume for a moment that they are.

How many of you know that guy who is gorgeous? His hair is never out of place.  He flashes that seductive smile that drives the girls crazy and makes them squirm. He dresses better than many other people. He says all the right things.

Rather than thinking that Mr. Dreamy has finally arrived, you should be raising red flags.  If he seems too good to be true, he probably is.  If he spends that much time making himself look good and knows what to say to get a girl to fall for him, his focus is on himself, not his potential girlfriend.  He KNOWS that he's good looking.  He may also think that he's God's gift to women.  If he's selfish and all about himself, do you really think that he'll be faithful?

Again, this is not to say that ALL good looking guys are like this, but it's a common enough characteristic.

And the same with a beautiful girl... she may have Barbie-doll good looks, perfect body, perfect hair, and the best dresser.  However, she may think that she's too good for just anyone.  She may have no problem cutting down another girl that she sees as beneath her.  Conceited, self-centered, and shallow. 

And, yes, not all pretty girls are like that, but it's a common enough occurrence.

This is why we have to watch how often and in what context we bring up another person's good or bad looks.  Your children are listening to what you say, even when they seem like they aren't.  When they hear you say, "What does she even see in him?  She's too pretty to be dating someone as average/overweight/ugly like that guy!" (And vice versa for a good looking guy dating a not-so-good-looking girl.  This can also apply to same-sex couples.)

What message are we getting across?  Good looks should be the #1 priority when seeking a relationship with someone.

There is more to a person than their good looks - or lack of. Maybe there are kind people out there who also happen to be good looking.  However, we need to teach them that it's not everything.

You can still point out if a girl is pretty, but make sure to make an observance (if you can) about how she is acting.  "That girl is pretty, but look at how rude she is to the server."

Here's another: "Look at how beautiful that girl is, and I love it how she's helping the server clean up that water spill at their table."

"That guy is hot, but he seems to be ignoring the girl that he brought with him."

"That's guy over there is gorgeous, and look at how he just opened the door for that elderly couple that just walked in."

"That girl over there isn't that pretty, but they guy with her seems crazy about her!  They seem very much in love."

"That guy who just walked in with that very beautiful girl is kind of heavy, but he's just opened the door for her, pushed her chair in for her, and seems to be very kind to her."

Surely, you can find other examples of what kind of person someone is (or first impressions) other than just their good looks.

And if your son or daughter ends up dating or marrying someone who is not physically beautiful by society's standards, you can bet that your son or daughter found something beautiful inside that person's heart that trumps what any pretty face, perfect body, and flawless hair could ever have. Or maybe that there is nothing on the surface that you can see, but for some reason, that couple just has chemistry that not even they can explain.

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