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Being beautiful


“Mommy, mommy, am I pretty?”

“Mmm hmm,” I nodded, glancing at my little girl and then back to my laptop.

“You’re not looking. See?” She held my cheeks with both her hands and turned my head towards her to make sure I was really looking.

Now that she had my full attention, she looked just a little bit shy as she ran her hand across the favorite dressy dress that she had on. I thought I had forgotten about an outing we had planned because she was all dolled up like a little fashionista.

“Very pretty, princess. But we’re not going out today though, mommy has some work to do,” I said.

“I know. I just like to wear this at home.”

Ok, it was way too dressy for an afternoon that we were going to spend not leaving the house. Maybe she was doing the Downton Abbey thing of dressing up for dinner at home but dinner was not for another 3 hours so it was probably more likely that she was really just enjoying this. Dressing up for no reason at all except that it was fun.

And I realized that I was in unchartered territory. I don’t think I thought much about being pretty at her age and even when I did fully grasp the concept years later, it always seemed like such a pointless endeavor to spend my time twirling around in a frilly dress. I had far better things to do – books to read, music to discover, places to explore, adventures to be had. I was a total nerd that way. I even had a pair of super thick, perfectly round black plastic glasses to complete the nerd look. This whole dressing up for nothing concept was foreign to me.

“Let me take a proper look,” I said. “I think you’re gorgeous, sweetheart.”

She beamed.

I wasn’t quite sure how to take it from there. I wanted to tell her that there’s more to life than looking pretty and that she is so much more than just her looks. That pretty dresses are great but it’s more important to be beautiful on the inside, that sort of thing. But I had a feeling it was something she already knew.

In most other aspects, she’s a lot like me. She loves stories, adventures, sports, the great outdoors. The only difference is that she also loves to dress up as well. Dresses, accessories, tiaras, make up, nail polish, she loved them all. For a 4-year-old, she’s got quite an eye for outfits, often better than I do.

I pulled her up onto my lap and said, “You know you’re beautiful all the time, right? Even when you’re not wearing a pretty dress.”

“Even when I’m in my jammies?” she asked.

“Uh huh. Even when you’re in your jammies, you’re super duper beautiful.”

“Jammies are not beautiful…” she giggled.

“Well, when you’re beautiful inside, you’ll always be beautiful no matter what you’re wearing.”

“I know,” she said, nodding. “But I like to wear dresses sometimes too. Can I, can I?”

“Of course you can, baby girl.”

This, having a dressy girly girl, it’s all new to me. I always thought that girls who spent far too much time on how they look all had a bit of bimbo in them and I want my daughter to grow up to be so much more. To have adventures, to spend her time curled up with books, to learn about being kind and brave and compassionate even if it means getting her hands dirty. But I guess dressing up is her way of expressing her individuality and I didn’t want to squash that either.

We’ll just have to figure this out together.