I'm aware, that to most of you, the bulk of this post will be read as nagging, bitter and ungrateful. I'm writing it anyways.
There has been a phrase used to describe my daughter since the day she was born. From the first time I heard it I have wished people had used another phrase. The more I keep hearing it (sometimes from the same person - generally a stranger - more than once in the same setting) I want to scream about how much I hate it from the rooftops.
The reason why I have a problem with this phrase should be of no surprise to anyone. The culture that we live in regarding girls and women is a rocky one to say the least. The way that we feel that we are entitled to comment on a girl or woman's looks to the extent that we do really boils down to the fact that we don't know how to talk to girls or women.
I'm not saying that I don't appreciate that you think my daughter is beautiful. I'm saying that I don't care. But the particular phrase above takes the innocent "Oh, my gosh, she's so beautiful!" (which we also get often) a step further.
You're implying that she isn't human. That she isn't a living breathing child sitting right in front of you. That she is somehow so beautiful that she must not be a child, but in fact a doll.
And this isn't just me wanting you to consider my child as a living human being (although that's reason enough). We turn women in inanimate objects all.the.time.
And I refuse to let you turn my 18 month old daughter into anything but the actual living human being that she is. If you need help finding better conversation starters than "You're so pretty!" read this or this.
If we do not change this narrative now we will continue to put our girls and women we know in danger. It's a total mind fuck to go about life feeling like how you look to others is your biggest or most important asset.
What happens on the day she doesn't get this response? How is she supposed to feel about herself then?
Or what happens when she uses those compliments for fuel to her own self-confidence? And she actually comes out strong and secure and loving how she looks? Will she then be reminded (like I was) that girls need to be seen and not heard? Will she then be told (like I was) that she can be confident, but not too confident?
We are setting her up for failure every time we make the conversation about her appearance. Because she is so much more than that.
...like how she uses "Cheez-ITs!" like a curse word
...like how she asks for hugs 7 times in one grocery shopping trip
...like how she still can't say her L's
...like how she dances with her whole body anytime she hears a good tune
...like how she can sit in her room and read to her babies on her own
My daughter is quite literally the most hilarious person I know. She uses her brain in ways that I can't believe are possible at her age. She's strong and kind. She's cheerful and opinionated. She loves fiercely.
And I'll be damned if I let you diminish all of that by calling her a doll baby.