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Old 05-14-2013, 02:33 PM   #1
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3 yo obsessed with looking "beautiful"

The past couple of months, my almost 4yo dd has become obsessed with looking "beautiful." She almost only wants to wear dresses, preferably pink, and every day asks if she looks beautiful. She's started to not want to wear things that she deems not beautiful enough, too. I've tried just downplaying it, like "yeah, you look nice" very nonchalantly, and I've talked to her about how what makes you a beautiful person is being nice to your friends, etc., but she's still just super into the beautiful looks thing.
Any ideas for getting her past this? I know it's not that big of a deal now, when it's just frilly pink dresses, but I feel like if she stays this obsessed with physical appearances, in a few years it will be weight, having the "right" clothing brands, and all of that.

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Old 05-14-2013, 02:47 PM   #2
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Re: 3 yo obsessed with looking "beautiful"

I don't have a 3 year old yet, but this was me when I was little. Does she like Fancy Nancy? I feel like those books are good at gently poking fun at vanity while still allowing vanity to *be* a bit fun too.

Maybe encourage the idea that of course she's beautiful, very beautiful, but that she's lots of other things as well - I know when I was little, I thought it was very black and white; that being Beautiful was a fulltime job, as it were. I wish someone had told me I could be the Beautiful One and also be the Clever One, and the Kind One and the Funny One (and others could too). Fairy tales (to which I was addicted) are particularly bad here - because the heroine is always "as beautiful as she is good and kind", but it's her beauty that is her most prominent, and prominently attractive feature. Like yeah, yeah, yeah, so she goes back to the Beast, and she's humble and forgiving, but her name is Beauty. There wouldn't be any point to her other qualities if she was not.

Maybe even that being beautiful is not something she has to work on or think about - she just is, full stop. But there are other things that absorb us that we do have to think about, and try hard with - being kind, working hard, making play fun, etc.
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Old 05-14-2013, 02:47 PM   #3
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I think you'll find that 3-4 is when almost every girl starts getting into dress-up play and some do become "obsessed" with being pretty. I wouldn't worry about it to much, but there are a few things you can try to keep her behavior to the "play and pretend" phase:
-Make an effort to praise every other aspect of her behavior - "You climbed the free without any help!" "I'm so proud when you put your own dishes in the dishwasher" "You remember the words to that song, how wonderful. You have a great memory!"
-Examine how you talk about yourself: do you say self-deprecating things without thinking about them? Do you and your SO/DH compliment each other on different facets of yourselves?
-Look for areas of reinforcement: is there a show, person, or activity in her life that might be pushing the idea of beauty too heavily? Is there an opportunity to introduce a different influence, like a book or class, that would help her process the ideas she's dealing with? A good librarian will be able to help you find age-appropriate books that keep beauty in perspective.
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Old 05-14-2013, 02:49 PM   #4
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I went through that until about 2nd grade. Then I wore a dress on very, very few occasions until...well I'm just getting into skirts and dresses again at almost 28. I don't think there is any harm in telling her she looks pretty or beautiful. Like not gushing it but also actually paying a little attention. I think it's good for self confidence. 3 seems a little young for a good understanding of inner beauty.
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Old 05-14-2013, 03:38 PM   #5
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Re: 3 yo obsessed with looking "beautiful"

When she works to look nice, I'd compliment her. When she works to act nice, I'd do it then as well. When she's dressed nicely and not acting nicely, mention something about how she doesn't look as nice on the outside when she's not being nice from the inside.

I love Cinderella. The stepmother and step sisters have the most beautiful clothes, yet their ugly attitudes make them ugly on the inside and out. Cinderella, on the other hand, looks lovely even in her rags, because she has a kind and giving heart.

But I'm more interested in my children being kind, loving, and thoughtful than anything else. Pretty, smart, hard working, high achieving I can take or leave.
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Old 05-14-2013, 03:45 PM   #6
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Good suggestions already.

When she asks if she's beautiful, say 'you are beautiful and smart and capable...' or 'that dress is beautiful, but mommy thinks your smile is even more beautiful' or something. So affirm her, but place emphasis on other attributes.

My 2.5 yo loves being cute. And capable and fun and a whole litany of things we've been teaching her to describe herself. She doesn't understand them yet but it's groundwork for her to see that she's multi-faceted. I think you can make sure she doesn't get overly obsessed with one thing if you don't downplay it, but add to it.
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Old 05-14-2013, 04:11 PM   #7
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My oldest wet through this stage too to the point that one of her punishments was not being able to wear a dress. Once she started school her ideas of acceptable wardrobe changed and she actually asked to wear jeans. I wouldn't worry about it too much. I'd be surprised if it turned into weight and/or other issues. Help her develop confidence in all aspects if her personality.
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Old 05-14-2013, 04:19 PM   #8
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Re: 3 yo obsessed with looking "beautiful"

You know, I used to think the same way about not focusing on looks and so on.

I have come to the conclusion as my oldest girl is very closely approaching the age of 18, that I would rather my girls think they are beautiful than think they are ugly.

I don't want beauty to be a priority and I personally think society focuses too much on looks in general. I don't let my girls wear make up until they are teenagers. But I have decided that a big ego that includes believing she is beautiful is so much less damaging than low self esteem.

SO, honestly, I am going to suggest NOT downplaying it by saying things like "yeah you look nice." It can come across as you not really believing that she is beautiful, which is not your intention.

Just, don't make beauty a big deal. I believe that many times, things don't become a big deal unless we make them a big deal. So, just make other things the bigger deal when they come up. When she dresses up, and asks if she's beautiful, tell her yes, she is very beautiful, and even gush just a bit. But when she draws a picture, or shares or whatever, you gush just a bit more. She will pick up on the difference (eventually.)

Vanity is not a good thing, but I think too many parents (myself included at times) err so far the other direction that we do more harm than good when trying to not raise vain kids.
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Old 05-14-2013, 04:48 PM   #9
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I have to agree with happysmileylady, for the record, I don't have a daughter. I have 2 boys. However, I Ike to put myself in their shoes, and if I asked DH "do I look beautiful" and he said anything less than "you always look beautiful my love" my feelings would be hurt, and I would think " wow, I guess I have to try HARDER" so my advice would be, tell her beautiful what she ISN'T trying. When she's in Jammie's for bed, when she's been playing in the mud. " your so beautiful! Did you know your eyes SPARKLE when you smile?! " but I would definitely not try and avoid the question when she asks.
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:07 PM   #10
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Re: 3 yo obsessed with looking "beautiful"

Quote:
Originally Posted by happysmileylady View Post
You know, I used to think the same way about not focusing on looks and so on.

I have come to the conclusion as my oldest girl is very closely approaching the age of 18, that I would rather my girls think they are beautiful than think they are ugly.

I don't want beauty to be a priority and I personally think society focuses too much on looks in general. I don't let my girls wear make up until they are teenagers. But I have decided that a big ego that includes believing she is beautiful is so much less damaging than low self esteem.

SO, honestly, I am going to suggest NOT downplaying it by saying things like "yeah you look nice." It can come across as you not really believing that she is beautiful, which is not your intention.

Just, don't make beauty a big deal. I believe that many times, things don't become a big deal unless we make them a big deal. So, just make other things the bigger deal when they come up. When she dresses up, and asks if she's beautiful, tell her yes, she is very beautiful, and even gush just a bit. But when she draws a picture, or shares or whatever, you gush just a bit more. She will pick up on the difference (eventually.)

Vanity is not a good thing, but I think too many parents (myself included at times) err so far the other direction that we do more harm than good when trying to not raise vain kids.
That's true, I hadn't thought about the alternative, I guess.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theonenonlymrssmith View Post
I have to agree with happysmileylady, for the record, I don't have a daughter. I have 2 boys. However, I Ike to put myself in their shoes, and if I asked DH "do I look beautiful" and he said anything less than "you always look beautiful my love" my feelings would be hurt, and I would think " wow, I guess I have to try HARDER" so my advice would be, tell her beautiful what she ISN'T trying. When she's in Jammie's for bed, when she's been playing in the mud. " your so beautiful! Did you know your eyes SPARKLE when you smile?! " but I would definitely not try and avoid the question when she asks.
"You always look beautiful" is perfect!

Thanks everyone, I think you're all right that I'm probably making more of it than it really is at this point. She really is a very sweet girl who would be happy to tell anyone else how beautiful they are too, so I guess I don't really need to be worrying about all of this yet. This whole having a daughter thing may be harder than I had originally thought *sigh*.
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