Building Foundations for Confidence:
"As much as we may criticize the appearance-based value system of today's society, we should also take care not to retreat to the other end of the spectrum.
I've heard people say that we should never praise little girls for being cute or stylish. They say that focusing on looks rather than other, more important character traits reinforces society's shallow standards. Thus, we should only compliment their creativity, their wit, etc.
I agree, of course, that a young girl should know she has more to offer the world than a pretty face. But a very real danger also lies in never telling her that she does have a pretty face. Or a nice figure. Or healthy hair.
We are daughters (and sons) of a Heavenly Father. We are made in His image. He has a literal body and He has graciously decided to give us stewardship over our own amazing bodies. It's perfectly appropriate to appreciate the beauty endowed in each of us; we just need to be sure to recognize that beauty comes in many forms and that physical beauty is only one admirable aspect of a human being.
I have three gorgeous nieces. They are spunky, creative, and curious. They are intelligent and funny. They are loving. Yet they are also truly beautiful children, each for various reasons, whether it's bright eyes or curly hair or freckled skin. I tell them constantly that I love them for their creative and fun personalities, but I also remind them often of their physical beauty.
In high school, my parents praised me for my intelligence, academic prowess, and hard work. They also praised me for my big smile, my healthy hair, and my daring fashion sense. I had friends whose parents did not compliment their looks. They felt inadequate and insecure. While I certainly had moments of insecurity about my appearance, I could always look back and treasure my parents' kind words about it. I had a foundation for confidence which my peers sometimes lacked. That's why I tell my nieces they have pretty hair or cute freckles; I want them to have that foundation as well.
We all want to be pretty. I know that's a bold statement, but I hold it to be true. It may not be a top priority, and it shouldn't be, but deep down we all love it when we receive a compliment on our appearance. Going through life believing that you are unattractive is painful. It causes problems like eating disorders and a lack of self-worth. You might say that putting an emphasis on appearances causes these problems. Think about it, though. If you tell a girl she's beautiful, if you let her know that others appreciate her looks, will she feel the compulsion to mutilate her body? Probably not! She will most likely feel a greater desire to take care of it and cultivate a healthy lifestyle.
Let's all be more careful about how we talk to young people, as well as our peers. Let's remember to mingle praise of personality traits with praise of physical appearance. Remember that God sees beauty in us all and that He wants us to recognize that same beauty in others. Neglecting to do so can stir up the same, or even greater, problems than those caused by focusing only on physical appearances."