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“She’s pretty, she’ll always be all right”

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Something has been on my mind recently. It was something I heard a father say about his daughter that left me feeling very uncomfortable.

pretty, gender, gender equality, looks, fatherhood, motherhood, fathers, dads, dad, mums, daughters, daughter, sons, girls, boys
The classic #facepalm pose. This is how I was left feeling after I heard it suggested a girl will “always be okay” because she is pretty.

The guy in question is a dad I see socially from time to time. He’s not a life-long friend but an acquaintance I stumble across occasionally.

Discussing how his daughter struggled with some academic subjects, he remarked: “But she’s pretty, she’ll always be all right.”

I was stunned. It was one of those moments where I had to count to 10 before responding. I think my face must have given away what I was thinking as I don’t think I got much further than two before he melted away into the surrounding crowd and left.

The idea that a girl could, in later life, use her looks and trade them for security is anathema to me. Unfortunately, I have known one or two people live by this philosophy and the results, if you will excuse the pun, have always been ugly.

Okay, the guy could have been joking. If so, it really wasn’t a funny joke.

For me, someone who takes positive, involved fatherhood very seriously, it was all the more painful the comment was made by a guy. He was seriously letting the side down. It’s rather like when guys joke about “babysitting” their own children. It reveals an attitude that has to change for us men to be considered equals as parents.

On this occasion a girl was being spoken about. I’d like to think it happens less and less these days, but I can think of men I’ve known lacking in essential life skills thanks to their upbringing. I suspect they were spoiled, the assumption being their mother or wife would be responsible for the domestic aspects of their life. Hardly a good way to prepare a youngster for the ups and downs of adult life.

What do you think of such remarks? Can such a comment be said in jest? Maybe you’ve heard similar yourself. Please leave a comment below, I’d love to know your thoughts.

 

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38 thoughts on ““She’s pretty, she’ll always be all right””

  1. Wow interesting comment but incredibly sad that someone thinks that is what is going to get you though life brilliant post as usual John.
    I have a post this week about dads and babysitting my view is the norm though . We will see.

    1. Look forward to reading your post Nigel! It was a very sad comment. It was the thought process behind it that bothered me most.

  2. It’s shocking. It frustrates me every time anyone sees my daughter they comment on her hair or how pretty she is.

    The other day she was throwing stones around an unused area of the carpark whilst her brother played a match.

    I was impressed with ber throwing action. Everyone else commented on her Hello Kitty wellingtons!

  3. David Shaul - DadvWorld

    If the guy was being serious, I wonder how he’d feel if another man said it about his daughter, or in fact remarked that his daughter is probably thick because she’s pretty, another comment you hear a lot. Comments like this are often meant with no malice, however it all starts from little jokes and comments then people grow up subconsciously accepting these as facts. – Great post John 🙂

    1. Yes David, you’ve pretty much mirrored my thoughts. These things start small and grow. It;s a dreadful attitude to reflect.

  4. Pingback: My Daughter Isn’t a Pretty Girl – OMG its a girl !

  5. Great post John. Alas, I fear that quite a few parents think that the most important attribute their daughter can have is beauty/cuteness/looking cool – basically looking attractive to future suitors. In my experience it’s usually mums who actively promote this – perhaps they are living vicariously through their daughters.

    I don’t think it is considered particularly feminine to be academic and there is always the fall-back that a woman can marry well. A son will have to support his future wife and family so his academic success is considered more important.

    I do remember as a teenager reading an article that said that most dads feared that their daughter would not be beautiful. Surely all dads think their daughter is beautiful?

    1. Regarding your final points, beauty and having good looks / being pretty are two very different things in my opinion. Beauty comes from what is inside as much as appearance. So long as a father or mother appreciate that then all is good!

      In this household, we are not raising daughters who consider cuteness / looking cool to be their greatest attributes. We want strong, independent individuals and we’d have raised sons the same way. This guiys remark suggested looking good and trading off was an acceptable option. Even if it was a poor joke, it’s a dreadful thing to say.

  6. Even if it was a ‘joke’, it would come from a place of belief in it as a concept. It’s terrible anyway, but especially bad because it’s the girl’s father. His view will inform hers. She will possibly think he’s right, that trading on her looks is how she should approach life. And also that this is how men view women. Toxic.

    1. This is what bothered me so much Simon; that it could have come from a belief in a concept. It’s not what was said but the theory behind it. It’s not the type of comment that would ever be made in our household.

  7. I’ve never seen anyone get through life on their looks alone, even those who appear on the surface to be doing so very much aren’t.

    I can understand someone saying that they’re happy their kids are beautiful. But saying that it’s OK for them to fail miserably at school because they are pretty is a very warped way of viewing their child… it suggests the father has very low aspirations for her, which is really sad.

    1. Quite agree Renee. The guy may have been joking but it does suggest there was a more questionable thought process underlying what he said. That is what bothered me so much.

  8. Whenever my wife says or does something stupid, she says “at least I’m still pretty.” Its her way of making a joke at whatever boneheaded thing she did last. I wonder if this guy was embarrassed at how his daughter was doing academically and was making this comment as a way to hide that? People often use humor to hide their insecurity, even if its often not very funny

    1. You may have a point here. I hadn’t thought of it quite like that. Even so, it was not the best thing to say in my opinion.

  9. Mark (TheHonestFather.com)

    I have to admit, I’m not really outraged at this. You’re right that the guy has serious responsibility issues and should get a grip, but only if he was serious, and that’s what I’m doubting. Maybe I’m being too forgiving though, I mean you were there after all so you heard the tone and saw the body language.

    I’d just hate to think this was an actual thought process for him so I’m inclined to give the benefit of the doubt. He’s almost forecasting that she will find a rich man who will not love her for who’s he is but rather for what she looks like.

    Btw, I’ve recently written a post on the dad stereotypes and it touches on that “babysitting” comment people tend to make, feel free to check it out 🙂

    1. I applaud you for being a little more liberal in your views. I simply find it an unacceptable thing to say in the 21st century. Maybe he was joking, but I go with what SImon of Man Vs Pink blog said: it suggests a certain and very unfortunate thought process.

  10. Hmm yes I know a dad who put his own daughter down when he is talking to me about her calling her dumb! I actually saw them at the weekend It transpires that this girl has a friend who’s nickname is ‘slut’??! He allows his daughter to call her friend that! I was stunned. What hope do those girls have? My 10 year old son was with me and I couldn’t wait to get him out of there. I can’t believe parents who don’t teach their kids to respect themselves and each other. Names become labels and kids become the label, Words are dangerous! Great post x

  11. Truth: I’ve made this comment before. I have 4 kids, 2 boys and 2 girls. The 2nd child (oldest girl) is very different from the rest. She was born early, whereas the others were overdue, and she was a beautiful baby, looking more like a doll than the aliens her siblings resembled. She’s also my only child with dark brown hair and dark brown eyes, the others are blue eyed with sandy red hair. She’s a stick, whereas the others are thicker like their dad and I. People have commented on how beautiful she is since birth. Not only do they comment on her beauty, but they also comment on how much she doesn’t look like she belongs to our crew…(yep, I read between the lines on that) And we found out later, she’s also the only one who struggled with developmental delays. When she had to repeat kindergarten, the words came out of my mouth to her father, “Well, at least she’s pretty.” I think it was a bit of a defensive, grasping at straws type of feeling. I don’t know if I’d call it a “joke” but I wasn’t seriously implying that her looks alone were sufficient to get her through life either. I just looked at my own children and the current situation that had been handed to us and called the spade a spade for a second as I processed. Now, when you mentioned the dad saying it, I did feel differently about it. I probably would have been offended had my husband said it. I know it’s a double standard. But anyway, just sharing openly that I’ve uttered those words, and why. It’s compelling to hear your take on it, however.

  12. I hope he doesn’t ever say this within earshot of his daughter.. Thankfully the men in my life wouldn’t dream of saying anything like this – and the ones who did are no longer in it! This is the kind of thing that Grace’s father would probably say but thankfully she has Ross to keep her feet on the ground and understand what a good work ethic is. Thank goodness for men like him and you John. #TheTruthAbout

  13. I hear this a lot about my girls, especially from older gentlemen inparticular, perhaps it’s more of a generational thing? I would never bring up my children to think that their looks will carry them through life, there is a whole lot more than just their beauty and when looks fade there has to be something left to make you stand out from the crowd. #Brilliantblogpost

  14. It’s such a shame that some people still think like this. And I hope, for the girls’ sake, her looks aren’t all she’s got going for her. Is she hardworking? Is she kind? Is she creative? Is she sporty? I understand that not everyone can be academic but there are so many other qualities that can be useful. #BrillBlogPosts

    1. Indeed, a very good point and exceedingly well made. She doesn’t have to be pretty or academic. She can be many, many things and to be limited by looks – or told as much – is just so, so wrong.

  15. It’s definitely not good. Does it apply to boys too? Like, he’s attractive so he’ll do alright? Not sure if it works like that. I’ve always thought that people who have bags and bags of self-confidence are the ones who will do well even if they haven’t done brilliantly academically because they will have the gift of the gab and always land on their feet. I know people like this. Throwing in the gender thing though is a bit shocking – it sets feminism back about 100 years! Thanks for linking up again #thetruthabout

    1. Yeah, it does indeed set feminism back a considerable way. A dreadful way to talk about your own offspring in my opinion. You do, naturally, get male gold diggers. Known or two in my time. I don’t, however, think boys are generally raised that way. Nonetheless, I am prepared to be proven wrong.

  16. Sadly, this doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. I still think that often parents, whether consciously or unconsciously, feel that the top priority for their daughters is to marry well. Marriage is the key to happiness and security.

    I am pleased to say that my parents weren’t of this mind set. Good job really because I ditched my fiancé, but I do have a couple of top class university degrees.

    thanks for this post. It was a thought provoking read.

    Pen x #thetruthabout

    1. Good grief people should not think like that. Sad fact of life it may be, you have to prepare your kids to live independently. They may experience divorce or widowhood in later life after all.

  17. I absolutely hate it when someone says something like this! I think it resonates with me so much as my own Dad refused to support me through 6th Form many moons ago as he said ‘What’s the point of her getting educated, she’s only going to go and get married!’. Thankfully my mum is a strong woman, forced it through and now, 20 years later I am married but only after becoming a Headteacher for several years. I want both my children to fulfil their potential whatever that is, and would never allow my daughter to think that she would every need to or want to get by on her looks! What an antiquated was of thinking and thank goodness we hear it less and less these days! #brillblogposts

    1. Oh gosh, I don’t know what to say about the comments made by your father. If you’ll excuse me for saying so, that’s very sad. I just can’t compute such an outlook. You’re so lucky your mum fought for you. Shows how misplaced such an attitude can be that you went on to be a headteacher.

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