I came across the article How To Talk To Little Girls by Lisa Bloom via A Cup of Jo. The article encourages adults to ask little girls about ideas and books, instead of complimenting their looks. It says that the when their appearance is the first thing you notice, it teaches them that looks are more important than anything. It starts ingraining society's imperative for girls to look good - leading to gradeschool girls dieting, highschoolers wanting boob jobs and girls in their 20's getting Botox. As opposed to a life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for a woman's thoughts and accomplishments.
At first I thought it might be extreme to think that our culture's standard conversation-starters with 5-year-old girls are to blame for the emotional problems of women today that are borne out of physical expectations of society. But when I thought about it, I realized my own first impulse - when I meet a little girl - is to compliment her on how pretty she looks or how pretty her dress or bow or shoes are. Neither have I had a meaningful conversation with these little girls. Even the follow-up questions have been, admittedly, pretty superficial.
What about you? If you met this little girl, would you be able to resist talking about her pretty princess skirt or her adorable striped socks?
Or this girl's stylish fashionista outfit? And that she need not be shy because she's looking awfully chic?
Or this girl's chic hat & boots and adorably cute curly hair & red lips?
Or this girl's doe-like dark eyes and her super cute rosy cheeks?
I'd have to bite my tongue to keep from talking about these superficial (albeit honest) topics. So next time I meet a little girl, I resolve to have a real, meaningful conversation with her. Here are some intelligent conversation-starters, according to Lisa Bloom and Joanna Goddard (of A Cup of Jo):
- Do you like to read? What's your favorite book? (And the idea here is for the grown-up to also talk about a book she's read recently. To contribute to this real conversation.)
- Did you go swimming this summer? What did you do last weekend?
- Do you like animals? What's your favorite animal?
- Do you know any jokes?
Lisa Bloom ends her article with "Here's to changing the world, one little girl at a time." The cynic in me is apprehensive... I doubt this is the sole solution. But I am certainly NOT going to continue contributing to the problem with my old superficial compliments. I will definitely start talking to girls about their thoughts and ideas. And maybe, I can change a girl's life, one conversation at a time.