Raising a Girl In a Filtered World {Teaching Her What Beauty Really Means}


It’s no secret that insecurity will overwhelm us at some point in life. While insecurity is not gender-specific, as a female, there has always existed an umbrella of pressure that makes us feel like we must perform or appear a certain way. Society shows us what the celebrities are wearing and how the wealthy are acting.

In contrast, society shows us the other side of the spectrum. On this spectrum, there is the notion that in order to achieve a certain level of success or attention, you must look the part. I remember growing up searching the Internet for my own inspiration, my own look I felt I needed to achieve. As a “bigger” girl, I fell victim to the term “thinspiration;” the concept of thin being my motivation. Fast forward to this world we live in today… I cannot imagine how my mind would have been betrayed with the age of “filters.”

In a world that is insecurity-prone already, how do we help our girls understand beauty? How do we help them understand real success?


My daughter is at risk and she’s only 3 years old. The little sponge that she is uses the term “pretty” and “beautiful” in ways that she feels is correct. It’s my job as her mother to help her know what these terms really mean. I felt this most prominently this past year when I had to break the news to her that she couldn’t wear her hot pink sweatpants and her pale pink flannel shirt to the park (it was way too warm for that outfit choice). When I told her “no” and explained to her why, she made a statement that stopped me right in my tracks…

“But mommy, I not pretty enough.”

Excuse me, what?

My heart sank and I quickly embraced her with loving arms. I know deeply she didn’t understand the severity of her statement and the power it possessed, but I did. I’ve been there. I’ve felt “not pretty enough.” I think we all have. I think, as parents, we forget how impactful our words can be. Therefore, when my daughter gets ready for church in her cutest attire and I say, “Look how pretty you are,” I am giving her the idea that in order to be pretty, she must look a certain way. *Gasp*

Am I feeding this insecure behavior at the ripe age of just a toddler? I think we do sometimes, and it’s not on purpose. It’s our mama nature to talk up our children and make them feel good, but what we don’t see are the effects of it when their little minds start to imagine and connect our words with reality. Just like our words are powerhouses, the media-driven world we live in is worse. Side-by-side pictures of a natural photo of a woman with her photo that is filtered will show complete symmetry in her face, maybe a slimmer appearance, a face with make-up and flawless skin. These filters and our words can be the turning point in our little ladies’ lives.

So in a world full of filters, let’s exaggerate our girls’ strength – today and every day. Our girls’ humor. Our girls’ talents and interests. When my toddler comes out of her room dressed in her Sunday best, let me compliment her on her creativity or her genuine personality. We have to start early; teaching our children that beauty is not just outward. That beauty is not the equivalent to our success, and beauty is certainly not found in a filter.