I have a friend whom I have known since we were children. A few years ago, a mutual friend shared with me something the first one had told her, and that was that she had never been told she was pretty as a child. Needless to say, we were both appalled. Apparently, her mother thought that would be encouraging vanity, but that's not all that pretty means.
Every day after I finish brushing Alice's hair, she declares herself pretty. I love that she does this. I want her to know that she is the most beautiful girl who ever walked the earth. If he's home, she'll go and show Daddy just how cute she is. Why do I think she's so beautiful? Well, it's not just that Jamie and Mindy are attractive parents with good genes, but that she freely tells us she loves us, likes to share, hugs her dolls with fierce affection, and is genuinely a kind little girl.
As a belly dance teacher, I hear women lamenting the various flaws they perceive, and it saddens me. See, when I look at these women, I don't just see their height or size or hair color; I see the way their hips sway with feminine grace, their easy laughter when encouraging each other, the determination to get that 3/4 shimmy on the left hip as strong as on the right, the fullness of their womanliness shared through their movement. And to me, that is amazingly beautiful.
I hope Alice never forgets that she is pretty, and that pretty goes far, far beyond her sky-blue eyes and soft, white skin. I wish the women in my life could see themselves the way I see them. Yes, I tell them, but I know my words are crowded out or just plain forgotten. And yet, I know that these women, because they have belly dance, have a much more positive view of themselves than the average woman.
And that's why I remind Alice every day that she is pretty.