I remember the first time I held her in my arms, she was so tiny yet her limbs were so long, her skin was tanned despite having never been in direct sunlight, thin strands of white blonde hair covered her scented head and through squinted sapphire blue eyes she appeared to be staring right at me. From the first time I saw her, I knew she was not like my brother and I.
After nearly nine years of images of animals being created on walls by picking off paint (in her defense, it only happened once or twice), from a vendetta against the wearing of clothing of any description (underwear was simply the work of the devil) to endless costume changes and a broad interest in toys and television shows, whether they were for boys or girls, it didn’t matter and it shouldn’t ever matter. In recent years, not a day goes by without interesting but strange conversations taking place, the cat being dressed up, wrapped up and given a variety of odd yet hilarious nicknames and impressions of family members or the brush dance are frequently performed in the evenings.
My little sister isn’t just a funny child, she’s incredibly smart, ambitious and creative, she is such a positive person and she just gets it, she understands things a lot better than most kids her age. She loves to colour pictures and draw her own, she loves reading, Harry Potter and Beast Quest are some of her favourite books and she likes to come up with her own stories too. There is so much more to this child than what she looks like. My other siblings and I used to refer to her as “Tweety” when she was a toddler because of her big blue eyes which at one point looked as though they occupied most of her tiny face and her short blonde hair which was straight but then curled up at the ends. As the years have gone on, she has grown to become more and more beautiful, she is tall, thin, her eyes are a striking shade of blue and her long blonde hair falls past her shoulders while a full fringe and thick eyebrows frame her face. With everything I have said earlier, why is this important? That’s the thing, it isn’t.
Her appearance is not a reflection of the wonderful qualities she possesses, so why should it be the only thing that she is credited for? Why is being ‘pretty’ the only thing little girls are ever given credit for? What happens when they stop hearing it? A pretty face, although a nice thing to have, changes over time, if looks are the only thing we subconsciously encourage children to focus on, it’s going to damage their self esteem when they hear otherwise.
As a young child, I heard all the usual “you’re going to be a real a heartbreaker when you’re older.” “oh isn’t she just gorgeous?!” and so on, so forth. These were nice things to hear, the tone of voice used when saying these things wasn’t always convincing, in some cases, it sounded almost sympathetic. I was not a pretty child, I was a cute one, but not a pretty one and there’s nothing wrong with that, I was only a child! But when what grown ups were telling me differed greatly from the things that other children were telling me, I started to feel self conscious about how I looked, I was teased about my hair, it was frizzy with the odd few curls here and there, big round glasses which made my eyes look large in an unflattering way and losing my baby teeth didn’t do anything to help the situation either. Why did any of this even matter? Why did I feel bad for looking the way I did? There wasn’t anything wrong with it but it was mostly the only thing anyone would comment on.
If there is one good thing that I think came out of it all, I think it was that when I was about thirteen or so, I started to think to myself, ” you know what? You’re not pretty so that means you’re going to have to be something else, if you don’t have many photos of your younger self when you’re old and wrinkly, have something else to be admired for, be someone worth admiring.”
My sister is beautiful, in every single way, she is kind, smart, funny, strong and talented. As she ages, as the physical traits fade, her colourful personality will always be vibrant, it will always be remembered and smiles will always form on the faces of people who think of her when they remember who she was and not what she looked like.
One of the cutest things about her is her confidence, she is proud of herself when she finishes a book or a picture, when she is told that what she has done is so creative and that she is so clever, she puts her hands together over her mouth and as she giggles proudly to herself, her little button nose scrunches up as it did when she would shyly giggle as a toddler. She loves it when someone points out her creativity and it pushes her to come up with new things and to try harder. I am already in awe of the person she is right now and her life hasn’t even fully begun.
Children should not have any concerns about how they look, it does not matter and so many changes have yet to occur, never feel as though you should comment on how a child looks only if they ask you to do so.