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We tend to compliment our daughters on their looks as a default – if we want them to grow up confident women, we need to re-think this!
My daughter, to you I must apologize
For the compliment I gave you the other day
When I called you “pretty in your dress”, I did not realize
That years of conditioning had made their way
Into this seemingly innocuous comment of mine-
A comment that flawed perceptions did validate
Calling you pretty was an unmistakable sign
That from societal norms I find it difficult to deviate-
In that moment I thought about you in your outfit
Though you were going out for a mathematics quiz
I realized my folly soon- this did not sit
Well with me at all, therefore the self-analysis..
I let you down (and myself too)
I should have focused on your intelligence
Instead I thought about your beauty, it’s true
The wrong attribute again took precedence
To your brother I would not have said
Something similar, my comment would have been
Geared towards his mental capability instead
Yet this is the discrimination I’ve seen
Over and over again, all around me
This behavior is so deeply ingrained
For a female, we think of her outer beauty
First- before we remember she has a brain
Next time I decide to pay a compliment
To a girl- in my choice of words I shall be conscious
I shall think of each field in which she is competent
Only then on physical attributes shall I focus
This is what I shall endeavor to do, my daughter
And if I fail, give me a gentle reminder…
Published here earlier.
Image source: Shuchita Gupta
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I am a woman, a physician, a mother and an aspiring writer rolled into one.
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