In Defense of the "Plain" Girl
One Mom's rant about a dangerous post
An article came out on the honey.Nine.com.au website called "I'll admit it: I favour my 'pretty' daughter over my 'plain' daughter. It basically catalogs the many ways in which this mom favors the child she considers "stunning," (Tess) to the detriment of the one who she casts aside (Alexia).
I was that plain girl. Boys wouldn't look at me the same way they would the gorgeous blondes or the exotic dark-haired girls. I had plain, dirt brown hair, brown eyes, a huge forehead… It bothered me, and believe me, I noticed from a young age. The problem wasn't that I was being picked on for being plain, nor did I have terribly low self-esteem, I just didn't have that conventionally pretty look that receives attention.
The mother in the article says, "I feel very proud every time somebody tells me how beautiful Tess is. The sad thing is, when the girls are together people will comment about Tess' beauty and ignore Alexia, or they'll say things like, 'Wow, the girls look nothing alike!'" What seems like a little quip people pick up on when siblings don't look alike, really is an egregious attack on Alexia (the "plain" daughter). When you give someone a compliment like, "You look just like Mick Jagger," and then follow it with, "You know, he was voted the ugliest man in the world," you seem to be sharing a dumb fact you know about someone, but really you just called that man ugly. Not everyone has this tact, and some never grow into it, but the bottom line is, she is creating a sister envy/ rivalry/ resentment in Alexia. She may not outwardly express it, but she will feel it.
Another point the mother brings up is, "If there's a function I need to attend and I'm allowed to take one of my kids, I always choose Tess because I love the compliments. I also love it when people say she looks like me. If I'm just with Alexia, I get no comments, nothing." So not only did she acknowledge that she likes the attention she receives when she has her "stunning" daughter at her side, but she relishes it and actively seeks it out. Every parent wants to be told how great their child is, because it is a direct reflection on us as parents. The societal hive mind judges parents for the most minute things, so it's nice to look past that every once in a while. I have great pride in my son. Everyone loves his red hair and he wears glasses, which make him just the cutest thing. I do not, nor have I ever exploited his appeal for attention, and I find it appalling that someone would favor one child over another for any reason, let alone one as superficial as this.
We have this idea of what "beauty" is. It's not someone who doesn't wear makeup. It's not someone who doesn't curl/straighten/ color treat their hair. But those women exist. We exist. On behalf of every girl who ever wished she would be prettier, please stop making us live up to some ridiculous expectation you have. Don't ask Alexia not to come on a work trip with you because you won't get compliments.
Toward the end of the article, the mother expresses her wish to even things out and make Alexia more "equal" to Tess. This is a long, hard road. She has a lot of work to do, especially if she is claiming her spouse and her mother call her out on it. She also claims, "Alexia has never made me aware that she feels like her sister is favoured over her." She also says that Alexia is kind. I wonder if it ever occurred to her that Alexia could maybe not want to hurt her mom or her sister's feelings? I guarantee this little girl has felt the pain, whether she realizes it or not; eventually she will figure it out. Eventually she will realize that mom favored her sister for a long time, if not her whole adolescent life.
Please stop this. Do not do this to your child. Listen to the motivational speakers that say beauty is from within. It's true. Children should have confidence in themselves in every way. Size, shape, ethnicity, none of it should matter.