Reader: Hi Athol, I have some questions about raising daughters, and I’d like your perspective on a few cultural things: the whole sexy + appealing vs modest + safe issues, HOW do you guide your girls?
I watched an episode of Our America with Lisa Ling last night on child beauty pageants and I was just wondering what you think about them. A few things that struck me: even Lisa seemed to note that pretending beauty didn’t matter is unrealistic, and that perhaps life is like a pageant- we are all judged, beauty does matter.
I grew up in the South where there were a lot of pageants, and while my Yankee feminist mother NEVER would have allowed me to do pageants (she wouldn’t even let me be a cheerleader, and forced me to wear glasses until college because she said I looked like Gloria Steinem).
Something that has struck me about girls I’ve known who have done pageants is that they have a lot of poise. Poise is not something I naturally have – I tend to be more intellectual and have my head in the clouds rather than in my body. But in the times in my life where I have felt really pretty and I’ve been more aware of people looking at me, I naturally had a higher sense of poise. Do you think beauty pageants are good for girls/teens/women?
And in a related topic- my husband and I are Christian and have been coming across a lot of messages about modesty recently. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that modesty is overrated, and I’ll teach my girls about being a lady, not about hiding themselves.
As a side note, I’m naturally very pretty, though I do have to watch my weight. I’ve found being pretty to be a bit of a disadvantage in some ways- the prettier (thinner) I am, the more threatened I’ve felt. When I lived in the south as a child some men even said disgusting things they would like to do to me while I was in front of my father! The prettier I am, the less I can trust men. They will lie, cheat, and pretend to be someone completely different than they are if I’m TOO pretty. I happen to have married a wonderful man who loves me for me and not for my looks and no matter what my weight is (perhaps because I look a lot like his mom did when he was a kid, perhaps because he’s even more intellectual than I am, perhaps because both of his sisters and his ex are obese), so I don’t feel much pressure there, but I do notice that looks help a lot in my career.
One thing that I don’t know how to teach my daughters is how to be safe around men. Teaching them to hide beauty with being a nerd, or by being a little bit fat, or with false religious modesty seems really stupid. But I don’t have another safeguard (other than a blackbelt husband). How are you teaching your daughters?
What age do you start discussing game?
Athol: Jennifer and I actually watched some of that show last night, so I know exactly what you’re talking about. My feeling on the child beauty pageants is that they are simply ways for less attractive mothers to live vicariously through their daughters and to feel better about themselves. It’s certainly not an activity that the kids have any ability to win at, as all the skill in the competition is taking place on the level of the mom rather than the daughter. It’s more like a Pokemon battle than anything else.
Jessica uses Charm!
Bobby-Jo uses $3000 Dress!
Jessica uses Smile!
Bobby-Jo uses Pornstar Makeup!
Jessica is knocked out!
I don’t have a problem with teenage beauty pageants in that beauty is simply a fact of life and if girls want to enter a pageant they can. Appearances matter and it certainly doesn’t hurt to get good at your appearance if you’re female. Though my caution would be that if you’re starting pageants when you’re 15-years-old, you may well experience good early success, but eventually you’re going to run into girls that have already been doing pageants since they were five-years-old and they will defeat you easily.
The one downside of pageants is that they focus solely on being eye candy. So it’s all female Alpha and nothing on the Beta. I mean it’s not like you can pick a wife out of a beauty pagent line up because while looking good in a swimsuit and and playing the flute is great and appealing… well you can only bang a hot chick for about 30 minutes a day and that leaves 23.5 hours to fill up with her Beta skills. If I was devising a competition to pick a wife out of, there’d be a few more segments in the pageant. Say a cooking segment, running a mile, chess, shop for an outfit with $100, archery, orienteering, dancing, sheep shearing and the most popular… the demolition derby.
Come on admit it, you’d watch a show like that.
So poise… yeah it’s probably nothing more than the inner game of knowing you look good right now. That men are going to come to you and seek you out. That’s about it. So look good and they will come.
Modesty and looking good is a real balancing act. The basic rule is to never show more than 40% of your body as bare skin. I.e. you can show off your boobs, midriff or legs, but not more than one of those areas at a time. In terms of makeup, I think as natural looking as possible is the best.
If you’re “too pretty”, you do run into the effect of being too hot for regular nice guys to think you’re within reach, and every other male with a libido wanting a little piece of you. This is why hot girls are notorious for “Bitch Shields” and snubbing guys fairly firmly. Though I agree with Mystery that these are in fact not Bitch Shields, but Protection Shields. If you walk down the street and ten different men check you out and look like they would make a move if you showed any hint of interest in them, you can’t let your shields down and show any interest to anyone if you want to finish your day.
In terms of our own girls… well the most fun eldest has dressing up is doing special effects bloody wounds for her zombie costume for the Con. They are in fact somewhat disturbing to look at lol. Youngest is a tiny thing and to her mother’s disgust is a Size 0. Finding her shorts is a challenge and when I found a bunch of Size 0 shorts in Gilly Hicks I excitedly announced I had found some figuring I was gaining points, but youngest declined interest because, “I don’t like short shorts.” So I’m pretty much failing on the slutting them up front, for which I assign blame to their modestly dressed mother. 🙂 (Jennifer: Okay, all you ladies who are getting worked up about “slutting them up”…breathe, it’s a joke!)
You have always been teaching your kids about sex and relationships from the day they were born. Jennifer and I have a happy and obviously vibrant sex life… though that’s obviously something we do behind closed doors. Every day we’re modeling a happy married life for them. The girls are aware of the books and the blog, though neither claim to have read it, though if they have it’s not a problem to me. They certainly get a good grounding in basic sexuality at school, so they aren’t naive by any means. Otherwise it’s a case of paying attention to your kids a looking for the teachable moments.
In terms of teaching Game itself, eventually I will be getting to a “MMSL for teens” type book as it’s one of my most requested things I get through email, but it’s a ways off yet. And as a final thought on beauty pageants… while tens of thousands of young women have said they were interested in world peace, I believe beauty pagents’ successes in actually bringing world peace about have been… modest.