So much more than pretty 12

It struck me the other day that the most and often only thing I hear people say to little girls  is “you’re pretty.”  They are pretty.  They are cute.  They are lovely.  And they are so much more than that.  Girls need to hear more about the other things they are.  In no particular order here are some things you can say to girls instead of and in addition to “you’re so pretty.”

  • You’re smart
  • You’re clever
  • You’re funny
  • You’re creative
  • You’re doing it
  • You rock
  • You nailed it
  • You figured it out
  • You’re awesome, fabulous, energetic, forceful, and charismatic
  • You’re a hard worker…keep on
  • You’re fit, you run,
  • You sing, such bling, so fun…

Blowing Bubbles – Photo by Lolita Parker, Jr.

If letting go of the pretties is difficult for you,” my pretty”, said in my best Wicked Witch of the West voice imitating actress Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard of Oz*, try this:

(You’re) pretty cool

Pretty smart

Pretty strong

Pretty fierce

Pretty chill

Pretty funny

Pretty awesome

Pretty energetic

Pretty forceful

I’m pretty sure you get it.

Pretty is as pretty does and beauty is as beauty was

But my brain spoke and I must say

Girl’s are so much more than pretty…



*”I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!” is the full quote from The Wizard of Oz.

If you  like this post, you might also like a previous post I wrote, Will This Keep my Grandson Safe?



About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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12 thoughts on “So much more than pretty


    It’s like the word, “nice” –so empty. Doesn’t build up or tear down just something in between, pleasant. A lost opportunity to enhance, lead, reinforce, support, and change…!

  • Al-lyce James

    I totally agree with you Candelaria. But I’m coming at it from a different direction … When I was growing up the adults around me didn’t think much of my physical attributes. I can’t remember anyone ever saying I was pretty. However they (adults) all agreed on one attribute. They would always say she sure is smart! So, I concentrated on that!

    • Candelaria Silva Post author

      It must have been difficult to not be told you were pretty especially because it is what people always say to little girls. I am glad they saw your intellect and told you and that you concentrated on it! Your “smarts” have served you well. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Joygiver

      I thought I was the only one. I find it so interesting today that I have no recall of my mother ever telling me that I was pretty. I don’t recall hearing it around the house with my siblings either (to or from). However, I did hear it enough on the street from older people. And I was pretty … in the most innocent way a girl could be; I look cared for and loved, moisturized, hair done and dressed as best as the times (for my family) would allow with clothes that were always clean and pressed. I wasn’t grown or sassy (until later. lol). Interestingly, I never felt unattractive. Boys will be boys right?, always some that are nasty, saying fresh things, trying to kiss you or even hump you. (That was always confusing to me.) My extended family in NY did say that I was cute and was more affectionate than my single-parent mom. I always prided myself on being smart and independent, resourceful, helpful and caring, never on being pretty. I’m extremely grateful today that my recollection is never having felt unloved or cared for and treat “cute” as a fact of my life. It was God given and I try to be a good steward of it. I use it to my advantage when necessary or wanted. I take it up a notch at will (because pretty can become gorgeous or strikingly beautiful in minutes). “Pretty” does have power. Fortunately for us, we are smart!

  • Joygiver

    I like that “pretty” was never my value. You can look around and “pretty” is all some people have, because they were taught that it was their value. I was most offended as a mature adult to have multiple older men say that I’m pretty “and I’m smart”. “Pretty” was God given, but I’ve worked hard on my character, intelligence, spirituality, work ethic, relationships, scholastics, street-smarts, balance, worldliness, health, wealth, strength, on and on. I don’t like people that value the low-hanging fruit or only observe the obvious. And if you don’t acknowledge the “pretty” compliment in a satisfactory way, the complimenter’s ego is bruised. So, was it really about my “pretty”?

    • Candelaria Silva Post author

      Thank you for your thoughtful response which gives a different take on the compliment/adjective. You’re right, if you don’t respond in the way the person giving a compliment desires, it can turn ugly.