Jo Swinson:”Don’t call your daughter beautiful” My response

Jo Swinson, the Women’s Minister, asks parents not to tell  daughters that they are beautiful

Its a great front-pager, without doubt, but the whole issue of building a child’s self-esteem is an holistic approach and is much more complex than Jo Swinson, fears. Ms Swinson makes the point at the lauch of Government’s “Body Confidence” campaign, suggesting instead that parents “praise them for their skill in doing a jigsaw and all these other things that they are doing, their curiosity in asking questions and a whole range of things”

I agree entirely that we should catch our children doing something healthy or disciplined and tell them loudly how proud we are of that. It is essential, of course, that we ensure that our children are reared with a confidence about themselves as individuals not just for how they look, but its just not as black and white as this.

It is hard-wired in our young people, especially as they approach adolescence, that they wish to be seen as attractive to the opposite sex (and same sex according to their sexuality). If we don’t give our young people, sons as well as daughters, a validation of how “nice they are to look at” they will waste a huge amount of time looking for validation from every Tom, Dick or Harriet.

Celebrating our children’s physical beauty or physical fitness doesn’t need to negate the accompanying validation of their personal qualities: good students, good friends, kind, empathetic, disciplined etc.,   Highlighting what you admire about them is a good foundation for building self-esteem – it does no harm to add “you’re beautiful” or “you’re handsome.

We can’t completely change the very real need for young people to be “attractive” to their peer group. Being found “attractive” also covers  being thought of as funny or  kind or talented. Jo Swinson could just have said “when you are praising your daughter or son for how beautiful or handsome they are – don’t forget to give equal importance to their commitment to studying, their kindness to others, their sense of humour.

Eileen Murphy
Twitter: @EileenHMurphy

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About Eileen Murphy

Practitioner and Trainer in Solution Focused Brief Therapy - working across Drug & Alcohol Recovery, Children & Families, Mental Health and Education. Working with local authorities and organisations across social care and HR fields, the Consultancy provide staff and project development in unique whole-team frameworks to improve outcomes for clients. Our DVD Achieving Change which can be -PURCHASED HERE is proving to be an invaluable tool for personal or whole-team development. . From 1st February 2013, we are providing 1:1 Staff Training Sessions and Client Coaching Sessions over Skype and Facetime. For further details, please contact us via Tel 0208 947 8093 or 07779 242 289 or
This entry was posted in Adolescence, Body image, Children, Parenting, Politics, Pyschology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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