I read your blog about child beauty pageants through an internet search and had to write you with a problem my wife thinks isn’t a problem at all.
We have two daughters, 12 and 14, and I’ve noticed a pattern with how she treats them.
Our 12-year-old Carrie is honestly stunning. She has been scouted for child modeling and my wife is spending a good deal of time and money on photos, dance classes, and acting classes for her. She wants her to be the next big thing, I guess.
Meanwhile she loves our 14-year-old Christine but she does not give her as much attention, especially the praise she heaps upon our youngest for her looks. I worry that even though Christine is perfectly attractive, she could sustain damage to her self-esteem based upon her mom’s hyper-focus on the looks of her sister.
My wife can be a hothead so how about a script? How do I encourage her to praise Christine for her looks too and not to be so obsessed with Carrie’s looks and future modeling career?
Dear Mr. Tree:
I get the joke you made with your signature. Readers, do you?
I admit I checked out your Facebook profile after we chatted and you are a handsome tree indeed, so the apple of your eye did not fall far from your trunk. Come to think of it, she originated from your trunk.
Don’t bark at me for that stupid joke. My sense of humor runs rings around yours. Hey, where are you going? Don’t deciduous gonna get your advice somewhere else and leaf. You cambia jerk and run off before I get to the root of your problem!
Your Problem is Not Exactly What You Think it Is
You are correct that your wife’s focus on Carrie’s looks could be damaging to Christine’s self-esteem, but the much more serious problem is the damage your wife is doing to Carrie.
We live now, and have for some time, in a culture that often labels women worthless if we don’t look a certain way. Our society places women especially thin and beautiful upon a pedestal so high that they become trapped there.
Readers may be scratching their heads and asking,
“What do you mean, ‘trapped,’ Robin? That’s a pedestal I’d love to be standing on!”
Are you sure?
Women treasured mainly for their looks aren’t just reduced to their genetic lottery luck – they are actually subtly encouraged to remain little more than arm candy for men.
This is not some feminist conspiracy theory. I’ve developed this postulate over decades of observing (in a non-creepy way) exceptionally attractive women. My research, such as it is, shows that very attractive young girls too regularly grow up to be very vain, vacant, vacuous, and vapid vixens.
Stop accusing me of being envious as well as alliterative and just think about it:
Pretty little girls like your daughter Carrie are praised constantly for their looks, and that continues into their adolescence. They learn that their worth is external, and many of them are never motivated to develop a challenging and intelligent personality, career, or voice.
They are rather told to just stand up there on their pedestal and look perfect. They are expected to “marry well,” and they do. For years they are admired based almost entirely on their appearance, because there isn’t much more to these women.
After all, why would you go to the hard work of making yourself interesting when the world falls at your feet because you are beautiful?
I’ll tell you why:
Whether we like it or not, our Earth spins and spins. As we age, beauty fades.
After we lose our looks, all we have to offer are the contents of our minds and our hearts.
I pity the women who were trained from an early age to rely on their looks because so often, when the lines form, the waist thickens and the hair goes gray, there is little to be interested in or admire.
More important: what kind of a life is lead even during the most beautiful years? How fulfilling can it be?
Carrie v. Christine: Who is Your Wife Fucking Up More?
Here’s what you told me when we chatted:
- You encourage both your daughters in their sports, social, and scholastic endeavors. Your wife tends to support Carrie mainly in her modeling career development, while cheering Christine on for all of her attributes and activities (except her appearance).
- Your wife has recently urged Carrie to quit the two sports she loves, lacrosse and basketball, because she is worried Carrie will suffer an injury to her face and thereby damage her blossoming modeling life. Carrie does not want to quit.
- Christine makes exceptional grades. Carrie does not, even though she is intelligent.
- Christine has a diverse and interesting group of friends. Carrie surrounds herself with girls you described as “pretty but mean.”
- The modeling career preparation you described is very expensive and finances are already tight. As a result, Christine is often told something she wants or needs is impossible, because so much of your discretionary income goes to her sister.
- You found me as you searched child pageants because your wife has been making noises about getting Carrie on the teen circuit. As you discovered, I’ve written about them in the past.
OK, Mr. Tree, I think you can see where I’m going with this. Your wife’s obsession with Carrie’s looks is damaging to both of her daughters, but probably more so to Carrie. Can this be solved with one of my scripts? Yes and no.
Yes, because I am a very persuasive person and stealthy with a keyboard.
No, because your wife has issues.
Specifically, she wanted to be a model when she was young, she was not successful despite being very pretty, and she is hyper-focused on her own looks, as well as those of your youngest daughter.
She is shallow and gossipy and spends a good deal of money on clothing, makeup, injections, and other things to enhance her appearance.
It goes without saying she doesn’t have anything else going on in her life besides the kids and she basically ignores you.
Script for Mr. Tree:
Wife, I want to show you something. I wrote the amazing and talented Robin DesCamp for advice on what I see as a real problem in our family. Here was her reaction. I’ve spoken with you before about being more complimentary of Christine’s appearance, but I had no idea of the damage you may be doing to Carrie.
We need to support both our daughters in everything they do, and we need to encourage their full development as compelling human beings, not just attractive but empty containers.
In addition, until you get a job and start bringing in some money, I am putting the kibosh on all these classes and photo shoots. If Carrie really has what it takes, what I’ve paid for already will be enough. Our family has more pressing matters that require our financial attention, and it isn’t fair that Christine has had to go without so often while Carrie gets everything she asks for.
I don’t want Carrie to grow up to be a very vain, vacant, vacuous, and vapid vixen and I can’t believe you want that either. Let’s commit to changing things around here before she turns into an entitlement-minded little princess with little between her ears and nothing to contribute to the world and people around her.*
*Like her mother.
Duck, run for cover, and let me know how it all goes, would you please?