As a father to girls, I often find myself the audience for a fashion show of sorts. “Dad, look!” I hear. And I get to admire the dress up clothes, or the new outfit, or the fact they they did their own hair (aka put in 7 hair clips). And my typical response is, “Wow! So pretty!” To my wife, as we encounter life together, I try to stop and let her know, “Honey, you look great.”

And in both of those cases, I’m being authentic.  No matter what, I think they are pretty.  But just the other day, I started to wonder if I’m saying the right thing to them.

In today’s society, there’s a huge focus on what makes the perfect look for women. Photo shoots plus Photoshop make up the front of magazines that are plopped down right at the checkout line.  Whether we want them to or not, they often create a standard in our minds of what beauty is. I want my wife and daughters to know that they are pretty to me, even if they don’t feel like they match that standard. So telling them that they’re pretty is a good thing. I want to reinforce their self esteem and let them know that God created them just the way they are and that’s ok.

But beauty is more than the outward looks.  In the Bible, God tells the prophet Samuel, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) As a guy with a face for radio, this is great news! But it also means that it’s not good enough for me to compliment my daughters and wife on how they look. Because in the end, being beautiful isn’t the same as being pretty. It’s something more.

So let’s do this together. Whether you’re in the habit of telling them they’re pretty or not, let’s change how we speak into the lives of our wives and our girls. The next time your daughters come out in dress up, or your wife gets ready for a night out (or just collapses at the end of a long day) look them in the eye, let them know you love them, and tell them, “You’re beautiful.”

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