A friend of mine's daughter-in-law recently gave birth to a baby girl. The mother, Sally, has decided that she doesn't want anyone to say anything to the child which has anything to do with how she looks. Nothing. Not, "Oh, what a pretty baby!" "Aw, aren't you cute?!" "What precious little hands!" NOTHING. I felt so put off when I heard that. I was surprised by the strength of my feelings so had to examine them carefully. I realized that I felt like I couldn't say a thing to the baby without her mother jumping down my throat. But now I'm beginning to understand. It is SO completely normal for us to comment on a child's looks that I can barely even think of anything else to say to a baby! Now I appreciate Sally's desire to protect her child from all those judgments - even if they're positive - and to allow her the opportunity to develop her own self image around how she looks, free from the opinions of others. I don't know if that's possible, but I can see aspiring to it.
Here are some of the comments which people on Facebook shared with me - comments which have stuck with them their entire lives. Some are positive, some negative. All, I hope, will help me remember to think before I speak and to notice the judgment inherent in even my most innocuous comment!
* MIS: My mother told me I could never be happy if I was fat. She was wrong.