When Mazzy was a baby, I remember reading a few articles that said you weren’t supposed to tell your daughter that she’s pretty. One reason being that focusing on looks can make a girl think that image is what is most valued and all she has to offer. That made sense to me. As a kid, my mom told me I was beautiful all the time. I loved hearing it, but I ended up not believing her, while still thinking beauty was vitally important.

And so, over the years, I have mostly avoided making such statements to my girls.

Then the other day I found myself thinking about my own insecurities and realized that I wasted so much of my young life wondering if I was attractive or not. That doubt played into my confidence, the boys I dated, the clothes I wore, the career path I took and my comfort level commanding attention in front of a room.

Would I have made better choices if I had been more secure with what I looked like?

I decided I should tell Mazzy how beautiful she is; not because I want her to focus on her looks, but because I don’t want her to have any doubt. My hope was that the absence of doubt would free her up to focus on more important things.

So, last night, while brushing Mazzy’s hair after a bath, I told her. “You know you are beautiful, right?”

She gave me a weird look.

“I mean, I just don’t want you ever to wonder.”

She looked at me weirdly again.

“Mom,” she said. “Everybody is beautiful.”

And then I hugged her close and said, “Yes, you are right” and for a moment, I felt like, maybe, just maybe, focusing on appearance will one day seem as antiquated as I felt, telling my daughter she was beautiful when she didn’t even need to hear it.