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Being Dishonest About Ugliness by Julia Baird, New York Times

Stashed in: Beauty, Parents

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It’s important to talk to children before “they get sucked into the tight vortex of peer pressure, where every single difference is a case for disaster. Don’t tell kids they’re all beautiful; tell them it’s O.K. to look different.”

Perhaps it’s the long association of physical ugliness with immorality that we need to unpack. The Oxford Dictionary includes in its definition of ugly in English “morally repugnant.” In Greek, the word “kalos” means both beauty and noble, while “aischros” means shameful as well as ugly. Ugly characters in kids’ books are generally horrible and their physical flaws are signs of other shortcomings. Villains have bad teeth, liars have long noses, zombies have thick skulls. The miserly are bony, the greedy, fat.

And perhaps we also need to spend more time pointing to some of the magnificent creatures who have walked the earth without the need for pageant ribbons or Instagram likes, but who have contributed in enduring ways — think, maybe, about Abraham Lincoln.

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