You don’t look beautiful – you ARE beautiful!

My youngest daughter would come to me and ask “Do I look beautiful in this outfit?” and my reply to her will always be:

“No, you don’t look beautiful.

You ARE beautiful.

You have a smart mind, a strong body and a beautiful heart and that’s what makes you beautiful”.

Excerpt from picture book, Rosie Leads the Way by Renee Irving Lee and illustrations by Lisa Coutts

Many people think we shouldn’t describe young girls as beautiful.

I don’t think the term ‘beautiful’ is wrong, however, I do think that society’s definition of beautiful is very, very wrong!

Being beautiful is NOT about appearance.

Being beautiful is NOT about clothes, makeup, selfies, social media followers, thigh gaps, smooth hair or flawless skin.

Being beautiful is about who you are at the very core.

Being beautiful is about self-acceptance, kindness, love, compassion, and being the best version of yourself.

Being beautiful is all about who you are, NOT what you look like!

There are so many beautiful girls in the world – I just wish they knew just how beautiful they truly are!

Where does this idea of beauty and perfection come from?

I don’t know about you, but life for me as a teenage girl meant putting on a Sportsgirl t-shirt, throwing on a pair of jeans and blow-drying my fringe into a wave and pulling the rest into a ponytail.

This process took me all of about 15 minutes.

No make-up, no selfies, no eyelash extensions, no hair tutorials and definitely no social media. My friends and I would ride our bikes to the shopping centre, to the beach or to the local pool. The only way to make contact with each other was by calling the home phone or by actually visiting them in person. Life was extremely simple and almost care-free!

Now, let’s fast forward to today.

Today is a completely different story. Life is busier, more intense, more invasive, and more public.

Our children are living in a completely different world than we did, so it’s not surprising that anxiety levels have increased, self-confidence has dropped and views on healthy body image have been distorted.

  • There has been a significant upward trend in depression and suicidal thoughts over the past several years for teens, especially those who spend multiple hours a day using screens, and especially girls. 
  • 8 out of 10 girls are so concerned with the way they look that they opt out of important activities
  • 7 out of 10 report putting their health at risk by not eating or not going to visit the doctor when they don’t feel good about the way they look. 
  • Over 50% of teenage girls use unhealthy weight control behaviours such as skipping meals, fasting, vomiting and taking laxatives
  • Girls today have lost 4 years of their childhood.  What we were experiencing at the age of 18, our girls are now experiencing at the tender age of 14.
  • Tweens are spending 6 hours a day on social media and teenagers are spending 9 hours per day on social media.
  • Use of social media is linked to increased levels of stress and anxiety

As a parent, these statistics are horrifying to read!!!! 

A big part of the anxiety suffered by girls has been related to the media and appearance ideals. Girls are exposed to a staggering 5000 images per day on the TV, Magazines, Billboards, online sites and social media of women looking perfect, pretty and thin. 

Redefining beauty…

As a mum of two girls, I had an overwhelming drive to change society’s unhealthy obsession for physical appearance and perfection at all costs, so I made the decision to write a picture book to redefine what it means to be beautiful.

My new definition of beautiful and the underlying message in ‘Rosie Leads the Way’ became all about having a smart mind, a strong body, and a beautiful heart.

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“After talking with her Mum, Rosie believes she is the most beautiful girl in the whole entire world – but the day she met Penelope Pennington she wasn’t so sure.  Penelope Pennington had the perfect hair, the perfect clothes, the perfect shoes and even the perfect cat!  

So, when Rosie and Penelope unexpectedly walk home together, they both make some meaningful discoveries along the way.   Was Penelope really that perfect? How does Rosie manage to overcome her self-doubt to lead the way?

“Rosie absolutely leads the way in this inspiring story,showing young girls how to be smart, strong and kind. Rosie is the girl we should all aspire to be!This is a simply delightful book with a powerful message.” – Dr Samantha Hornery, Learning Links Education Manager.

“Rosie is a brilliant unintentional role model for girls.  A great book to read aloud, which is important as you’ll be asked to over and over, and beautifully illustrated.” – Kim McCabe, Parenting Expert, Girls’ Mentor, Author and Founder of Rites for Girls.

“This is a skilfully written story, deceptively simple but one that resonates with young children who are very focussed on the concepts of strengths, friendship and kindness. The delightfully vibrant and energetic illustrations help to capture and hold our interest.” – Sarah Harris, Early Childhood Teacher (45 years Experience)