What girls really hear when we call them pretty (video)

What if we told girls they were pretty brilliant instead of just pretty? Check out the Verizon ad that has gone viral.

When you tell a girl she is pretty, what does she hear?

Does she hear that she is smart, powerful and that her worth is more than her physical appearance? Or does she hear: hold back, don’t get your dress dirty, don’t take risks, put on more lip gloss?

Verizon Wireless made this commercial in cooperation with Makers and Girls Who Code.

I admit, I cried when I first saw it. So did my husband. The tears come from guilt, and the knowledge that we are all part of the problem.

Casual sexism is everywhere (hello, Peter MacKay!). Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani narrates the ad and her organization is at the forefront of getting more girls into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathmatics). Verizon has also set up an interactive site with information for girls and their parents. Check it out here.

My daughter is better at building things than her brothers. She liked to play with the big blocks in senior kindergarten. But when she got too involved, her teacher told her to sit quietly and draw. That is an example of everyday sexism. It starts early, and it is pervasive.

My eight-year-old is very beautiful. But her beauty is not what I want you to notice about her. I want you to see her enthusiasm, her courage, her willingness to take risks and her skinned, dirty knees. I hope we aren’t too late. She already tells me she hates math.

Emma Waverman is a writer, blogger and mom to three kids. She has many opinions, some of them are fit to print. Read more of her articles here and follow her on Twitter @emmawaverman

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