Couldn't agree more on compliments being assessments and kids picking it up. Children of either gender should be told they are beautiful, but for girls, it often becomes the central part of their being.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a pirate, a tracker in the Wild West or an explorer of faraway lands. While my granddad and dad fully supported those ideas and made me bows and arrows from a hazelnut tree, my mother (bless her) made me wear tutus, practice ballet and always remind me I should be more beautiful and elegant, just like girl X, and why can't I just be a little more like girl X (girl X was my exceptionally beautiful, skinny and graceful classmate who would learn to apply make up in sixth grade while I trained for show jumping competitions in a mounted police yard).
Result? I still refuse to fold my clothes neatly and haven't owned a dress or a skirt since 2009. Kidding aside, though... I don't think my mom's obsession with beauty and elegance did me any favors, but they did leave a few lingering complexes. I don't blame her in any way - she was a product of her time, upbringing, culture and the notion of femininity back then - but I do sometimes wonder whether I would have been braver, healthier and more successful if I hadn't been so torn between the pressure to look pretty and the desire to see the world on my own terms.