Friday, July 6, 2012

Loving Your Looks in an Airbrushed World {A Note to My Girls}

This week the Keep It Real campaign released astounding statistics in an effort to get parents thinking about how their words and attitudes affect their child's perception of beauty AND encourage major beauty magazines to release unaltered photos. The stat? Eighty percent of ten year old girls have dieted.  As if that isn’t startling enough, 40 to 60% of children aged six through twelve are concerned about their weight and 70% want to be thinner. 

Grace is six.

My heart sunk at the swelling reality that the mirror’s lies start before Berenstein Bears has even been turned off.  Photo booth creates laughter one day

But could induce tears in the next.

And I never thought it so this young.

So far my girls have a healthy sense of self.  We tell them daily that they are beautiful because God carefully created them and Sheila Walsh’s Gigi: God’s Little Princess series is a great reinforcement (she has a Will, God’s Mighty Warrior series for all you boy moms!).

However the day will come that the nit picking begins and, when that happens, I want them to hear my words:

Dear daughter,

Today I watched you color.  You smiled and laughed at me in a moment that I wanted to freeze.  Beauty radiated from your dancing eyes and your infectious laugh mirrored a heart heaped with joy.
That is beauty.

The world will be quick to tell you what beauty is.  It will be in the size of your pants, curve of your nose, the height in which you stand.

What they won’t tell you is this.  The image of that perfect someone has been digitally altered so that even the person in the picture is no longer real.  Satan gets busy at work in the art of deception.  Sadly, many will cling to this and begin dramatic, often unhealthy, efforts to achieve fake pretty.
But let me warn you that once Satan has you twisted up in this constant striving for worldly beauty, it will never end.  I have never in my adult life met someone who achieved bodily perfection in their eyes.  Once one “goal” is met another “flaw” is identified and in this downward spiral focus is taken off the One who made you to begin with.

This leads to more problems than one.

If you are trying to fit in to be with your friends, they are not really your friends to begin with.  The comparison game isn’t an active part of healthy friendships.  If you are doing it for a boy, then I guarantee you his motives are wrong and your father won’t approve.  Godly men aren’t focusing on your lines.  They are focused on the heart.

From a heart standpoint, you can never really be happy if you are caught up in numbers.  There is a reason this mama of yours doesn’t have a scale in our house.  I might have years on you but I’m still a part of the same culture.  And, if I step on the scale there is a tendency to obsess about the number before me.   I’m fairly confident a tape measure to the waist would do the same.

But I don’t need one because here is the truth, sweet girls. My number doesn’t matter.  It isn’t about the number.  It is about being healthy.  And that is very different.

God created you.  The same God that pressed the stars into the sky that you wish upon and formed the waters you swim in.  That God chose to make you your height, your nose shape, your everything…and He doesn’t make mistakes. 

And since God made you with such extreme care you need to treat yourself with care.

When the world tries to define beauty, my prayer would be that you focus on health.  Starving yourself and harming His craftsmanship for a number certainly doesn’t honor God.  Taking the best care of the one body that He gave you does.  Eat your fruits and veggies.  Exercise.  Get rest.  Close your eyes and hear God say, “There is no flaw in you.” (Song of Solomon 4:7)

I guarantee that if you take on this perspective life will always feel better.  You will stand with confidence.  Your friends will be real.  Your relationships will be pure.  You can focus on all that life is instead of what it isn’t and, in the process, you will get to enjoy life richer, longer.

Looks change.  They always will.  Pick any person to look at photos over the years and this will be a constant.  Knowing that, I pray you choose the best and treat your body well.  And when you feel down, always, ALWAYS, come chat with us about your feelings.  We will always have the time.

You are beautiful, dear child.  Continue to let those eyes dance and double over in laughter.  In doing so, you will feel His perfection manifest in you and beauty will be everywhere you go.

Love you to bits,
Mom                  

Proverbs 31:30 - "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting: but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."


Shared at The Better Mom, Titus 2 Tuesday, Women Living Well, She Reads Truth, (in)Motherhood

7 comments:

  1. Such a beautiful letter to your daughter! As an adult... there are times I need to remember this advice as well. Some days, all we can see are the flaws. Thanks for this reminder!

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  2. Beautiful, Melissa! Just a perfect dose of humble truth. If you don't mind, I'm going to post a link to your post this week and also share a bit of it when I speak on Friday night at a Redefining Beauty event. Your words will minister truth and love!

    Blessings, friend,
    Lisa

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  3. All parents should copy this to give to their girls. I can't count the times I had to remind my girls that what they perceived as beauty was actually airbrushed. Sometimes I remind myself of that truth, too. Excellent post, Melissa.

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  4. Beautiful beautiful beautiful. I just shared a very similar post about raising a daughter in this culture. As mamas we have to SHOW our girls how to love the bodies they are blessed with. I'm so thankful that your girls have a mama like you to tell them every day how perfect God made them :) Thanks for sharing!

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  5. "And since God made you with such extreme care you need to treat yourself with care."

    Yes!!! Love this Melissa.

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  6. Lovely, and so true. We need to hear these truths over and over, so I thank you for sharing them and I'm blessed to read them today.

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  7. What lucky little girls to have a mama who pours such truth into them early!

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