“Am I beautiful, Mommy?” my almost five year old asks. She spins in a second-hand, slightly faded dress.
Her hair’s a bit of a tangled nest from just waking up, and her sash is untied, hanging loose around her.
She is young, but already soaking in so much of the world around her.
Maybe too much.
I think, how? How in the world can anyone raise up a dear girl in a society where the standard of beauty has become this impossible commercialized package?
Idealism is everywhere. I walk into a toy store and notice that every Barbie’s body is configured in this flawless plastic sameness.
What is this saying? Why is every innocent-eyed Disney princess that fills my daughter’s toy box literally picture perfect?
Idealism definitely sells.
And maybe this is fine and well, to some extent.
There isn’t anything inherently wrong, after all, when a little girl dresses up a Barbie or squeals after her favorite princess. The real tragedy though, is when that little girl grows up and begins to believe that anything outside of what is being “marketed” is not up to standard.
It’s when she sadly begins to buy into the lie that having the “wrong” body type, a facial “flaw,” losing her health, losing her youth… that these things make her less than enough.
Our culture’s one size fits all standard beats hard against us. It takes intention, work, and guts to think differently about the concept of what is truly beautiful.
But here’s what I am learning – to live in fear is the ugliest way we could live.
Fear takes so much from us. Fear stops us from celebrating what we do have. It’s fearing what people think that steals who we really are.
I confess, I too feel the pressure to find my confidence in some external thing, but I also am old enough to understand this – that which is not soul-deep, simply changes.
In fact, they say that retirement homes are the great equalizer. They say, within those walls, our carefully kept up shells will matter so little. I’d imagine when our bodies have grown tired and full with change, we will realize that so much of what gave us worth was fleeting. Tumbleweed at best. And at that point it won’t be enough to hide behind a trendy outfit, a new diet, a new cream, a nip or tuck here or there… what good is that going to do? We will need courage to still live with joy and worth.
And so I often think, why not start living with that courage now? What would our souls regret? Would we instead regret so much hiding? So much self-criticism? Would we feel we have wasted so many years strapped down, confined, and defeated by the world’s expectations?
The truth is, society will always fling some impossible criteria at us, even to the youngest of girls. But what would it be like if we woke up, embraced our reflection, and truly believed that we have been fearfully and wonderfully made?
That we are truly beautiful in God’s eyes?
What would it be like if we heeded these words: Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. ~ Proverbs 31:30
I think the shelves in our toy stores would look a little different.
“Am I beautiful?” she asks again.
I see her spin, and the sash on her dress is flowing.
“Of course you’re beautiful,” I say. “And never forget it.” ❤