This morning I read this article about a French clothing designer marketing lingerie for young girls. Beyond the disturbing nature of the idea, the images were equally disturbing. It brought to mind something I have been thinking on.
My oldest child is 5, yet already she is becoming consumed with “pretty.” We were driving one day and passed a Hooter’s billboard with one of the Hooter’s girls on it. “Mommy, that lady is pretty, isn’t she?” was the unsolicited comment from the back seat.
I was taken aback. Yes, the lady is pretty, but do I really want to say that to my impressionable child? What is she noticing as “pretty,” the tight, revealing shirt or her pretty face?
I was a bit relieved when a few weeks later we had a pastoral candidate at our church who had a 20-something daughter who played the French horn. She was a lovely young lady, but completely modestly and appropriately dressed. The same child leaned over and said, “Mommy, that lady is very pretty.” Just yesterday we were driving and next to us pulled a young woman who was not, in my definition, pretty, but she was wearing makeup and had her hair fixed nicely and she received the same comment.
So, I am not sure what defines “pretty” in my daughter’s mind.
But, one thing is stuck in my mind. Our society values “beauty” above all else, and that beauty is not at all inward. It is defined as a skinny body, large chest, and perfect hair and makeup.
As the mom of girls, how do I protect them from this image? It is literally everywhere! Even the seemingly innocent “princess” genre is filled with beautiful women with perfect bodies. Yes, they also have good character, but they are nonetheless beautiful.
Proverbs says, “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.”
How do I teach my daughters this truth? We could and probably will spend some time on this verse, but I think that the teaching must be deeper than that. We cannot avoid the overly-sexualized images that surround us in this society. We drive past that Hooter’s billboard regularly, and it’s not possible to avoid. I do not feel that eliminating princess stories and videos is necessary.
I often wonder if I add to this problem by emphasizing looking nice for church. We wear our “best” dress, add a necklace, and fix our hair. I do not think this is wrong, because we are going to spend time learning about our Lord and should look our best, yet when I say, “you look so pretty!” am I adding to this focus on outward beauty, or am I instilling proper self confidence to help combat the insecurities that will inevitably come in junior high (she is, after all, my mini-me)? These are questions that are hard to answer!
This is something I plan to think on for a while. Thoughts?