~Defining beauty for ourselves is a challenging but important task. Don’t shy away from it, don’t ignore it, don’t exalt it but instead wrestle with that beast we call beauty. The word “beautiful” is filled with so many messages from the media, our parents, our friends, our spouse and ourselves. Forget the negative messages and focus on the positive ones and come up with your own healthy view that you want to pass on to your daughter. The moments I have felt the most beautiful is when I have accomplished something challenging and when my husband looks at me from across the room with admiring eyes. Those moments have made me feel strong, encouraged, accomplished and capable. ~
Contributing Writer: Beth D. Saavedra
“You’re so cute!” I said to the little girl.
“Smart, too!” she replied, tapping her head.
I laughed and vowed that if I ever had a daughter, I would teach her to value her intelligence over her looks.
After welcoming three little boys with open arms, we finally got our own little girl. Even though we often compliment her smarts, I find it hard to lay off on calling her “beauty!” and “princess!” all the time.
Should I feel guilty for focusing too much on her looks? Should I bring out the ticker to count how many appearance-centered comments she gets and make sure to balance them out with an equal number of “inner beauty/talents” affirmations?
Human beings are intrinsically drawn to beauty. Whose heart doesn’t leap when they see breathtaking scenery? I don’t want to squash the celebration my soul feels when I look at my child’s face; I want to invite her to enjoy the moment along with me. I really do think my daughter is gorgeous and when I tell her that, I am affirming the fact that we are all pulled towards beauty.
On the other hand, I want my daughter to know that she is loveable no matter what she looks like. I want her to be able to spot the lies in the advertisements that want her to feel unworthy. I want her to know that her contribution to the world is so much bigger than just a lovely figure.
So how do we achieve this balance?
I’ve come to believe that the antidote to a appearance-obsessed culture is not to downplay beauty, but to define beauty in broader – and ultimately deeper – ways.
This means my daughter and I are on a beauty treasure hunt all the time.
See that lady with the cross-hatch of wrinkles covering her face, the laugh-lines radiating out from her eyes? Beautiful.
See that girl with cerebral palsy, who pulls her leg behind her, but moves with dignity and purpose? Beautiful.
See that Quechua woman, wearing her fedora, traditional skirt, and blouse with pride? Beautiful.
See the older sister, pulling her baby brother into her lap so he can rest on the crowded bus? Beautiful.
See the librarian, staying late to make sure her student finds just the right book to take her on a great adventure? Beautiful.
See your friends from ballet class, freestyle dancing with total abandon, total lack of rhythm, but total joy? Beautiful.
And you, my darling daughter, are beautiful, too, in oh, so many ways!
What comes to mind when you’re asked to define” a woman’s beauty”?
image by chadmiller flickr
Beth Saavedra is an avid fan of her husband, the band U2, chocolate and the Bible. She loves her four kiddos more than life itself. Beth makes her messy, friend-filled home in Ecuador. You can read her missionary newsletters at http://saavedrastories.blogspot.com.