We have two daughters.
One is a teenager who is imminently, and almost unbelievably at times, becoming a young adult. The other is an 8-year-old who thinks she’s imminently becoming a young adult. They are as different as day and night, but there is territory that ultimately must be covered with any girl at some point in her life: what makes a woman beautiful. And before we can approach this topic with our daughters, we must first reconcile some of our own misgivings, our pains of rejection and persecution, and our sense of self confidence and self worth.
I have to give it to our youngest: once she gets excited about a project–and this happens almost daily–she goes after it with missionary zeal. I am sure the Lord will use this personality trait to His glory one day, but right now, it sometimes becomes quite exasperating. Her latest quest was to become a pageant queen. She simply said to me, “Mom, I want to be in a pageant,” and in a matter of a few hours, she’d found the pageant online, along with another site that sold appropriate evening gowns for children, and she was thinking–in detail–through her choice for a talent. Perhaps because I’d just paid for dance shoes for three and extra dance classes for her early start on this year’s performance team, or perhaps because I was aggravated by today’s “have to, HAVE TO(!!)” project, but I said “no” in a manner that wasn’t as kind or considerate of her little feelings as I could have been.
The oldest, in the true spirit of an oldest daughter who considers herself an additional parent, began to chime in about all the hidden costs of pageants, and to share with the younger daughter that she had once considered being a part of a pageant as well. I’d forgotten that I’d covered that same ground with her a number of years back.
The end result of all of this discussion was a very disappointed little girl, who needed a moment or two alone with her tears. I felt bad.
I don’t really have a problem with pageants; it’s just not a priority for me. Of all the numerous needs and wants that come through this household, allocating money to those events, of which many look like fundraisers for various organizations rather than a real victory for any one contestant, would be on the very bottom of a long list.
I do, however, have a problem with a mentality–a mentality that says that women have to look a certain way to be considered attractive. It’s a mentality that we swallow wholeheartedly and sometimes pass on to our daughters waaaaaayyyyy too early. I think this video, sent to me years ago, just about sums it up:
With two girls, I’ve spent quite a bit of time with where I am, so to speak, regarding make-up, clothing, hair, and all those other “girly areas” that inevitably become HUGE topics of conversation as girls mature–sometimes even before that. I’m clear on a few things. There will no cleavage shown, no bellies exposed, and no dresses that go much above the knee. Your clothing should please God first, then you can enjoy your choices, but you aren’t dressing to please a man, so nothing needs to be written across your behind (why else put those big letters there? It’s not as if YOU can read them!) Those are not just rules for the girls; I, of ample bosom, live by the same rules. In fact, I began sewing again in part to rectify the dress length issue: have you noticed how very short women’s dresses and skirts are currently??
The foundation of any house rule must be the Word:
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
1 Peter 3:3
The Word of God is so liberating to us as we search for clarity in how we ought to live. But let’s also face facts: we all want to be known as having more than the proverbial “great personality.”
So, as I see videos like the one listed above, I experience freedom about the fact that on most days, I’m not a supermodel. But there are some places where I’m not as resolved, areas where there are still question marks. I mull over these areas each time I help our daughters prepare for dance competitions. They must wear “stage make-up” in order to not have their faces washed out from the lights. Okay. A little blush here, a bit of lipstick and a splash of color on the eyes there wouldn’t kill them or me. But this past year, we had to have fake eyelashes. And we had to put mascara on the fake eyelashes. Our girls both wear glasses. Who is going to see all of that junk(?!), I thought, and more importantly, where is all of this going?
Personally, I’ve always believed in working with what God gave me. I tried daily make-up during my freshman year of high school; it was a rite of passage, or so I thought. That lasted about 2 days before I realized that it took too much energy to worry about what I looked like after I’d sweated, or to keep checking to ensure that no color ran into any other. Bottom line? I was just too darn lazy to wash all that stuff from my face at night. 30+ years later, I’m almost strictly a lipstick woman. I’ve been blessed with dry skin. I say ‘blessed’ because I’ve almost never had problems with acne, etc., even as a teen. I simply don’t have enough oil on most of my face to cause some of the blemish issues that others have, so I’ve not had to worry with powders and such. The eyeliner that I love and adore started irritating my eyes a few years back, so I now allow my glasses to be the sole adornment of my eyes.
Right now, my oldest isn’t a make-up lover, either, although she likes to keep her stage make-up on well after we’re home from a competition; I think she marvels at the change in her appearance. The youngest is like most little girls who play in Mom’s make-up, I guess, waiting to be old enough to wear it amidst my parenting talks about what makes a woman truly beautiful. As for me, I’m still reflecting on the pageant–what I said, how I said it, and why I said what I said. In the meantime, now 2 days later, she began forming her new rock band–band name, band members, instruments, and all. She’s already got the names of her first two CDs and is busily writing song lyrics.
Be blessed, my friends.