Dear Daughters and Girls everywhere,
You’re beautiful. You don’t even have to try. In fact, you don’t yet know what it feels like to try at beautiful, compare yourself and ultimately feel like you’ve come up short. I suspect that no amount of warning or “bubbling you in” will forever help you avoid that moment, but I would like to try and reroute your thinking so that, when those moments inevitably arrive, they won’t hit you as hard.
A lot is made of beauty – faces and hair and bodies, particularly when we’re talking about girls. Our culture has done such a horrible job over the past few decades of portraying real, natural beauty (our flaws included) that now there are whole campaigns dedicated to reshaping girls’ views on beauty and self-esteem (like this one from Dallas Moms Blog and thanks, Dove!…every sketch makes me weep!).
I’m thankful the conversation and expectations are evolving, but there is one thing that still bums me out. We talk about beauty so often and put such emphasis on you girls to just believe you’re beautiful that I think we’re sending the wrong message.
Even by telling you you’re beautiful over and over again, we continue to put beauty on a pedestal, crowning it the highest accolade a girl can achieve.
Being beautiful isn’t the end-all. Not even believing you are beautiful can make you whole. Don’t hear me wrong: beauty is not bad. It’s just that you’re such a bigger deal than that. Being cute is NOTHING compared to what you can do with what’s inside of you.
Girls, looking good is not your debt to society. Being hot doesn’t solve your problems. You were created to do something more important than be a pretty face.
Do I love a nice compliment about they way I look? YES! I’ll take it any day of the week. Here’s the deal, though. There is this whole list of other things that I am either really good at or have to work really hard to bring about in my daily life. Things that I know make me a better person and can actually make the world around me a better place. Character traits like generosity, hospitality, honesty, integrity, forgiveness, self-control. I practice and apply myself to growing in these areas because they don’t always come very naturally to me.
You know what stinks? When either explicitly or through suggestion, I am led to believe that all of these actually important and powerful attributes don’t matter if my face and body are lacking.
Hear me now, girls. Real beauty is a byproduct of the character you’re building. It’s your great aunt’s kind eyes, crow’s feet wrinkles in the corners from all the smiling she’s done. Your great grandma’s bent back? She’s said more prayers for more people than you can count. When you see the oven burn scars on your grandma’s hands, know they’re there because she opens up her home so regularly to serve meals to family, friends and strangers. A sight to behold? Your aunt’s (my sister) red eyes and puffy face when she cries with me in my pain; isn’t her compassion overwhelming? It’s like she can physically feel my hurt with me. And speaking of me, sweet girls. Who knows what you notice when you look at me – I’m certain you’d be much more generous than I am with myself. Whatever it is that stands out, I pray you feel covered – completely saturated – in my love for you. THESE are your role models – remember this.
Do you see what’s happening here? Your body and face – your skin – is simply the tool you utilize to unleash the power you already have to do important, meaningful things in the lives of other people.
The BEAUTIFUL THINGS are the kindness, hospitality, compassion and love. The way you look has nothing to do with your potential for doing good and being happy. You are strong and brave and smart and hilarious and a whole host of other incredible talents that I know you are working hard at growing.
I want you girls to be able to look in the mirror and see something BIGGER than beauty. My prayer for you is that you find satisfaction in your reflection because of the way you treat others.
May your confidence be built on something that grows and lasts you a lifetime – your character – instead of on something as fleeting and temporary as a flawless face or perfect figure.
You are little wonders, my dear ones, and I can’t wait to see what you do with the world-changing power inside of you.