It can be tricky to step into the topic of physical appearance when talking to our girls. How can we approach it in a healthy, balanced, Godly way? Take a stroll by any magazine rack and you’ll see that, unfortunately, almost all the articles in magazines for girls have to do with how they are to look. This is partly the magazine’s fault but it’s partly because we are very, very interested in physical appearance, even from an early age. My daughters’ closet is exploding with dress-up gowns, partially because they use them to pretend, but mostly, based on my observations of what they actually do in them, because the tulle and sparkles make them feel beautiful.
To an extent, it would be great if we could just turn away from that and declare that it doesn’t matter. That our bodies are carriers for what’s really important, which is, of course, the mind and the soul. But if we’re honest, that’s not possible and it’s not even true.
We can’t pretend like our bodies don’t matter to us, and we shouldn’t. God gave us our bodies, and God doesn’t do things accidentally. He is purposeful in his creation – we can see this when we look at something as wondrous as photosynthesis, or conception, or in the physics of the flight of a commercial airline, and we should see it when we look at ourselves. Our physical bodies are important to God, and therefore they are important to us.
The tricky thing here is figuring out how to avoid pitfalls on both sides – we don’t want to ignore the physical, shoving down the little voice inside of us or our daughters that asks, “am I beautiful?” Shoving our feelings down deep never goes well. But we don’t want to glorify physical beauty either, knowing how easy it is to for physical appearance to become an idol.
Our challenge, as Christian parents of daughters, is to redeem our approach to beauty.
One thing I love about the world my daughters are growing up in is that real women seem to want to embrace their own beauty rather than fitting into the Barbie mold. We don’t do that perfectly; I look at my post-baby belly and get frustrated that it doesn’t look like it used to. But I’m thankful for it at the same time; it looks that way because it grew three healthy babies. (And maybe because pizza. Get off my back.)
The Bible says that we are made in God’s image – we are image bearers. In that, we reflect God’s beauty, making us literally beautiful. Full of beauty. When we teach our daughters that; that beauty exudes from the core of their being, rather than from their eye color, hair color, weight, shape, and so on, so many of the “daughter” questions are answered. But they still need to hear that those physical traits are ALSO part of their status as image bearers. They need to hear that they’re beautiful, from the loudest voices in their little girl lives – those of their parents.
When the question, “Am I beautiful?” is answered, as it is by God from the beginning, we get to see the full expression of who this woman really is. Okay, I’m beautiful. And smart and strong and brave. Now, how will I express that? That’s where the joy of womanhood is really seen. I want to help my girls get there, I want to give them a strong foundation – they are known, loved, and yes, they are beautiful.