We love fairy tales, don’t we? Most go a little like this:
Once upon a time, there was an exceedingly beautiful girl who was the victim of the wicked selfishness of others. She herself was perfect and her beauty and goodness prevailed against evil when her true love saw her and saved her. In the end, she was just as good and beautiful as ever, and everyone adored her extensively. And she lived happily ever after. The End
My daughter is only five years old and yet she knows these beauty tales of our shallow culture. Without prompting of any kind, her knowledge frequently surfaces in our conversations.
“That woman is old and wrinkly. Is she still pretty, Mama?”
“Why are some ladies fat, Mama?”
“My outfit isn’t pretty! I don’t want to wear it!!”
My daughter knows that wrinkles and the tides of time are not appealing to most.
She knows that fit and skinny are the eternal quest that few ever attain to their own true level of satisfaction.
This little Lady of mine hears the siren song of appearance and is lured by its demonic message- that feeling beautiful is the most important thing.
If you kneel close to the lies, they hungrily lick their lips and utter even more destructive words as they consume your soul, “Goodness and beauty should always be in your possession. If you aren’t one, you can’t be the other, and so if you feel imperfect, it means you are surely bad. Bad, bad, bad you are, and you are not worthy of a happy ending.”
We need some light for our daughters to live by.
The truth is that we are living in a fairy tale, and it goes like this:
You were born with every evil inclination and ugly feature mankind has ever known. You were not worthy of goodness or beauty. But a King on high saw you and loved you just as you were. He sent His Son to save you, and your Savior has won you His own goodness and beauty by giving His life for you. You will waste away day by day here in this life, but if you learn to love Him with all your heart, that will not matter anymore. Your face, body, and possessions will not be the source of your goodness or beauty because He will become your source in everything. He is coming back for you one day, so you can live happily ever after with Him. The End.
We must believe this good news ourselves and then we must preach it to our daughters with cunning wisdom. I have pressed truth into my relationship with my daughter in many ways, and these five have been most effective:
1. Point out beauty in others. If a stranger holds the door for you, helps you to the car at the grocery store, is tender towards a child, or elevates others above themselves in some other way, talk about that kind of beauty. I have called many women and men beautiful in front of my daughter. Some were very haggard and worn in appearance, which only served to show my daughter what is most true: God sees the beauty in His children no matter how they look on the outside, and if we seek Him, He will show it to us, too.
2. These words, “God made all things, and all God made is good and beautiful.” Remind her when she thinks someone is less than lovely, that it is God who makes us beautiful. Tell her that goodness and beauty come from Him, and that when she feels less than beautiful, God says otherwise. God doesn’t make mistakes when He makes us.
3. Embrace your own “flaws”. First of all, they aren’t really flaws. They are simply what the world considers to be less appealing. Your daughter sees and hears you. If you are confident enough to love how God has made you, she will know it. She needs to know it. You are her favorite woman in the world, and if you are secure, she will be too. When my daughter notices lines on my face, my crooked tooth, or the skin on my neck that is beginning to “relax” a bit, I laugh and say that God loves how I look and so do I. Because He does. And I do.
4. Tell her stories about when she is grown up. Tell her that someday she will be a big, tall lady who wears makeup if she wants to, and fun high heels, and flip flops with yoga pants. Tell her that when she is all grown up, God will bring her into a wonderful life, that she will probably be married and have babies of her own. Tell her that you will be the grandmother, and that you will have a beautiful, wrinkly face and gentle age-spotted hands to hold the babies so she can take a nap. Tell her that she will do great things for God, and that He will use her life to show the world His beauty and goodness. Smile and preach it to her, the way we will all live happily ever after with Him one day, because He never stops loving us.
5. Tell her she is loved. No matter what. She is loved when she makes mistakes. She is loved when she is mean to her friends. She is loved when her hair is messy and you have to leave for school anyways. She is loved while she sleeps, when she plays, when she is grumpy, and when she feels sad. Tell her Jesus came to make her good and beautiful, because he loves her, and because he wants her to live with Him forever.