We all know what the voice of the world is saying to our daughters. Succeed in school. Dominate in sports. Be popular. And most of all, look gorgeous. And sadly, we are all familiar with how detrimental this societal pressure can be on our girls’ self-image.
The pressure may be more intense today than when I was in school – back when “look gorgeous” included “getting a perm” – but the messages are about the same. It seems like an intensification of the same old struggle.
Let's identify the real problem.
I’ve thought a lot about how to be a more impactful voice for my girls than “the voice of the world.” But my challenge has been figuring out what we even mean by “the voice of the world” or “society” or “popular culture,” anyway. It sounds like some disembodied, impersonal spirit.
But no, let’s name names. We’re talking about the evil one:
“For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
Once we’ve boldly identified the real problem, it seems easy to point to the remedy: Our Lord and Savior. But even knowing that Jesus is the answer, we’re still asking difficult questions. How do we lead young women to the wellspring of Jesus’ love and grace? How do we connect them to the river of His love, which runs deeper than any place the world’s voice can reach?
Reality is truly beautiful.
One way the devil lies to our children about reality is by focusing on unreality. And the best antidote to unreality is, of course, reality. How can we root our girls in God’s beautiful reality?
The natural, created world offers a great opportunity for this. It is a place where they can come to know and see and understand what beauty is. A nest of eggs, a chattering brook, a fuzzy caterpillar, a wildflower… the beauty of these things points to the Creator of beauty, “nature’s God.”
In nature we find that a beautiful thing is one that is fully what God created it to be.
All the natural things around us glorify God by living out His plan for them, large or small. When my daughter gets the time and the inner quiet to absorb this, she can see that the God who made the hummingbird just to delight her, also made her to delight Him-- and that she can best delight Him by being the woman He lovingly, artistically created her to be.
Here are two things I hope to teach my daughters about beauty:
- True beauty is simple. Simplicity is such an undervalued virtue today, so I look to appreciate with my children the simple beauty of things we encounter. The deep blue-ness of a toddler’s eyes, the memory of the way Grandma’s house smelled when she was cooking… Stop and notice the simple beauty of these things. They are not complicated or ornamented, they are not there “for show,” and they reflect God’s infinite beauty.
- True beauty is authentic. Digital editing could make that toddler’s eyes bluer in a photo. But I think my children would all agree that the real thing, in person, would beat the photo for beauty. I pray that my girls believe that each person’s beauty resides in his or her commitment to living out God’s call authentically.
God makes beautiful things.
Creation is beautiful because its author is Beauty itself. Let’s help our daughters appreciate themselves as gifts of their Creator, gifts that reflect, in an even deeper way than the things of the natural world, His awe-inspiring beauty.
Suzan Sammons is Mom to 6 daughters (toddler to college-age) and 1 teenage son. She is a homeschooling mother and a writer and editor with The Saragossa Group.