Being the father of a soon to be 11 year old girl has markedly raised my awareness of way we are constantly bombarded by images of the supposed ideals of feminine beauty. It is given that context that my heart sank the other night, when in the car on the way home, my daughter asked me if I thought she was fat.
I was thinking about my response to her this morning as I was listening to a public service announcement on the local sports talk station on AM radio. The name of the organization that had procured the spot escapes me, but the message was about women’s self image and the last line has haunted me.
Help the next generation of young women see their beauty as a source of confidence.
All I’ve been able to ask myself ever since hear the ad is “Really? Isn’t that the problem rather than the solution?”
I happened upon an interview with Demi Moore in People magazine recently in which she was asked about her fears. Her reply is telling. “What scares me is that I’m going to ultimately find out at the end of my life that I’m not really lovable, that I’m not worthy of being loved.”
Here is a woman that lives in the Hollywood culture of beauty. She’s been lauded for her beauty and is exactly what our culture would hold up as the standard of what a woman should look like. If anyone should be able to derive a sense of confidence from her beauty, it is Demi Moore.
But she DOESN’T have confidence. In fact, peeling back the layers reveals a deep insecurity in her value and her ability to be loved. Confidence in her beauty, developing her look, and maintaining her image have done nothing to give her a secure identity.
Physical beauty, whatever we define it to be, is fleeting. Maybe in her soul, Demi realizes this. Some day she is going to be wrinkled, sagging, and gray. Time will catch up with her like it does everyone else. Then what is there for her, or anyone else focused on the mirror for significance, to take confidence in?
Our view of ourselves is developed externally. We need an outside standard. So, it is important that we pick the right one to go back to; a cornerstone that is stable and unchanging. Physical beauty is not that standard for women or men; it is captive to whims, comparison, trends, and age. It will be facade that will exhaust the pursuer and leave them unsatisfied. Like Demi Moore.
That is why, when my daughter asked if she was fat, I first told her no. Her weight is normal for her age. We talked about how she eats lots of fruit and veggies, she exercises and is active, and that her body is changing. But, I also took the time to go further. The women she sees on TV, even the supposed plain and normal ones, are not real. It is a false standard. My daughter’s body will be shaped differently, and that is OK because God is the one who made it.
Which goes to my ultimate answer to her. Beauty is not a source of confidence. Neither is anything else that requires a value comparison or a leader board, for that will ultimately lead to being unsettled and never sure if she is good enough.
My daughter’s source of confidence should come from the fact that through Jesus, God has entered her story and invited her to be part of his. She is chosen and loved. Not because of what she’s done, but because that is what He made her for. She bears the image of the Creator and is part of Christ’s body.
Those things never change. Which makes them a true source of confidence.