Today I sent my little girl off to the first grade, a milestone in any book. True to our parental duties, my husband and I subjected her to the obligatory photo sessions, both at the house and as we arrived at school. And my precious little girl was more than happy to oblige. She sashayed around the house in her new shoes and skirt. She admired her hair in the mirror. She happily struck pose after pose with her new backpack and lunch box. And her father told her, with each flash, that she is beautiful; she should be a model. Her amber eyes danced with the delight of knowing she is beautiful; and that someone else recognizes this truth.
Later, as I was uploading said photographs, noticing for the first time how much of a young lady my daughter has become, my reminiscing stopped short as ice filled my veins. How long does she have until she, too, becomes a slave to the lies? The time when she looks at pictures of herself, sees her reflection, and doesn’t see beauty? When, instead of delighting in her own skin, she picks herself apart; mentally ticking off features that don’t fit the fashion magazine mold. Ten years? Twenty? Two?
Because that day comes, doesn’t it ladies, when our father’s compliments (if there ever where any) aren’t valid or enough. When we unknowingly switch from casual delight in whom we are, to constantly striving to be what we never will. If only I had a body like that model…If only I was as creative/successful/organized as she…If only someone would notice me.
I worry because to some extent, it happens to every woman. It could be merely life, the sum of our personal experiences, convincing each one of us that for whatever reason, we are lacking. It could be society; the media an easy target for bearing the weight of parental and personal responsibility. Or celebrities; people so lost in darkness they can’t even find their own hearts. (I can’t condemn Miley Cyrus for her recent dance any more than I can fault a solider for the gaping hole in his chest left by a mortar round. Her world, perhaps in a more immediate sense than mine, is full of a darkness so virulent it devours innocence.) Though closer to the truth I think, is the deception of a master illusionist. One bent on the annihilation of generations. A slanderer who repeats our failures to us, reminds of us the things we are not; and tries to make us forget the things that we are.
And slowly, we trade our “if only’s” for lies. When I have a body like that model, I will be beautiful. When I am more creative/successful/organized than she, I will be happy. I will find someone to notice me, at any cost. And even more slowly, we sacrifice ourselves. We stop eating; we frantically try to control who others think we are; we push our children to be what we never were; we allow unthinkable horrors to be inflicted on our hearts. We give ourselves in ways that steal our already fragile beauty. We deny the truth that is in us in exchange for scattered moments of the fleeting semblance of the girl we once were ~ delighted with being beautiful. With being the girl God created her be.
We each are beautiful; a poem written by God, painstakingly crafted to His ideal version of who we should be. We must remember this. We must sow this truth in the hearts of our daughters; into the minds and onto the tongues of our sons. We must combat each lie with truth.
You are beautiful. You are wonderfully made. You are God’s idea of what you should be.