Dear Daughter: What I Want You To Know About Beauty
Yesterday at school was crazy hair day for my 2nd and 5th graders. The 2nd grader spiked his frohawk higher than normal and my daughter picked out her afro to where it stood up all around her head like a halo of dark brown, protruding around her face. Diana Ross would have been proud. The following conversation happened in my kitchen last night.
Me: “How was crazy hair day?”
5th grader: “So Mom. This girl in sixth grade walked by me in the hall today and told me I wasn’t pretty.”
Me: (My immediate thought was to request the girl’s name and look up her address is the school directory. Since I don’t look good in orange, I thought better of it. For now.) “Oh. Did you say anything back?”
5th grader: “I told her she had no idea what she was talking about.”
Insert high fives all around.
While I am super proud of how she chose to handle the situation, I thought about what else I wanted her to know about beauty as she gets older.
There is a lot of talk at school, your friends and currently, boys your age about what is beautiful, pretty, cute or OMG, I’ve even heard the word “sexy” come up in some of your friends conversations. I will not address the “sexy” comments, as you are currently in 5th grade and I am quite positive most of the boys in your class cannot yet spell that word, let alone know its meaning. As to the others, here it goes:
After 35 years on this planet the trends of what is and is not quantifiable as “Beauty” have changed drastically. Often times within a few fashion seasons. You are currently taller than everyone in your grade. While this is currently a notch against you in whoever claims to be ‘they’ in your social circle, just wait. High school will elongate your legs further and most of the boys will surpass you in height.
When I was in high school, worshipping the sun every weekend and looking like a fried lobster was the goal. Now we’ve educated ourselves to know skin cancer is not such a good thing. In the English Victorian era, tanned skin on a woman meant she was a savage.
What you see on TV, magazines and every other social media outlet is a lie. If those women cannot be nipped, tucked, sucked, or airbrushed by a photographer then they have been taped, sewed or stapled into whatever ridiculous outfit they are modeling. I believe in underwire bras and anything that holds in my gut, but to see a 100lb. woman looking sultry on a magazine, don’t misunderstand her look. She’s hungry and royally hacked off.
There is also the topic of your skin, which has come up with some of your classmates before. You are the color of a milk chocolate candy bar. There are no words for how absolutely gorgeous this particular feature is on you. Should anyone tell you otherwise, have them search the internet for top paid fashion models in the last five years. The top five were born outside of the United States and are varying shades of color. As is the current first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, or the CEO of Wal-Mart, Rosalind Brewer. Beautiful and smart, wow. The world never figures out what to do with these kinds of women for sure.
While the world will tell you “this” is fashionable today and not tomorrow, put on what is right.
When the world says “this” behavior will lead to fame, find the behavior that gives light to other people.
If you are to choose “this” person over “that” person for popularity’s sake, follow your heart.
And when you stand before the mirror and “this” or “that” is not pretty/popular/all the rage about your legs, thighs, lips, eyes, hair (this list will be exhaustive when you are my age), break the mirror. Remember who you are and in whose image you were created. The same being that created the stars placed your eyes exactly where he wanted them to be on your head. No amount of staring in the mirror is going to change his opinion of you; it shouldn’t change your opinion of yourself.
My prayer for you as you get know yourself, heart, body and soul is one word: enough. You, just like God made you are enough for this world. The talents you possess, the treasure you are to those around you and the things you have yet to do. They all have nothing to do with how the world views you. And every piece of who you are is beautiful.
As your mother, there may be moments when you doubt your Daddy and I’s words about your beauty. Perhaps you will remember these:
1 Peter 3:3-4 “but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
There is so much more to life than beauty. The world’s measuring stick in unattainable and not even “they” can keep it straight as to what they want.