Living up to "BEAUTY"

Apr 21, 2014

Beauty, pressures on girls, how to talk to your daughter about body image issues:

Click HERE to see my article for Today's Christian Woman.
Or read below:

I believe there is a huge problem in our society today. 

A problem that is causing a battle in the minds and hearts of our youth. A problem that is causing eating disorders, self esteem issues, and ultimately destruction in the lives of girls and women of all ages...

The problem that I am referring to is the standard of beauty that our society holds today and the effects of the media in our lives and how much we are all influenced by what the culture tells us about our self image and worth through ads, movies, and music. 

All women are affected by this illusion of beauty but the girls who are feeling the pressures of it are getting younger and younger as each year passes. TV, music, magazines, and all media have too large of an influence in the lives of our girls. 

I believe that moms can do something about this to protect their daughters hearts from the damaging effects of our media. 

When I was in junior high I was so strongly influenced by magazines and movies. I was influenced so much that I began talking, acting, and dressing differently when I was around my peers from school. I had subscriptions to most of the mainstream teen magazines and that is what I looked to for advice on boys, how I should look, and all things "popular". Unfortunately, the majority of those magazines are filled with advice that opposes the word of God. I remember watching the movie Mean Girls when I was in the 7th grade and looking back now I wish my mom never would have allowed me to see it. That movie was very damaging to my "so desperate to fit in" obsession that I had back then. After watching that movie I became infatuated with wanting to be like the popular girls in that movie and just fit in at school. I began dressing provocatively like them and even went as far as talking like them and making a burn book that mocked people because that is what the girls did in the movie and they were the girls who everyone wanted to be like and who every guy thought was beautiful. It saddens me to look back and see the kinds of things I did back then to try and fit in but back then I was at that age where I was so influenced by the media and was not taking the necessary steps to guard my heart. As the bible says, "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." (Proverbs 4:23). I thought I had to be as thin and tan as the girls I saw in the magazines and on the billboards. Growing up, I felt the pressures of having to look like the magazine ads in order to be accepted and worthy. One of my main problems was that I was looking to the world to find acceptance and self worth rather than looking to God for it. "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10) Is your daughter like I was? Conformed to the world and the worlds standards of value and self worth? I know that if I was that impacted by the movies, magazines, and images around me then the girls in school today must be way more influenced by it all because there is so much more going on in the media now than just a short time ago when I was their age. As role models, sisters, moms, and friends to young girls we NEED to constantly be in their lives influencing them the right way- speaking truth to them and helping them guard their hearts. I truly believe that moms need to have a more Godly influence in their daughters lives. One of the ways that you can do this is by being the right kind of example. If your daughter is looking to you as her example, what is she seeing? Does she see someone who is also very influenced by our culture and media? Do you dress or act a certain way because of what society says or do you dress and act according to what the word of God says? Do you see that you yourself are beautiful because He says you are or do you try to live up to what the world deems beautiful? Do you talk down about yourself because you fit into the mold of the images that are in the magazines? Do you read tabloids with your daughter?  Whatever you spend your time consumed with is what she will want to consume herself with, especially if you do these things together. What types of TV shows do you and your daughter watch together? When I was younger I watched a lot of reality TV shows with my parents like Paris Hiltons old reality show The Simple Life. I don't recommend doing this with your daughter. Watching shows like this and seeing how much attention and popularity these stars receive for acting in the way that they do will make your daughter want to act like them and do what they do to get the attention or value that these celebrities have. After all, the celebs are the ones in the magazine ads and are considered valuable, beautiful, and worthy and these are all things that every little girl wants to feel. (The world just teaches you to obtain it in a completely different way than the Bible does). But while celebs get this attention from having sex tapes, partying, drinking, and sleeping around on TV, we are approving of it by watching it with our daughters. I was so focused on these shows as a teen that I didn't even look to Godly women or the bible to see that living according to the word of God and for Him is where you will attain true value and self worth. Whatever consumes your daughters heart will dictate and determine how she will think, act, and view herself. So, what has been filling your little girls mind? I used to fill my mind with magazines, social media (Facebook), reality TV shows, and movies. It didn't take long before I  was consumed with my looks. Looking like celebrities, trying to be "beautiful". Now I'm consumed with Christ. Consumed with His word. Positive websites. Motivational books. I quit Facebook. Stopped reading tabloids and fashion magazines. I don't watch TV shows that support the wrong message. I am finally free of being completely influenced and shaped by our media and its idea of what beauty is. I now believe beauty is something God created to glorify Him and I think your inner beauty and desire to be a God-fearing woman is what we should strive for! These are the things we need to teach the girls of this generation. We need to encourage them to fill their hearts with good and positive things and guard their hearts by cutting out the things that lead to destruction. We need to teach them to be counter cultural. We live in this world but we are not called to be friends with the world and to live according to its ways. We are to live according to the bible. God's word should influence us so much that we do things opposite of what the world tells us. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1, 2) I encourage you to teach your daughters that the world is just trying to sell them on an illusion. How to attain happiness and beauty the way the world teaches it is just an illusion and is unattainable and leads so many girls into depression, eating disorders, insecurities, and body image issues. But happiness and beauty the way God teaches is is real and true and brings forth life! We need to teach girls that God made them the way they are and He looks at the beauty of the heart! He views them as beautifully made and it's better to focus on that than on what others think of them here on earth because we will spend eternity with him VS a short period of time with the people who reject us here on earth. He accepts us and finds us worthy as we are but the world will not accept us as we are and is always giving us ways to change ourselves. Inner beauty is not promoted nearly as much as it should be in today's society. That is why it is up to you moms to share with your daughter about the true way to be beautiful and praise her for her inner qualities and steer her away from what will bring her little heart into insecurities.

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