As yet another week ends with viral news spreads of a woman showing a little too much (and doing so proudly), I find myself frustrated with the world my daughter will grow up in. She is only one and a half, but already, I am concerned for her future self-image; body image, self-worth, and what attributes she has that she’ll see as valuable.
I thought about linking to the most recent story, but I’m not going to spread it further and make you want to look.
You know the type I’m referring to, so save your eyeballs, and just keep reading.
When I was my daughter’s age, this type of behavior was considered scandalous. Don’t you remember when Madonna was considered too risqué? I wish we could go back to THAT, and even that is more than I want her to think is OK.
Today, it’s merely a blip of photos gone viral, only to be outdone by someone else on Monday. Instead of being rightly shocked and appalled, we are so inundated with it that we barely bat an eye. Some have their eyes glued to it, while others roll our eyes. FEW avert their eyes.
We accept that they exist because they are everywhere. Instantaneously. Accessed within seconds. Forever in cyberspace. Images are on social media news feeds, website homepages and sidebars, television and radio, billboards, or even in the coffee shop where you sit trying to focus on something else.
Censoring isn’t really possible today. Even if you look away, you saw a glimpse of more skin than you wanted to. Somehow, the media and world (including other women?) celebrate these so-called ’empowered’ women.
NEVER will the words “good for her” be uttered from MY lips for this.
You may be wondering what that means above…there was a long rant there. I removed it because, frankly, it doesn’t need to be said, yet again. I am not here to judge those who decide to post their photos online. I’m guessing they do not know God, and I can’t expect them to live to His or my standards. I am also sure that society has praised their actions, paid them handsomely, and I won’t deny that they are indeed, beautiful. And, I know that it takes a considerable effort to look that way. Time and effort I don’t dedicate to it. When I re-read what I had written, my words were not kind, so I took them out. Tearing down another woman isn’t helpful and won’t resolve the problem.
A rant is not the purpose of what I am writing today. We already know the harm these images do to both women and men, girls and boys. Both are affected, negatively. It cannot and should not be ignored.
That is why I rejoice when I read articles like this one; a proactive approach to help our kids learn and know something different. Tools and words to educate our kids. Well said.
No little girl (or boy) should stop eating, take diet pills, or save pennies for plastic surgery. Nor should they feel less-than because of judgmental glances or words by others. But, the content keeps coming. And we all suffer from a misguided bombardment.
While I avoid looking, I know the images are there. I can’t escape it and see images before I can turn my face away. Images are powerful. They imprint in your mind and can be recalled. It BOTHERS me. I find myself looking at my post-two-precious-babies body, and feeling self-conscious that it looks DIFFERENT. I question my beauty, and my worth because I do not live up to our society’s, albeit WRONG, standard. And I know better!
So what now?
First, I use care when getting ready to show my daughter that it doesn’t need to take HOURS. Spend too much time in the mirror, and you can primp, curl, and cover and look like SOMEONE ELSE. But I don’t want her to. I want my daughter to look like herself. I watch my words about my own body. She will not hear me telling myself that I am too fat, don’t like THAT wrinkle, or wish I looked differently. I censor any self-judgement for her, and for ME. I get dressed in clothes that fit and are modest in nature, and focus on looking nice for my HUSBAND. I have only a handful of makeup items and spend no more than 10 minutes ‘primping and curling’ unless it is for a very special occasion.
On that note, my SON will not hear or see those things either. He will see what a ‘normal’ female is like, and I hope he will desire THAT for his future wife.
It doesn’t mean I don’t want to look nice, or struggle with body image. But, really, I just want to look like ME. While I will continue to exercise and eat healthily, my hair won’t ever be perfect, nor will my body. I will not take strange dieting herbs or inject any toxin into my face. No thank you. I will just look like me; aging slowly, like everyone else. Only I hope to do it gracefully.
For my children’s sake, I put my scale and mirror away, and try to align myself with what God sees and teach them to do the same.
I pray and have prayed daily, for my daughter’s future self-image. I will persist because the images persist.
I pray that her self-image will be as her mom and dad see her. And, even better, how God sees her.
Loved by God.
Loved by her mom and dad and countless others.
With great potential.
Intended for a great purpose of eternal value.
Responsible to take CARE of her body by eating healthy and exercising, but to be modest in the expression of it.
To make every effort to do this:
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2 (The Holy Bible, ESV)
All these truths, I desire for her to KNOW to her CORE so the world will not shake her, or cause her question her value.
Pray for your daughter, wife, granddaughter, niece, and friends today. Any woman is subject to these attacks. Pray also for your son, husband, grandson, nephew and friends. That they would know the truth that a woman’s value and beauty is not encapsulated by the exterior. I am.
With the way things are going, you can’t pray, teach or love them enough. Talk about the truth and be sure your little ones KNOW that the world’s view of a woman’s body is both incorrect and dangerous.
Censor what you can. Let the things they see in your home and hear from your mouth be pure in content.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” – (The Holy Bible, Philippians 4:8, NIV)
Undoing what society throws at them will take focused effort. It is an ongoing battle and it won’t be ending anytime soon.
Are you fighting it?