What Are You Really Teaching Your Daughter About Beauty?
Weight has been an area of bondage off and on in my life for . . . well . . . forever. The issue has taken different forms: crash dieting, disordered eating, self-loathing, distraction, insecurity, anxiety, and overindulgence. But the outward behavior was always just a sign of what was going on in my heart.
The Lord brought me face to face with the lies I was believing about outer appearance, beauty, weight, and identity several years ago as a result of my work with teenage girls. They were struggling with beauty, weight, and identity big time! I was trying to talk them out of their insecurities, but it wasn’t working. I couldn’t tell them that God thought they were beautiful when I didn’t believe it myself.
And so the very short version of a very long (and wonderful) story is that God delivered me from my bondage to food, weight, and insecurity. That deliverance turned into a Bible study for the middle school small group that I led, which turned into opportunities to teach, which turned into a book, which turned into an entire speaking and writing ministry dedicated to seeing the issues of beauty and identity addressed in the lives of women by putting them through the filter of God’s Word.
Perhaps more importantly than all of that, God’s work in my heart led to an important conversation with my mom. As a young girl, I watched my mom go on every diet imaginable. I watched her make faces at herself in the mirror. I watched her duck and cover any time a camera lens was pointed in her direction. And I picked up on her struggle with beauty and weight. I thought my mom was the most beautiful woman in the whole wide world (as all little girls do). And I thought, “If there’s something wrong with my beautiful mom, there must be something wrong with me.”
When I talked to my mom about these things as an adult she said, “I thought telling you you were beautiful was enough.” And she did. She and my father lavished love and affirmation on me. But because my mom didn’t make the choice to believe what God’s Word said about her own beauty and value and worth, their compliments got lost in translation.
When I speak about beauty now, moms always want me to give them a magic formula for how to help their daughters find their identity in Christ. There is no magic formula apart from the transformational power of God’s Word, but even that might not work if we moms don’t choose to believe that the statements God makes in His Word about beauty are about us too, not just our kids.
How many of us quote Psalm 139 to our kids? It’s a good one, for sure! One of my favorites. Verses 13-14 say,
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
If you’re a mom, you know that this passage is true. You experienced your babies being knit together in your womb and you know that it is fearful and wonderful. You have no doubt that your kids have value because you were an active participant in their creation. But this is not just their creation story. This is your creation story. You were made fearfully, wonderfully, and with great intention. You are a wonderful work. I wish I could express to you how much it would change your life if you knew that “full well.”
One hard truth of parenting is that we cannot expect our children to hold on to the Truths of God more tightly than we have. Ladies, if you have daughters, you cannot teach them about their God-given beauty if you don’t believe His affirmations apply to you, too.
I’m not saying moms should never diet. I don’t know your medical state or whether or not you could benefit from some healthy changes to your diet and exercise routine. But, I am saying that there are eyes watching you more closely than you might care to admit. It may be just a diet to you, but to your daughters it’s a message about true beauty.
What is the legacy of beauty at your house? What are you really teaching your children about who God says they are by the way you act, think, and speak? In what other areas do you need to embrace God’s Truth more fully in the hopes that your children will follow your lead?
“The king is enthralled by your beauty. Honor him for he is the Lord” (Psalm 45:11).