More Beautiful You

beautyWhat defines beauty? Is it a certain hair color or body type? Does beauty have to do with the clothes you wear? Does it include your makeup or jewelry? What is it that makes one girl beautiful and another ordinary in our eyes?  Is beauty only skin deep or is it much deeper than that?

Raising a teenager is hard. Raising a teenager that has the world’s definition of beauty thrust upon them in every magazine, television show, CD jacket, or movie is even harder. Constantly witnessing their favorite stars, my daughter strives to fit in to what the world considers beautiful and cool.

But the world is not honest. It does not tell our children that stars have blemishes that need to be covered up, hair pieces that need to be added, or photos that are airbrushed before release. Puberty, growth spurts, and essential teenage awkwardness seems to skip right by those privileged enough to grace the screens and magazines, and our children wonder how they can obtain that type of perfection.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the world represented those difficult years more honestly; so that our daughters (and sons) would be able to walk through this phase as normally as possible?  Wouldn’t it be nice for the media to say it is perfectly normal to be a size two or higher in the junior sizes, that it is actually healthier for you. Or that hair does get greasy during that time, pimples do appear without rhyme or reason, and voices do change.

Perhaps my own childhood years have taught me the pain that happens when normalcy is eliminated and perfection is expected. I modeled for children’s clothing magazines, and even was seen in a few catalogs during my elementary years. I was the girl next door with the blonde hair, blue eyes, and freckles.

Then my own season known as puberty began.  My hair which was always so healthy was considerably greasy and tangled. My body was so out of sorts as my legs and arms seemed to have grown despite my body, and then I gain weight and curves that I was unaccustomed to. My face that was no longer cute with freckles, but speckled with pimples. I remember the agency telling me that they couldn’t use me anymore; not until I got out of this phase I was going through.

A phase that seems to never end for many of us, but instead defines the rest of our lives. It was during that phase that I became very distant from my body and personal well being. I covered up in baggy clothes believing I was overweight, washed my hair until I probably damaged it more than I helped it, and I started to shrink within myself. Even now, years later, my self-image is not the best; and I struggle to remind myself exactly who I am as God’s creation; and the beauty that lies within me.

It is during this phase that some of our daughters find eating disorders, struggling to be that “perfect” size. It is during that phase that many of our daughters want to be accepted, and will find that acceptance wherever they can; now defining themselves within sexuality instead of realizing the preciousness of their purity. Others will decide that being alternative or against society’s grain is the best thing, and in their efforts to be set apart only join another social group such as the Goths, or gangs.

It is during these years that we are defined.

It is during these years that we as parents need to make our voices heard. We need to remind our children that while this period in their life seems so painful and never ending, that it can also be a time of great joy and personal exploration. It is the time of their lives that they can begin to define themselves in every area, (e.g. style, beliefs, education, social groups, morals, etc.)

As parents it is a time that we need to set boundaries and explain how freedom can be found within the limits of boundaries. Think about it, as long as we obey the law, then we have nothing to fear from the law, and we are able to enjoy many personal freedoms. It is the same with our children, as long as they obey the rules established, then they will experience freedoms within those rules. It will become a safe place for them to figure out just who they are in this world.

Most importantly we need to explain that beauty is not what the world defines it to be. It is not found in a size or a hair color. It is not found in social classes or cliques. Beauty is found in our heart, and it is the person that is in the very center of us struggling to get out. Beauty is the realization of who God created us to be and letting that light shine to the world.

This is the time that we need to teach our children the second half of the greatest commandment, “to love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) It is the time that we need to teach our children what it means to love themselves, to have self-respect, self-esteem, and self-awareness. It is the time that we need to teach our children to respect their bodies, and to care for them. It is the time that we need to teach them how to say no, (to sex, to drugs, to violence, etc.) and why that is so important in the long-term. In the end, as they learn to love themselves, the light at the end of the tunnel of puberty becomes brighter, and they step out as a healthy young adult; capable of making wise decisions for themselves; capable of becoming the person God intended them to be.

Please visit the video to Jonny Diaz’s song More Beautiful You. (More Beautiful You). This song has become a favorite of my daughters, and I pray that it will speak to the lives of the women in our society on a whole. The lyrics are below.

Little girl fourteen flipping through a magazine
Says she wants to look that way
But her hair isn’t straight her body isn’t fake
And she’s always felt overweight

Well little girl fourteen I wish that you could see
That beauty is within your heart
And you were made with such care your skin your body and your hair
Are perfect just the way they are

There could never be a more beautiful you
Don’t buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you

Little girl twenty-one the things that you’ve already done
Anything to get ahead
And you say you’ve got a man but he’s got another plan
Only wants what you will do instead

Well little girl twenty-one you never thought that this would come
You starve yourself to play the part
But I can promise you there’s a man whose love is true
And he’ll treat you like the jewel you are

There could never be a more beautiful you
Don’t buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you

So turn around you’re not too far
To back away be who you are
To change your path go another way
It’s not too late you can be saved
If you feel depressed with past regrets
The shameful nights hope to forget
Can disappear they can all be washed away
By the one who’s strong can right your wrongs
Can rid your fears dry all your tears
And change the way you look at this big world
He will take your dark distorted view
And with His light He will show you truth
And again you’ll see through the eyes of a little girl

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