Finding Balance Between Prettiness and Purpose
By Emily Pardy
In a society that regards beauty in terms of waist size, it can be difficult to sustain a positive opinion about our own bodies. We all want to look and feel our best, but it can be tricky to find balance in wanting to teach our daughters about healthy living, modest fashion, and makeup skills without overemphasizing outward beauty.
Girls as young as age 3 begin to get a sense of what they should look like and develop their first ideas of the power that perception has within our society. By age 10, children learn how to cope with social and academic demands, experiencing new worlds that can shape feelings of their own competence or inferiority. In a world filled with airbrushed images and unrealistic expectations, it comes as no surprise that girls especially struggle with their idea of what beauty truly is.
As mothers, we get the privilege of delivering to our daughters a daily, living example of what inner beauty is, what it looks like, and how the power of one’s character outweighs all other qualities. Through our presence alone, we can offer a glimpse at the power of Christ in our lives.
Raising girls with a healthy body image doesn’t just begin in our home, it begins in ourselves. The more we allow truth to penetrate our ideas, the more we can reshape our own perception into a healthy influence for our children. Sure, it can seem obvious to complain less about our own bodies in front of our daughters, but this can be easier said than done. As we strive to be the best we can be, it’s crucial not to overlook the importance of our daily habits. Gradually adding in healthy habits of influence into our own lives can help us find that balance between authentic prettiness and genuine purpose.
Believe the Truth: The easiest way to start refreshing our minds is with the simple, yet powerful reminder of God’s truth. It’s not enough to just read it or speak it; you have to believe it. You were “fearfully and wonderfully made,” so it’s OK to act like it! Psalm 139:14; Proverbs 31:30; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Ecclesiastes 3:11; and 1 Peter 3:4 are great verses to start with.
The Platinum Rule: We’ve all heard of the golden rule, but have you ever considered the flip side? Treat yourself how others would want to be treated. Be kind, speak gently, listen well, and give yourself the benefit of the doubt. We can speak this truth into the lives of our daughters as we compliment them on their character strengths, encourage their confidence, and give them well-rounded praise that includes their intelligence and compassion as well as their physical features.
Christ’s Body Makes You Beautiful, Not Yours: As Christians, we recognize that we cannot save ourselves. It is only by the sacrificial, eternal love of Jesus that our bodies even have purpose. The death and resurrection of His body offers a constant assurance for us that we are worshiping God when we give thanks for His creation and treat it with love and respect. Give thanks for your body and let your children witness your gratitude.
Emily Pardy is a 30-something wife, stay-at-home mother of two, writer, and fulltime grad student. Follow her chaos at her website pardymama.com or on Twitter @ pardymama.