“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” Psalm 139:14 (NIV).
Something interesting happens in my house each morning as I get ready for the day. My 9-month old daughter watches me intensely as I apply my makeup. For some reason, she is fascinated by my ritual. She grabs for my compacts, eye pencils, and brushes. It’s making me very uncomfortable.
It doesn’t make me uncomfortable because I’m afraid she’s going to destroy my $20 Makeup Designory pencils. I’m uncomfortable because I wonder what unintentional message I’m sending to her as I strive to put my best face forward. Now, I’m not one of those women who use makeup to completely transform their appearance. Popular gossip blogs call these kinds of transformations “makeup sorcery.” I use makeup to enhance the features I feel are most attractive such as my eyes and lips and to hide imperfections such as blemishes and under-eye circles. My goal is to look like my best self. My daughter doesn’t understand all of that though. All she sees is Mommy fixing her face before she presents it to the world. Maybe she will think she needs to fix herself too?
I always knew I would have to be intentional about combatting a negative self-esteem in my daughter. There are so many powerful forces telling her she’s not good enough. Most women, including myself, have wrestled with self-esteem issues and the negative messages of the media.
“My lips are too big!”
“My feet are too flat and long!”
“I’m too fat!”
“My hair is not straight enough!”
These are some of the statements I made about myself during my adolescence. In his documentary, “Good Hair,” Chris Rock talks about the self-esteem issues his daughters faced when they compared their hair to the Caucasian girls’ hair in their school. They wanted to know why their hair wasn’t good enough. The documentary “Dark Girls” also addresses self-esteem issues in black girls related to skin color. Many young girls deem themselves unattractive because their skin is too dark. There is a new generation of African-American mothers emerging who are cutting their relaxed hair to model to their daughters the beauty of natural, kinky hair. I think this is awesome.
What can we do to affirm our girls?
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes” 1 Peter 3:3 (NIV).
I believe our daughters will accept themselves when we accept and love ourselves. As in most cases with parenting, children don’t believe what we say. They watch what we do. The cliché is correct. Actions speak louder than words. If we want our daughters to accept and respect themselves, we must model to them what it looks like. Will I stop wearing makeup? No, but I will be more intentional about modeling to my daughter that I’m not only concerned about my outside appearance, but I’m also concerned about cultivating my spirit. Before I put on makeup, she will see me open the Bible. Before I style my hair, she’ll see me deep in prayer. I want her to know that no amount of makeup can cover up an ugly spirit. I will continue to tell her everyday she’s beautiful, and I will believe it about myself.
What do you do to help the girls and young women in your life accept themselves?
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