Today’s Table talk is by our friend Erin Schreyer. When I saw the following FB post on Erin’s page, I hounded her to write a moatblog entry on the subject.
“When we mothers focus our attention and resources on trying to look younger, skinnier or different, we tell our daughters that 1) God’s work was not good enough; and 2) our worth is determined by the way we look. NEITHER is true. We MUST talk about and model the difference between HEALTH and EGO. Our girls’ confidence, value and future decisions depend on it.”
It’s a super important topic, especially when tween/teens hit the scene. So thanks for stepping up to the plate Erin, for letting me hound you and for sharing from the heart. We appreciate your food for thought and your encouraging words.
Feel free to join in the conversation … and as always, thanks for walking the road with me.
I had always heard that Dallas was known for its beautiful women. After moving here almost two years ago, I can attest that it’s no myth. Everywhere you go in the Metroplex, you’ll find women who appear nearly perfect.
I can recall wondering, “what’s in the water…and how can I make myself drink ten gallons a day?”
I wish it were that easy. To not feel intimidated. To not feel different. Instead, to feel confident. To accept our own unique beauty.
To fully rest in the knowledge that each one of us was lovingly, thoughtfully, perfectly and uniquely created in His image….to know we’re all beautiful.
If I’m honest, I’ll admit I struggled with this after becoming a resident of the Lone Star state. Here I am in the Bible belt, and yet instead of embracing how I was made, I got caught up in the comparison game. And, rarely, if ever, did I “win” the comparison in my mind.
I lost my confidence. I lost my way.
…Until I strengthened my faith again.
…AND, until I realized that my thoughts and actions could influence my daughter; my sweet seven-year-old, who is taller and “bigger” than most of the other little girls her age.
She wasn’t created to be a slight ballerina. She’s built just like her momma, and she’ll have the potential to be a great, physical athlete, if she wants to pursue that.
In the meantime, until she embraces her strengths, she asks me, “Am I fat? The other girls on the playground say I’m fat.”
I respond, “No. You’re beautiful. You’re healthy and strong and made very intentionally by God. He doesn’t make mistakes. He made you just the way you’re supposed to be.”
And, I believe that. Fully. She is beautiful. And no, she’s not “skinny,” but she is strong, healthy, full of energy and enthusiasm, brimming with joy and innocence, and easily influenced, just like any other child who receives the same messages almost constantly from our media, culture, society and images….and us.
Television, social media, billboards, magazines, music and virtually most of the retail industry support an unhealthy myth that not only ties a woman’s value to her appearance, but also defines an unrealistic image of what “pretty” even is.
Does anyone even age anymore? Do they gain an ounce, even when they’re pregnant? What if (gasp!) your own daughter couldn’t fit into the clothes at Abercrombie & Fitch? Would she be as uncool or unattractive as their CEO says?
What if she tried, through every means possible, to fit the mold of an A&F or Victoria’s Secret model (who gets a prime-time slot for a “fashion show”)??? Girls can easily internalize that pressure.
The cases of eating disorders in females ages 10-39 tripled between 1988 – 1993. It’s ten years later today. I wonder how much that number has increased? I can only imagine, as the pressure sure does seem greater with each passing year and with every advancement in technology and communication.
So, what are our daughters to do?
I believe in most cases, they’re going to look to their mothers first. They’ll pay attention to her cues. They’ll watch what she does, and they’ll listen to what she says…but they’ll really watch what she does.
I started noticing this last year, when my daughter was in kindergarten. It was then that I realized I needed to communicate and model two important lessons:
- We are God’s handiwork, and His work is beautifully brought to life each of us. We are good enough. We were modeled after Him. (So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. ~Genesis 1:27)
- Our worth is not determined by our appearance. We are so, so much more. Our lives have much more depth, greater meaning and important purpose. (The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. ~1 Samuel 16:7)
Now, before I make choices about my appearance, I think about how that will impact my daughter (and, frankly my son too. I want to help shape how he views and treats women as well.) I’m a mom. It’s not just about me anymore. I must model my belief and trust in these two points.
Of course I want to look my best, and I absolutely want to be healthy…but I need to challenge myself to consider if my choices are for my health or for my ego.
That’s an important distinction, I believe. If it’s for my health, then I am honoring the temple God gave me. If it’s for my ego, then I am unwisely putting my pride and self-worth in something other than God. It’s also likely something that is fleeting and assuredly not as solid and sustaining. Nothing in this world is as consistent as Him.
I’ve learned that if I remain focused on God, these choices are clearer. My judgment only becomes fuzzy when I allow myself and this world to cloud the truth. It’s a discipline that, for me, is learned and practiced. Over and over.
It’s worth it though, both for myself and my daughter. Because we are beautiful, and when we focus on God, we can believe it.
Dallas women sure are pretty…but there’s not a woman more beautiful than one whose value comes from the Lord.
God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. ~Genesis 1:31
…And perfectly beautiful. Just the way you are.
Erin Schreyer is a 40-something mom of two, wife, entrepreneur, leadership coach, speaker, trainer and life enthusiast! You can find more information about Erin on her company’s website and on LinkedIn. Follow and LIKE Erin’s Facebook pages for Sagestone Partners and Strengths and Sisterhood.
Beautiful post. I’ve thought about this alot as I’ve raised my 4 kids. My only daughter just graduated high school last month and is in Honduras on a mission trip. I have not been shy telling her how much regret I have over buying into society’s lies when I was a teenager, overcome by an eating disorder. She seems healthier than I was, but here near Nashville, Bible Belt and all, it’s easy to want to run out and spend a fortune on cosmetic surgery! LOL But in then end I’m reminded that beauty is as beauty does.
Such a good word, Gina. Thanks for sharing!