Guest Post: How Scripture can Support a Healthy Self-Image

self image

Editor’s Note: I don’t have any daughters, but I remember being influenced by the trends and popular culture in my youth. And in today’s world, it’s even harder for young people to avoid this trap. In today’s guest post, Amelia shares her story about how she helped her daughter to not allow the world to define her beauty.

As an educator and mother, I am often bewildered at how easily young girls are influenced by trends and celebrities. When my daughter approached me at eleven, asking to wear makeup, I was flabbergasted. My immediate reaction was to firmly deny the request.

“No! Absolutely not!” my mind was screaming. But I learned long ago (with the boys) that when I parent with my emotions, my children are more likely to react equally as emotionally – and stubbornly.

So I asked her, “Why?”

Breathlessly, she explained that most of her friends had been wearing makeup since fourth grade, and she was beginning to feel like an outcast. I asked who of her friends were wearing makeup, half hoping I could strike them from the friend zone; but as she began rattling off each girl’s name and the type of makeup she wore, I became even more flabbergasted because I had never noticed that most of them were wearing makeup.

I didn’t give her an answer that day. Instead, I prayed and conducted research and prayed some more. I found that fashion models as young as 14 are paraded down runways in full makeup and that cosmetics companies market to young girls as aggressively as tobacco companies target teens.

The next time we talked about it, I said, “Joanna, what makes you feel pretty?”

She blushed and said, “I really like that way I look in my new blue jeans with the rhinestones.”

That’s when I realized I had been letting the world teach my little girl about beauty. When I was younger, the pressures weren’t as high. Like my mother and grandmother, worrying about beauty was reserved for special occasions like dances and weddings. It was something of a frivolity, nothing that demanded a lot of our time or attention.

I told her that I didn’t think she was ready to wear makeup, and I apologized for not teaching her more about beauty. Together, we started our own mother-daughter beauty class. For a year, we discussed scripture and the great feminine figures of the Bible. That year, I learned a lot about inner beauty as well and grew stronger in the Lord with each new day.

As I was driving her to her first day of seventh grade, I asked her, “So do you feel pretty today, Joanna?”

She said, “Oh, mom, I feel pretty every day.”

Thanks be to God!

Here are a few of the verses we studied.

Beauty

Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Ezekiel 28:17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you

Fashion

Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

1 Peter 3:3-4  Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

Body Image

1 Timothy 4:8  For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Spiritual Growth

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

In a world driven by vanity and materialism, it is easy for teenagers to succumb to feelings of insecurity. When young women begin to compare themselves to models in magazines, they lose sight of the true standards for beauty that are set in scripture.

Peer pressure can lead to a desire for trendy clothes and more expensive things. Such hollow desires will never satisfy human need for value, but some young women become convinced that these things are necessary for happiness.  Without a grounded sense of humility, vanity can become a black hole of desire that is never satisfied.

Such skewed versions of beauty can also produce an unhealthy body image and can diminish self-esteem. In the United States, it is estimated that 7 million women have eating disorders and 50 percent of girls between 11 and 13 consider themselves overweight; a majority of those with eating disorders develop them before college.

Please join me in praying for all the young girls and women who are suffering from unhealthy body image and low self-esteem. I pray that they find value and self-worth in the type of beauty set forth by God and not by the vanities of the world.

Amelia Wood is a former school teacher who now works in medical billing and coding. She is passionate about how societal pressures affect public health. Direct any questions or comments to amelia1612@gmail.com.

 

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