Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How I'll talk to my girls

I can't stay quiet any longer.  This has been bugging me since the end of June when a certain article began to circulate on facebook on how to talk to little girls.  I think it was my band teacher who posted it first, and since he often posts interesting links I read the entire thing.  It was well-written and riddled with statistics that I had studied in my major at BYU.  I just love me some statistics!  Yet there was something about it that I didn't like.  I just wasn't exactly sure what it was.  Before the day was over the article was posted again and interested in my own reaction I read it for the second time.

If you haven't already had this article appear on your news feed I will sum it up for you.  Lisa Bloom relates an experience of meeting a little girl and resisting giving her compliments regarding her outward appearance.  She explains that the trend in our country is to tell girls how beautiful they are first, instilling into them that worth is correlated with good looks.  Bloom then issues a challenge to not speak to little girls about their physical beauty at all.  Ask them about books and politics and the environment.  Make them think and emphasize knowledge and ideas.

Sounds great, right?  Girls ARE investing too much in their appearance.  Then what is it that bothered me so much about this article?  I think it was the idea that beauty doesn't matter much at all.  It was too extreme for me.  While the obsession with being skinny, hot, and acne free in this country is unhealthy, beauty still matters.  And I have proof.

[a]Psychologist Alan Slater of Exeter University believes that "humans may have a biologically ingrained preference for beauty."  To test his method he showed pictures of faces to adults and had them rate the faces as more or less attractive.  When these pictures were shown to babies, average two and a half days old, he discovered that "babies invariably stared longer at faces which adults had rated as more attractive."  He received the same result with babies only hours old.

Amid this study and many others similarly conducted a common factor began to emerge.  The "beautiful" faces had one thing in common: Symmetry. Found in animals as well as humans, this attraction is just as much a survival instinct as a aesthetic preference.  Three words: [b]"higher mate-value. Scientists believe that this symmetry is equated with a strong immune system. Thus, beauty is indicative of more robust genes, improving the likelihood that an individual's offspring will survive."  Can well help that we like to look at that which is lovely?  No, we're born that way.  However, beauty is not 100 pounds or a large cup size or a small nose.  That is a product of media and peer pressure.  That is what we must be aware of.

Science aside, there is another reason that I believe beauty matters.  It's a gift from God.  In Doctrine and Covenants 59: 18-19 it says, "Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul."  Our Heavenly Father wants his children to have joy and he knows that joy comes from many places and all our senses.  This is evident in His temples.  If beauty didn't matter why would He require that so much time, effort, and money put into beautifying and maintaining temples?

Temples are places for God to dwell, but temples are not just buildings.  [c]They are our bodies.  Shouldn't we treat them just as well.  Taking care of our bodies by keeping them healthy, well-groomed, and clean we are creating a beautiful environment, inside and out, where God will want to dwell.  He tells us to use what we've been given [d]"with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion."  It's clear that the statistics given in Lisa Bloom's article are all examples of a misuse and abuse of what God had given.
"15 to 18 percent of girls under 12 now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly; eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down; and 25 percent of young American women would rather win America's Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize. Even bright, successful college women say they'd rather be hot than smart"
And I'm not a proponent of this kind of abuse.  But I will not stop telling my daughter she is beautiful.  Nope, this is not the answer.  I will instead teach her what true beauty is, which is radiating joy and the light of Christ.  [e]Susan W. Tanner says, "Happiness comes from accepting the bodies we have been given as divine gifts and enhancing our natural attributes, not from remaking our bodies after the image of the world. The Lord wants us to be made over—but in His image. . . by receiving His image in our countenances."  And I think that is beautiful.


1 comment:

  1. It is very disturbing and something I have thought of a lot. I have also discussed this with my sister who has two girls. I fear having a girl for this reason. I have from the time I got pregnant and didn't know Max was a boy. If you ever talk to Christina Chase again she has some GREAT ideas about talking to girls about how wonderful they are on the inside. She has had to really instill this into her girls, especially the oldeest because of her auto-immune diesease that is eating away at her jaw bone disfiguring her face. I am sure you will do a great job with helping Andrea feel loved and beautiful on the inside and out- you can do it because you rely so much on our Heavenly Father for everything. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, you are so great Kayla!

    Lindsey Francom