By Diana Bryant
One of the first things we realize as parents is that our children watch every move we make. They learn by imitating us. It’s how they learn to talk and walk. Eventually, they even pick up our attitudes and habits, both good and not-so-good.
What we actually do speaks much louder to our daughters than anything we say.
Many of us have a love-hate relationship with the mirror or the scale. If you’re a mom, your daughter is watching you very closely, even when you think she can’t see. Our culture tells your daughter that her body was made to be admired and pampered and that beauty is the guarantee to popularity and success.
We may quote verses about “being fearfully and wonderfully made” from Psalm 139:14 and remind her that “man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart” from I Samuel 16:7 … but what she will memorize is how we approach our own relationship with our bodies.
Here are a few things to think about:
1. We must decide whether we really believe that physical beauty will never really fulfill us.
We tell ourselves this, but do we believe it deep down? We have to be convinced that “feeling pretty” is really just that – a feeling. Both our feelings and our physical appearance will change, and neither are as steadfast as God’s unwavering regard. KNOWING that we are valuable to God is a fact. Facts are dependable, feelings are not.
2. Be careful of the things you say about yourself.
How you judge yourself – your criticisms of your size, your features, your complexion – is how your daughter will think you judge her looks. Your expectations of yourself will become her measuring stick, only probably more exaggerated.
We are created in God’s image and He called His creation “good.” To be overly critical of our appearance to is to be critical of how God knit us together in our mother’s womb.
3. Time and money is an indicator of the importance we place on our looks.
We tell our daughters that they are valuable because they belong to God, but then we can spend an awful lot of money enhancing those looks, often based on the culture around us! To put so much emphasis on appearance and to be overly proud of our appearance is not “walking humbly with God” or giving Him the glory for His creation. It’s good to look our best, but there must be a balance.
We do need to take care of ourselves for our health, to put our best foot forward, and ultimately, to honor God’s creation. Sometimes it does cost money to stay well groomed, but it can get out of hand pretty quickly. Stewardship comes in to play in every area of our lives and our children see it all.
4. Avoid reality TV—in all forms.
Celebrities get attention from their looks, which our daughters do not realize is greatly enhanced by lighting, camera angles, and the biggie: hours of work by professional makeup artists. We understand that “reality TV” is anything but reality, but nowadays, reality TV spills beyond the television and into Instagram stories, Snapchat videos, YouTube, and more. Girls may not realize just how much time and money these stars spend to build carefully manicured public appearances–even in so-called “behind the scenes” Instagram videos.
5. Encourage attributes beyond looks — focus on doing rather than appearing.
Admire strength, manners, kindness, determination, or creativity. “I love it when you help your sister!” is still encouraging, but also emphasizes valuable traits like cooperation. “Tell me about your day” invites sharing information and feelings. Look for ways to take the focus off of self.
Give your girls opportunities to serve. Does your church or youth group have activities that focus on community service? Maybe a food pantry ministry or elderly who could use help or even a friendly visit? Fill their hearts with good and positive things. Teach your girls we were made for God’s glory, not our own.
- Battling the Image Beast printable handout
- Battling the Image Beast companion blog post to share with your teen girls
- Raising Body Confident Daughters, by Dannah Gresh
- See other resources here.