It sometimes feels like we live in an age of beauty. Mass media, blogs, Facebook, magazines; they all compete for our attention. They constantly attempt to sell not only products of beauty, but attitudes and habits too. Before even realising what has happened we become trained by society to compare ourselves to expectations and definitions of beauty the world has fashioned for us. And then, if we’re not careful, we pass on these expectations to the children – especially little girls – around us.
How often have you heard young girls complimented first on their appearance? This may seem innocent enough, until you listen more closely and realise that little girls are often only complimented on their looks and not on their character, personality, skills or confidence. Subtly, subtly us adults have bought into the lie that external beauty is what matters most (especially if you are a girl) and without even thinking we pass that value on to the next generation.
But how can we challenge these expectations, especially if we claim to follow a God who values the heart over outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7)? I wonder if a good place to start might be to prayerfully consider some of the following questions:
- What do I value about myself? What do I wish I could change?
- How often do I complain about my physical appearance? How often do I give thanks for the way God made my body?
- How much worldly advertising do I allow in my home?
- How do I praise the little girls in my world? What do I focus on, and why?
- How would Jesus define beauty? Does my definition match up to his?
- What do I need to change – consumer choices, language used, beliefs held about personal self-worth etc. – in order to value beauty the way God does?
- How can I live to prioritise what really matters in an ‘age of beauty’?