This morning instead of her usual request for Disney princesses or fairies, my eldest daughter asked if we could watch a VeggieTales movie called "Sweetpea Beauty". I couldn't resist this request as it's a very short DVD and has a message I would gladly spend every day for the rest of her life drilling in. The theme is on beauty, but not in the way you'd expect. They take two classic princess fairy tales, Cinderella and Snow White, and revamp them to be about true beauty instead of society's image of what physical beauty should look like. As I watched my daughter (and her two very obliging brothers who love the movie too) enraptured by the cute animated vegetables retelling her favourite stories I couldn't help but wonder if any of it was sinking in.
She's only 4 and all of her little lady friends are still completely unconcerned about their looks. Or better yet, they're still at that age where everyone is beautiful and fabulous because they haven't been told to think otherwise. Their parents are just as careful as we are to instill the belief that true inner beauty radiates out. Like her friends, her true belief right now is that everyone and everything is beautiful unless she's told otherwise. I wonder how long I can protect her like this and how hard I will have to work to always keep a sense that she is truly beautiful, both inside and out. I know we don't focus on physical beauty too much in our house, but once she goes to school I can't control what others say. It was in elementary school that I recall that brand of bullying starting. Part of me is already beginning to grieve the idea that some day she will look at herself and see some imperfection or flaw. Or worse that one of her school mates will make the leap for her and point out some area of her appearance that will cause her to doubt her whole self. Our society has become so obsessed with the idea of perfectly symmetrical, stick thin women. Will she believe that she measures up to this standard?
My hope in all of this is that if we work hard with her now to understand that beauty isn't just about the physical part, but also about her heart, intelligence and talents, she will learn not to measure herself against airbrushed pictures and starved starlets. I pray that she will see herself with the same joy and wonder I did the day I first held her. There are no imperfections, only variations that make her special and wonderful. My beautiful child and not just a mass produced doll. With whose eyes will she see? The eyes of society or the eyes unconditional of love? I know, just like the rest of us, she'll struggle and have bad days, but in those moments I can only pray she hears the still small voice reminding her she was planned, her creation already known by her Creator before there was time. She is wonderfully made and loved by her family and the Father who wrote her name on the palm of his hand. She is worth loving. She is beautiful.