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A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook, “How do I teach my daughters about real, true beauty? How do I help them understand that it comes from within in a society that is all about outer appearance?”
The stakes are high. If we don’t teach them what real beauty is, the culture will eat them alive.
Did you know there are spas and salons that actually cater to the 0-12 year old age group? Is that crazy? I mean, I like to take my girls to get their hair cut, and I think we have fun getting pedicures and stuff at home–but it’s not like a “thing.”
They don’t go around talking about their “stylist,” and how to “get the look,” or anything. They just braid each other’s hair and borrow my flat iron.
Here is one account of this new trend:
On a recent Sunday in Brooklyn, I stumble into a spa that brands itself for the 0 to 12 set, full of tweens getting facialed and glossed, hands and feet outstretched for manis and pedis. “The girls just love it,” says Daria Einhorn, the 21-year-old spa owner, who was inspired by watching her 5-year-old niece play with toy beauty kits.
The article goes on to say:
a generation that primps and dyes and pulls and shapes, younger and with more vigor. Girls today are salon vets before they enter elementary school. Forget having mom trim your bangs, fourth graders are in the market for lush $50 haircuts; by the time they hit high school, $150 highlights are standard. Five-year-olds have spa days and pedicure parties. And instead of shaving their legs the old-fashioned way—with a 99-cent drugstore razor—teens get laser hair removal, the most common cosmetic procedure of that age group.
What? What insanity is this?
Okay, I have to freely admit here that it would be insanity for me to trim anyone’s bangs. I can’t cut in a straight line. It’s some sort of weird thing. I was born without the ability.
Five year old mani/pedi parties?
However, I find it startling that 43% of 6-9 year olds are already using lipstick or lip gloss, and 38% of them are using hair styling products.
It’s kind of cute when the kids want to put on make up because they watch mom doing it (something that has never happened here because I don’t wear makeup. Truly, how could I even consider doing anything to cover up the masterpiece that is moi?).
It’s funny when they play “salon” and try doing hairstyles on dad, but why does a six year old girl need “product” and lipstick?
Except for on Halloween (which we don’t really do, either, so my kids are completely out of the loop. We are so not getting invited to the next preschooler mani/pedi party.)
What is distressing is that that eight- to 12-year-olds in this country already spend more than $40 million a month on beauty products, and teens spend another $100 million. It is also frightening that cosmetic surgeries for the 18 and under group have doubled over the last decade.
Finally, another statistic that shows the problem: 42 percent of first- to third-grade girls want to be thinner, while 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of getting fat. “When you have tweens putting on firming cream”—as was revealed by 1 percent of girls in an NPD study—”it’s clear they’re looking for imaginary flaws,” says Harvard psychologist Nancy Etcoff.
That makes me want to cry. It really breaks my heart.
This attitude inevitably leads to the path of plastic surgery. Here are a few quick quotes:
“Glee” star Charice Pempengco, 18, got Botox. Yes, that’s right, Botox. Because, as we all know, 18-year-olds get a lot of wrinkles. But then again, teenagers are willing to go to some extreme lengths for beauty, like putting illegal and unregulated lenses in their eyes to make them look bigger [to look like an anime character or Lady Gaga]. Or asking for breast implants as a birthday or graduation gift.
Breast implants and liposuction are now bestowed by parents as graduation or birthday gifts. Some doctors say they have performed breast augmentations on baby-boomer mothers and their teenage daughters.
Critics say that teenage girls, who tend to be both obsessed and dissatisfied with their looks, are too young and shortsighted to understand the implications of surgery, particularly the risks that implants may pose and the long-term maintenance they require. Among them are the possibility of rupture or permanent scarring, the need for periodic operations to replace or remove the devices, potential interference with breast-feeding and mammography, and unresolved questions about their long-term safety.
The good news is that there are women who are redefining beauty as something that has nothing to do with silicone or wax or eye lashes. I found this particular post truly inspiring:
I know that I have to somehow figure out how to love myself. Everything that I saw, everything that I still see as a fault, I have to learn how to embrace it as a strength rather than a liability. I already think that she is perfect in every way, and that won’t really change. If I want her to see herself that way, too, I can’t just tell her, I need to model it for her. That way, maybe I can break the cycle of women who see perfection all around themselves and never in themselves.
…women need to define beauty on their own terms. All of our families are different, but each is beautiful. Each family has traits and physical features that repeat themselves with each generation of girls born to them. We honor our daughters by giving them a legacy of loving these traits and teaching these as the definition of beauty.
Here are some more ideas on how to teach our girls about true beauty. Read these and think about how they can help you so you can help your daughters, nieces, or cousins, friends, or others that you mother.
Elder Holland has this to say in his address, “To Young Women”:
Indeed, in the restored light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a woman, including a young woman, occupies a majesty all her own in the divine design of the Creator. You are, as Elder James E. Talmage once phrased it, “a sanctified investiture which none shall dare profane.”
I say to you what the Prophet Joseph said more than 150 years ago: “If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates.”
I think part of our beauty regimen should be to remember that we already are a “sanctified investiture which none shall dare profane.”
Part of our beauty regimen shouold be to truly have angels as our associates.
Every young woman is a child of destiny and every adult woman a powerful force for good. I mention adult women because, sisters, you are our greatest examples and resource for these young women. And if you are obsessing over being a size 2, you won’t be very surprised when your daughter or the Mia Maid in your class does the same and makes herself physically ill trying to accomplish it. We should all be as fit as we can be—that’s good Word of Wisdom doctrine. That means eating right and exercising and helping our bodies function at their optimum strength. We could probably all do better in that regard. But I speak here of optimum health; there is no universal optimum size.
Frankly, the world has been brutal with you in this regard.
Is an unhealthy obsession with counting calories and measuring belly fat helping your body to maintain its optimum strength?
Is part of our beauty/weight plan a realization that there is no universal optimum size?
In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance—tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled—those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children.
Elder Faust, who I personally think has a beautiful way of speaking to women, speaks of virtues as defining righteous daughters of God. First, he quotes a lovely definition of virtue:
Virtue is the chiefest beauty of the mind, the noblest ornament of humankind. Virtue is our safeguard and our guiding star that stirs up reason when our senses err.
He then goes on to list ten virtues, that I believe are better than any beauty or self-esteem tips. This talk is required reading every six months for myself and my daughters. It is kind of like our little beauty guide. We read and reread it together. The virtues are:
If these ten virtues were part of our daily beauty/weight regimen, our girls would know what real beauty is. They would internalize it.
Development of these virtues would surely lead to a beauty that surpasses most. President Faust promises us that if we will develop feminine traits, we will be appealing and even irresistable.
These are challenging times. I believe your spirits may have been reserved for these latter days; that you, like Esther, have come to earth “for such a time as this.” It may be that your most significant, everlasting achievements will be your righteous influence on others, that your divine feminine inner beauty and intuition will find expression in your quiet strength, gentleness, dignity, charm, graciousness, creativity, sensitivity, radiance, and spirituality. Enhance these sublime feminine gifts. They will make you appealing and even irresistible as you serve others as the handmaidens of God.
A doing-her-best-to-keep-the-commandments daughter of God cannot be ugly.
You are not ugly. You are absolutely beautiful and divine.
The world may be blinded, but the truth of the matter is, as daughters of God who are giving it our best shot, we cannot be anything but lovely.
President Hinckley once said, “Every woman is a daughter of God. You cannot offend her without offending Him.”
And this is the most important thing to remember. We must include as part of our daily ritual in “getting ready” the idea that we cannot look in the mirror and be offensive to our own bodies and hurt God by degrading ourselves over a pimple, a roll, wrinkle, sag, invisible or visible cellulite, or whatever it might be.
Elaine S. Dalton recently spoke of President McKay’s wife and her “deep beauty”:
Hers was a beauty that cannot be purchased. It came from years of seeking the best gifts, becoming well educated, seeking knowledge by study and also by faith. It came from years of hard work, of faithfully enduring trials with optimism, trust, strength, and courage. It came from her unwavering devotion and fidelity to her husband, her family, and the Lord.
…I learned about what I now call “deep beauty”—the kind of beauty that cannot be painted on, surgically created, or purchased. It is the kind of beauty that doesn’t wash off. It is spiritual attractiveness. Deep beauty springs from virtue. It is the beauty of being chaste and morally clean…It is a beauty that is earned through faith, repentance, and honoring covenants.
…The Lord would tell you that you are each uniquely beautiful.
Are those the kinds of things we put on in the morning before or instead of makeup? Are we weighing how many pounds make up our physical body, but neglecting to weigh how much virtue makes up our spirit? If we are, our girls will inherently begin to understand what real beauty is.
I think it all begins with us–we have to start seeing the beauty in ourselves, and then our girls will feel it, too! Remember:
Every young woman is a child of destiny and every adult woman a powerful force for good.
Let’s be that force for good.Leave a comment