I just read Matt Walsh’s latest blog post, in which he writes a letter to his young daughter to tell her that she’s beautiful; and to warn her that culture will try to tell her otherwise so that it can make money off of her. That is all completely true. To be clear, I would NEVER pick a fight with Matt Walsh because A) He would debate me into a hole, and B) Although he can be quite abrasive, I respect his honesty. I don’t disagree with his message (or the TONS of other writers on this subject) about making sure girls know that the Hollywood standard of beauty is skewed, fake, empty and gross. I do tell my girls they’re beautiful and I talk a lot about finding beauty in our differences. They’re too young to have observed much pressure to be “perfect” via magazines, commercials, etc. I imagine it will be a heartbreaking process to watch them go through when they’re older and wiser; I hope Matt (my husband Matt, that is) and I are guided by God’s hand as we walk with them through that.

I get it. Important things for women to know TRUTH about: Real beauty (IE: inner beauty, lovely character, pure hearts), modesty (IE: bikinis, short shorts, cleavage), dangers of vanity (IE: needless plastic surgery, too much makeup, overspending on stuff), and pressure (IE: purity, dating, not being taken advantage of). YES. Teach the truth about these things. They’re real and important and hold value to women and girls.

Let me just ask a serious question, though: Is this ALL we think being a female boils down to?

Because these are the themes I see impressed on girls over and over again. My frustration is this: We say we need to tell girls that they’re bigger and better than the way they look and then we only talk about the way they look. Even if we’re saying “love yourself as you are” when we talk about bodies (which is positive), we are totally neglecting the depth and complexity and wealth of wonderful that comprises a woman (which is a CRYING SHAME).

This is maybe the easiest way for me to express this: I want my girls to know that WHO they are is powerful. They can lead others because of their ideas, their skills, their words, their brains. They can serve others because they are kind, compassionate, empathetic, selfless, joyful, healthy, and hard-working. And they can shine a light on God because they can do all these things FOR HIS GLORY. Their faces and bodies are only the vessel through which they do all of these ACTUALLY IMPORTANT things.

You know the Dove ads and that recent Always commercial? Oh man. So good. So real. I bawl like a baby because I see exactly where the women in our culture have wandered in our perception of who we are as a gender. I LOVE how the young girls in that Always ad are FREE and they’re happy and they’re confident. It’s so sad that, as we grow, we learn that we’re judged for just about everything we are and so we shrink into tiny, intimidated robot people. Confined little boxes that squelch LIFE MORE ABUNDANTLY. We aren’t meant to live like that, friends!

You’re BIGGER and BETTER than your body or face. You have more to offer than that. Parents, teachers, ministers: Let’s all stop concentrating solely on the physical and superficial when we talk about girls and start emphasizing the real, complex, magical traits that make us who we are. Stop discussing whether or not wearing makeup makes us “holy” and start talking about the ways we are improving our families, schools, friends, and communities. Please stop harping about clothes and promote bigger ideas about what we should be PURSUING instead of the shorts and swimsuits we should be avoiding. I want my girls to FIRST RUN TOWARD the good things instead of always RUNNING AWAY from bad things. If the only thing I do is warn them that the world is going to judge the way they look, I’m not only minimizing their complete, whole, AMAZING person-hood, I’m pointing them in the wrong direction of where I hope they end up; they’ll forever be running scared instead of running their race of FAITH.

I’m telling you, these two…they’re the BEST! I hope they never grow up. But, when they inevitably do, I hope they understand that they have SO MUCH to share with the world around them and that their flesh is simply their working resource with which to do it.

Harper on the 4th of July

Harper on the 4th of July

Cortland's first lake experience

Cortland’s first lake experience

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