The pressure on a young girl to be pretty is one of the greatest weights on the female mind—especially in the Western world.
In his 2001 book Bringing Up Boys, Dr. James Dobson tells a story that all parents of girls should heed. When Western television penetrated the islands of the South Pacific for the first time, it “projected images of gorgeous, very thin actresses who starred on Melrose Place, Beverly Hills 90210 and other teen-oriented shows. Four years later, a survey of 65 Fijian girls revealed how their attitudes had been shaped (or warped) by what they had seen. Almost immediately, the girls began to dress and try to fix their hair like Western women.” Officials, he reported, saw “serious changes in eating habits among … adolescents. Those who watched tv three times per week or more were 50 percent more likely to perceive themselves as ‘too big’ or ‘too fat’ than those who did not. More than 62 percent had attempted to diet in the previous 30 days.”
The pressure to be pretty is a monstrous thing. Add to that how society defines pretty, and it can be perilous. It can produce in our daughters a dangerous cocktail of vanity, materialism, health problems and a host of character flaws.
Do our young girls have any hope to escape the rank deception that comes their way about their physical appearance? How can the false images popular culture relentlessly thrusts on them be combatted?
The answer lies in the home, with the parents—particularly the father!
Make Your Daughter Beautiful
Fathers: You have a special role as the first male authority in your daughter’s life to ensure that she not only feels beautiful but that she also knows what true beauty is!
How can we make our daughters beautiful in a godly way? The answer lies in understanding how God adorned the first woman.
When God clothed Adam and Eve in animal skins (see Genesis 3:20-21), the Hebrew for clothed means to don with apparel or raiment—namely outer garments. It “implies adding attractiveness rather than hiding shamefulness” (Herbert W. Armstrong, The Missing Dimension in Sex—request a free copy). Being clothed with raiment can make your daughters prettier. Yet, this Satan-dominated society often wants to define “pretty” by how much skin you show. Of course, different contexts (and even cultures) allow for different coverings.
If you want your daughters to be beautiful, adorn them (and teach them how to adorn themselves) God’s way. Teach them that modest apparel makes them more beautiful. It is ugliness to be immodest, which can arouse lust in a man and lead to more ugliness.
What’s more, the main seat of physical beauty for the female is not in the body or the clothing. It is in the face.
How Supermodels Make Themselves Ugly
Dale Carnegie, in How to Win Friends and Influence People, relates a story about a dinner party he attended. “One of the guests, a woman who had inherited money, was eager to make a pleasing impression on everyone. She had squandered a modest fortune on sables, diamonds and pearls. But she hadn’t done anything whatever about her face. It radiated sourness and selfishness. She didn’t realize what every man knows: namely, that the expression a woman wears on her face is far more important than the clothes she wears on her back.”
Yes, every man—every father—knows that. How often do you remind your daughter that the most beautiful thing about her is her smile? Yet how many “beautiful” women grace magazine covers with sour looks on their faces? It’s meant to be seductive or sexy, but as a man and father, I’m troubled by it. Not only is it intimidating, it’s not nearly as pretty. Teach your daughter that she exudes beauty when she has a positive attitude and expression on her face.
Mr. Armstrong wrote, concerning sex appeal, that it “is somewhere between 95 percent and 99 percent what one sees from the neck up! It is, mostly, what one sees in the face of the other which exerts the appeal” (op. cit.).
But our deceived society and its fashion designers seem to think that beauty is 95 to 99 percent from the neck down. Modern fashion wants to show as much cleavage as possible, or as much of the top of the rear end as possible, or when swimming, to show as much of the gluteus maximus as possible. Yes, God designed those areas to be beautiful in a marital relationship. But ask your daughter: Does she want to be a mere object? Or would she rather attain beauty the way God intended it to be done—by living a happy life that shines through the face and then adorning the rest of her body modestly in a way that highlights her figure but doesn’t draw undue attention to it over her character, mind, sparkle, energy and smile?
God is not against outward beauty, but He also says it is vain: It won’t last but a few years—it’s merely a TYPE of the spiritual beauty God wants to praise us for. Still, God made sure Eve was physically appealing to her husband. God’s Word describes women like Sarah, Rebecca and Esther as outwardly beautiful.
A Facelift for Free
God’s Word also has a lot to say about hairstyles, jewelry, cosmetics and clothing. Isaiah 3:16 shows that the end-time decline of our nations is directly tied to the improper values in women’s appearance—the power they try to exert through their beauty—whether in applying cosmetics or in walking seductively. The rest of that chapter says God will strip them of their beauty and ornaments. This society, preoccupied with its warped sense of beauty, is about to be destroyed.
What our daughters need most of all is real, LASTING spiritual beauty. You can help give that to your daughter. Ecclesiastes 8:1 says “wisdom maketh [the] face to shine.” Teach her the truth about eternal, inward beauty and that will cause her face to shine more than all those who spend thousands of dollars a year in keeping their face “lifted.”
The Apostle Peter, using jewelry metaphors, exhorts Christian women to focus their adorning on the “hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:4). He also points to the outwardly beautiful Sarah, wife of Abraham, to teach where her real beauty lay: Her trust in God and His government gave her the most beautiful adorning any woman could desire (verses 5-6). This is the fundamental lesson in spiritual comeliness.
In 1 Timothy 2:9, the Apostle Paul addresses physical fashion, telling Christian women to “adorn themselves in modest [well-arranged] apparel.” Then the rest of the verse shows how true beauty comes from godly humility and the development of the mind in understanding God’s Word. If our daughters seek that, they will one day possess eternal beauty—with a radiant face, shimmering hair and dazzling eyes. God’s Word promises that!
Help Her Stand Out in Society
How can we help our daughters radiate the genuine happiness that enhances their beauty? Much of that comes from the happiness and encouragement we give them. They look to us fathers for that support; they need us to let them know what we find admirable about them. If we show them the proper kind of love and attention, they will feel adored, protected and truly beautiful. A daughter who is not cared for by her father will either feel she is not worthy of a man’s love or will seek that attention and care in misguided, damaging ways.
With all this in place, you can then help her understand what makes her beautiful physically. Teach her that the majority of her outward beauty rests in her face—in her eyes and smile. Also teach her—with the aid of her mother if she is in the picture—that good hygiene and proper health often does more for the appearance than clothing. Exercise can aid in appropriate muscle tone and healthy skin.
Also encourage her to develop feminine mannerisms. Helen Andelin, in her book Fascinating Womanhood, states, “There are thousands of rather plain women with irregular features and faulty builds who succeed in being attractive to men because they are models of femininity. On the other hand, there are thousands of other women who have beautiful faces and features but who, because of woodenness, or masculinity of manner, never impress men as being especially attractive. When a woman is tender, soft, fun-loving, lovable, and also innocent and pure, who stops to inquire if she has beauty in the classical sense? [T]o most men she seems a paragon of femininity. To them she is beautiful!”
Teach your daughter about these attributes of lasting spiritual beauty. Love and adore her; set the example of possessing positive energy. And if she stands out a little in this ugly world, then let it be for the radiant beauty that God is creating in her and for being the royal princess that she is!