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What Are You Really Teaching Your Daughter About Beauty?

Erin Davis

Erin Davis | 05.12.11
Twitter: @ErinGraffiti

12 comments

Weight has been an area of bondage off and on in my life for . . . well . . . forever. The issue has taken different forms: crash dieting, disordered eating, self-loathing, distraction, insecurity, anxiety, and overindulgence. But the outward behavior was always just a sign of what was going on in my heart. 

The Lord brought me face to face with the lies I was believing about outer appearance, beauty, weight, and identity several years ago as a result of my work with teenage girls. They were struggling with beauty, weight, and identity big time! I was trying to talk them out of their insecurities, but it wasn’t working. I couldn’t tell them that God thought they were beautiful when I didn’t believe it myself. 

And so the very short version of a very long (and wonderful) story is that God delivered me from my bondage to food, weight, and insecurity. That deliverance turned into a Bible study for the middle school small group that I led, which turned into opportunities to teach, which turned into a book, which turned into an entire speaking and writing ministry dedicated to seeing the issues of beauty and identity addressed in the lives of women by putting them through the filter of God’s Word. 

Perhaps more importantly than all of that, God’s work in my heart led to an important conversation with my mom. As a young girl, I watched my mom go on every diet imaginable. I watched her make faces at herself in the mirror. I watched her duck and cover any time a camera lens was pointed in her direction. And I picked up on her struggle with beauty and weight. I thought my mom was the most beautiful woman in the whole wide world (as all little girls do). And I thought, “If there’s something wrong with my beautiful mom, there must be something wrong with me.”

When I talked to my mom about these things as an adult she said, “I thought telling you you were beautiful was enough.” And she did. She and my father lavished love and affirmation on me. But because my mom didn’t make the choice to believe what God’s Word said about her own beauty and value and worth, their compliments got lost in translation. 

When I speak about beauty now, moms always want me to give them a magic formula for how to help their daughters find their identity in Christ. There is no magic formula apart from the transformational power of God’s Word, but even that might not work if we moms don’t choose to believe that the statements God makes in His Word about beauty are about us too, not just our kids. 

How many of us quote Psalm 139 to our kids? It’s a good one, for sure! One of my favorites. Verses 13-14 say, 

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

If you’re a mom, you know that this passage is true. You experienced your babies being knit together in your womb and you know that it is fearful and wonderful. You have no doubt that your kids have value because you were an active participant in their creation. But this is not just their creation story. This is your creation story. You were made fearfully, wonderfully, and with great intention. You are a wonderful work. I wish I could express to you how much it would change your life if you knew that “full well.” 

One hard truth of parenting is that we cannot expect our children to hold on to the Truths of God more tightly than we have. Ladies, if you have daughters, you cannot teach them about their God-given beauty if you don’t believe His affirmations apply to you, too. 

I’m not saying moms should never diet. I don’t know your medical state or whether or not you could benefit from some healthy changes to your diet and exercise routine. But, I am saying that there are eyes watching you more closely than you might care to admit. It may be just a diet to you, but to your daughters it’s a message about true beauty. 

What is the legacy of beauty at your house? What are you really teaching your children about who God says they are by the way you act, think, and speak? In what other areas do you need to embrace God’s Truth more fully in the hopes that your children will follow your lead?

“The king is enthralled by your beauty. Honor him for he is the Lord” (Psalm 45:11). 

Comments

  1. Yes and Amen....I tell my daughter all the time that she is beautiful (even when she wakes up in the morning and her hair is all wacky) because she belongs to me. However, I do struggle with my looks and my weight. I've never had any beauty physically...I was always the tall, lanky, freckled face girl with the frizzy, unmanageable hair. Well, I'm not lanky anymore, I'm about 50 lbs overweight and my frizzy hair is almost white (and still unmanageable). I still feel like that little 13 years old that never fit in with the other girls and I'll be 40 in November.

    Erin, I know you're right...the problem is on the inside and not the outside. I need to believe God's word about me. I need deliverance in that area. I know He has been working on me...mostly revealing Himself to me and I'm so thankful. He has been gracious to me. Just praying that He would help me see myself as He sees me not as I see me.
    posted by Jodi C.
    on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 8:05 am
  2. Thank you!! I do not have daughters, but I do have three boys. I think this is a message that applies to them as well. They watch me & how I react when it comes to taking pictures or even wearing a bathing suit. I have missed out on many opportunites to swim and play with them because of my own insecurities. I realize that I am setting them up to believe that woman who are not what the world deams as beutiful are not worth their time. By doing this I could be keeping them from seeking out the woman God has planned for them. Thank you again for opening my eyes.
    Tru Woman
    posted by Lorrie
    on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 10:15 am
  3. God has gifted women, enabling them to bear children and nurture them. God's intricate design of woman is sometimes lost in our culture. Beauty is also woven in the ways that we use the gifts we are given.

    Not all women are called to bear children. Those that do have additional health benefits. I have posted the links to some research that shows the benefits of breastfeeding at my blog: www.carolvanderwoude.authorweblog.com

    As women we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
    www.carolvanderwoude.com
    posted by Carol
    on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 10:43 am
  4. This spoke to my heart! I have struggled all my life with self worth issues. Those issues grew into an eating disorder that I struggled with for a long time. I still struggle but I no longer purge or starve myself. But... one of my daughters has the same struggles now and it breaks my heart. She is so pretty, runs marathons, is falling in love, acing college and loves the Lord. I have often wondered if I had something do to with her issues. Altho I have been assured by others that I am not to blame, I can see how my struggles have been patterned for her. She hasn't purged for 9 months but the desire is still there, as it is with me even 28 years later...

    Lord help me to see who I am in Your eyes and help my daughter to see it too!
    posted by C
    on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 11:32 am
  5. I guess I am one of the lucky ones, growing up my parents always put enphasis on inward beauty, quoting the verse "man looketh on the outward appearance but God looketh on the heart."
    My sister and I were also taught the basics of eating right, skin care, makeup and dressing atractively but it was not what was most important. God's view of me as his creation is way more important than what "man" thinks about my appearance.
    The Bible also teaches that "favor is deceitful and beauty is vain but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised."
    http://ourlifeinthebigcity.blogspot.com
    posted by Becky
    on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 1:24 pm
  6. Thank you for this post, Erin. I deeply appreciate your ministry and the ministry of True Woman.
    Is there some way to contact you? I'd like to ask permission to reprint (at least) a portion of this post in a newsletter for a local pregnancy care center. :)
    You can email me at elaineuhl08(AT)gmail(DOT)com
    posted by Elaine
    on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 3:00 pm
  7. Thank you Erin for this post. I struggle with insecurity...its deeply rooted but it is my own self inflicted doubt. I've always heard how pretty I was...I've never been overweight and yet I am dissatisfied with my physical appearance. I believe this has derived from my spiritual insecurity as a child. I've always hungered for God's word and truth and praise be to God for saving me but I am learning daily that sanctification is a process. I pray that I will come to see myself as my heavenly Father does, to trust him when he says "He delights in me" and that I am forgiven. Please pray for my deliverance. Thank you sisters for the love of Christ that is in each and every one of you.

    The devil is a lie!
    posted by Brooke
    on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm
  8. Elaine,

    I just shot you an email about it.

    Thanks,

    Erin Davis
    www.graffitiministries.com
    posted by Erin Davis
    on Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 4:29 pm
  9. Erin, thanks so much for your post!! I have really been wrestling through questions of what it looks like practically to adorn ourselves inwardly instead of outwardly and your post emphasizes just how important it is to understand God's answers to these questions.
    radiantministriestoday.com
    posted by Melissa McDonald
    on Friday, May 13, 2011 at 10:55 pm
  10. Erin,

    Your post shot me way back to when I was about five years old. I remember it like yesterday. (I am 47 now.) It was 1968, and I was in the bathroom, knees on the green toilet lid, elbows leaning on the toilet tank, admiring my mom in the mirror as she stroked the small mascara brush back and forth in the little red case (they didn't have mascara tubes back then).

    As she applied the mascara, I looked up into the mirror and said to her wistfully, "I hope I grow up and look like you one day!" And my mother stopped applying her mascara, and shot a at me through the mirror, and in a sort of warning, serious tone she said, "God, I hope not. God forbid. Trust me, you don't want that to happen." And then went back to applying her make-up.

    I remember suddenly being really confused. Why wouldn't she want me to look like her? What was wrong with her? And suddenly I studied her face in the mirror differently, trying to figure out what was wrong. Only a moment ago she was a beauty queen, and now suddenly, I was trying to figure out what was wrong. I still saw her as beautiful, but now there was a question mark over my head that made me question myself. If something was wrong with her, then there must be something wrong with me.

    My mother hated the way she looked and was very vocal about it her entire life. I am thankful that I did not grow up with an eating disorder or low self-esteem, in fact I am surprised I didn't. I think sports helped me a lot with that. But it is sad that I remember that moment so clearly and how such a simple comment, one that she was totally unaware of making, changed me in such a way. And that was in 1968, way before the Internet, all the cable stations - all that the little girls are exposed to today!

    Just wanted to share.

    Thanks again,
    E
    posted by E
    on Saturday, May 14, 2011 at 10:30 am
  11. i realize an entire weekend has happened and now I decide to post to this blog. The thought came to me this weekend.
    What are we teaching our sons about beauty? I see single mom's agonizing their looks in the presence of their young sons. These young men think their mothers are beautiful but mom says oh no, not me I look awful all the time. Think about it - we are all beautiful in 'His Sight'.
    posted by Leeza
    on Monday, May 16, 2011 at 4:43 pm
  12. Beauty is about the character of the person meaning honoring God, doing service, appreciating all the gifts God given to us from our eyes, hair, legs, vegetables, nature, water, stars in the sky, clouds, and all. It's about living an good life and appreciating what God has given us. Beauty is not the Prada purse, Nine West shoes, Mac makeup, Express clothes, and all. It's not about about showing too much skin or wearing the most expensive jewelry. It's about character. I feel that many people have conformed into what society thinks, media, and all. Money also have changed people into shopping spree as well and many other reasons that makes people question people about their true identity or beauty. Beauty is what God has given us.
    posted by Godsgirl
    on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 9:39 pm

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