Often, I am so thankful to be a woman in 21st century America. I have more individual rights than other women at any other point in history. I have regular access to things that meet my basic needs. I am usually treated like an equal among male peers, and my voice and perspective are not only welcomed but encouraged around the table of shared ideas.
But, I have a problem. I have a preschool age daughter. Between the demeaning comments toward women expressed by our leading political figures (and some religious ones, too) and the constant media coverage of female celebrities the likes of Kim Kardashian, I am regularly concerned about her future. I want to raise her to be a strong woman who knows her worth, asserts her position, and handles herself with poise and excellence. I want her to embrace beauty, but not the kind you’ll find in the pages of Cosmo.
Instead, as I raise her, I want to instill in her a different standard for beauty. I hope she discovers that womanhood is more than an attractive face or body, and truly remarkable beauty is a lifestyle, not a look. With her in mind, here are some of the “beauty tips” I plan to pass along to her:
Put kindness in your voice.
This is something I regularly tell my girl when she’s playing with her brother or other children. When it comes to making an impact in this broken world, kindness can move mountains. I don’t expect her to be precious in the soft-spoken, subservient, never-had-an-original-thought kind of way. Instead, I want her to model women like Lady Violet in Downton Abbey, who said, “vulgarity is no substitute for wit.” When she does have to deliver hard truths, I want her to be able to speak with gracious authority. I’m reminded of Paul’s words to the Colossians, Walk in wisdom…let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer each person. (Colossians 4:5-6). Gracious speech is sorely lacking in our #sorrynotsorry world, where anyone feels they can say whatever they want with impunity.
Close your mouth when you chew.
Any fellow misophonia sufferers out there? I am very sensitive to sounds, and smacking is probably at the top of my list of huge annoyances. Since my daughter is three, I am constantly having to remind her to chew with her mouth closed. Aside from the literal implications of this improving her table etiquette, it has a figurative significance for me as well: when you are chewing on a situation – thinking it over, weighing a decision, forming an opinion – keep your mouth closed. Put another way, be quick to listen, slow to speak (James 1:19). It’s okay to have an opinion, it’s not always okay to share it, and the wisdom of knowing the opportune moment is a mark of a beautiful woman.
Stop and smell the flowers.
This beauty tip is actually something my daughter is teaching me. Anytime we are out and about, whether we are walking through our downtown or perusing the garden section of the grocery store, she always wants to stop and smell all of the flowers. She doesn’t care about schedules or to-do lists, she just wants to take in all of the sights and smells around her. She appreciates the little things in life and she finds contentment in the simple yet profound. These are beautiful qualities, and I hope to encourage her to grow in them.
“Wherever you are, be all there.”
This is quote from the 20th century missionary Jim Elliot that has always stuck with me. Have you ever been around someone that you could tell you commanded their full attention? It’s powerful and I want more of that in my life. In this world of on-demand digital distractions, I often find it difficult to just be present. I want to better myself in this area and also show my girl that it is an attractive quality to have. I want her to live in the moment, and to not let fear, worry, insecurity or any other distraction in life hold her back from being fully present in whatever situation she finds herself.
Finally, I want her to be intentional in blessing others. I want her to give generously, not just financially, but in service and appreciation as well. I want kindness to pour from her lips. I want gratitude and contentment to be her modus operandi. In doing so, she will be a thing of beauty who blesses all those in her sphere of influence.
For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. – Audrey Hepburn