A Girl’s Guide To Self-Confidence – Week 2: What Is Beauty, Really?

So moms, how did last week go for you?  Did you leave the house without make-up on?  How about compare features with your daughter?  I sincerely hope that you’ve started to realize how genuinely beautiful you are.
This week, we’re going to bring our daughters into the series and dive into a touchy subject.  Let’s work on redefining “beauty”.  Are you in?
Last week was tough for a lot of us women.  It’s hard to accept ourselves as beautiful because we are so consumed with what the world says is beautiful.  I challenged moms last week to step outside of our comfort zone and try leaving the house without make-up, or wearing an outfit our daughter selected, along with other ideas.
My 35th birthday was last Tuesday, and I spent the entire day make-up free.  It was glorious!  I didn’t even shower until the end of the day…and even then, I didn’t fix my hair.  I just braided it while it was wet and went about my business.  (And yes, people actually saw me in public this way!  GASP!)  The night before my birthday, my daughter treated me to a “spa night” – she soaked and rubbed my feet, then gave me a “Marley Special” manicure.  Check it out:
Five different colors – and I wore my nails that way until Sunday night when they were chipping so bad I couldn’t stand it any longer.
Did I feel less beautiful on my birthday with no make-up and a crazy manicure?  Nope.  I felt loved.
What exactly is beauty, anyway?

Let’s see what Miriam Webster has to say:

Ummm…alrighty then.  I love number two – “especially: a beautiful woman”.  So, according to the dictionary, to be considered “beautiful”, we must create pleasure of the mind or spirit, or be “graceful, ornamental, or excellent quality”.  Wow.  Talk about setting unrealistic standards for beauty!

We have a serious problem in this nation.  All of us are bombarded with false images of “beauty”.  The standards are set entirely too high – so high in fact, that magazines have been getting blasted lately because their Photoshop mistakes are becoming more and more prevalent.  They are transforming women in magazines after the photos are taken, nipping and tucking, and quite literally “trimming the fat”.  They change hair color, skin color, lip color, they enlarge breasts, they slim waistlines and thighs, they enhance cheekbones…the list goes on and on.

Essentially, what we see on TV and in magazines isn’t real.  Yet we buy into those false images of beauty and spend millions of dollars a year trying to attain an unreachable status of “beauty”!  (Americans spent roughly $33 BILLION – that’s with a “B” – in 2010 on beauty products!) {source}

Check-out lines in stores and row after row of magazine racks in the bookstores shout out to us, trying to lure us into believing that they finally have discovered the secret to anti-aging, preventing wrinkles, enhancing skin tone, losing those pesky pounds, etc.  They are filled with page after page of gorgeous people who seem so perfect, and our human error makes us want to be like those people.

{All images from Google images}

This is what we see.  This is what our daughters see.  Day in, day out.  Their idols are on the covers of these magazines, Photoshopped to look perfect, selling sex, teaching kids how to flirt, shaming girls into feeling ugly because they don’t have a boyfriend, or they aren’t thin enough or pretty enough or good enough.

It seriously makes me sick.

Let’s see what God says about beauty:

1 Peter 3: 3-4
Proverbs 31: 31
1 Timothy 2: 9-10
Our culture is teaching us (and our daughters) that in order to be beautiful, we must spend a fortune on products and have perfect hair and skin and teeth…but God says we are beautiful because of our gentle and quiet spirit, because we seek God and have a faithful heart.
Let me tell you a story…
I grew up with the same group of kids from first grade through seventh grade.  These kids were my friends, and we loved one another, shared secrets, built forts, rode bicycles, spent our summers together…and didn’t judge one another.
When I was 13 years old, just at the beginning of my awkward years, we moved to a new school district.  Although we didn’t move too terribly far, I would have to change schools and make new friends.  I spent the summer between seventh and eighth grade hanging out with a neighbor, a boy, who was three years younger than me.  He very quickly became my best friend, and we had an absolute blast that summer.
Then, August came and school started.  Like anyone else starting a new school, I was nervous.  Up until this point in my life, I had no issues with confidence, never had trouble making friends or talking to people…but the kids here were different.  They looked at me as if I had two heads.  No one talked to me, except to laugh at my clothes or make fun of me for being different or new.
Unlike these 13-year old girls, I didn’t care about wearing make-up or fixing my hair or wearing name brand clothing.  I was still a kid.  I wanted to play softball and ride my bike through the mud and go swimming in the creek.  I had skinned-up knees and freckles and frizzy hair.  I wore big glasses and had a gap between my teeth.  My shoes weren’t Nike or Tretorn (so popular in the 90s).  I was your average, run-of-the-mill, all-American girl.  But in my new school, that wasn’t a good thing.
For the next three years, until I was old enough to drive myself to school, I rode the bus.  Almost every single day, I was picked on to the point of tears.  Sure, I made some friends.  I made some really great friends, actually, even though I didn’t have many.  I learned very quickly who I could trust and who to avoid in the halls.
When I reflect on my junior high and high school days, I have fond memories and really enjoyed that time in my life.  But I can honestly say that I vividly remember the hurt from the bullying I experienced.  It’s still fresh.  It still stings.  And I can remember the full names of the kids who picked on me the worst.
Lessons learned…
  • Words only hurt if you let them.  I learned how to stand up for myself.  Rather than letting their words change the way I saw myself, I would have a good cry then let it go.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.  I learned who my real friends were.  The girls who stood up for me and loved me through my awkwardness, probably because they were awkward, too.  I learned that the quality of my friends matters a whole lot more than the quantity of friends.
  • Everybody has an “awkward” phase.  Some people just go through it sooner.  Trust me.  Those kids who picked on me when I was 13 finally had their shining moment in the awkward spotlight a few years later.
I’ve known these girls since 8th grade (if anybody is counting, that’s 22 years).  I can honestly say I am the woman I am today partly because of their influence, and I love them like they are my sisters.
Focus on REAL beauty.
Real beauty doesn’t come from a can or a box or a salon or a magazine.  We are truly beautiful no matter what society tells us.  Confidence is beautiful.  Knowing who you are on the inside is beautiful.
Remember those albums I asked you to get for this week?  I hope you picked one up for your daughter.  If not, go ahead and do that because we’ll be filling them over the next several weeks.
I have two activities for you this week – one for the daughters and one for the moms:
Now it’s your turn:
  • How did you survive the “awkward” years?
  • What are some inspirational quotes you fall back on time and time again?
  • Do you feel beautiful in your own skin?
Thanks so much for stopping by this week.  I hope to hear from you!

For the full series of A Girl’s Guide to Self-Confidence, click HERE.

10 Responses

  1. I love the manicure she gave you – and the reminder of love you got to carry around on your fingers for the whole week. What a fun blessing.

    When I was going through my awkward phase, I had some good friends who kept me sane.

  2. What a blessing to read this post! Great work!! So true that the beauty comes from within, from our God who created us so perfectly in His eyes. Thats what matters most- not what society has to say about what is considered beautiful. I agree this is so important to teach this to our young women! 🙂

  3. Thank you Tracie! I can honestly say that without a good strong core group of true friends, I’m not sure where I’d be in this world. So glad you stopped by today!

  4. Thanks honey! I’ve been praying my way through this series and it’s just amazing what God continues to lay on my heart to share. When we criticize ourselves, we are essentially telling God He didn’t do a good job. He knitted us together in our mother’s womb, exactly the way He wants us to be. And like you said, we are all perfect in His sight. 🙂 Love you girl! Glad you stopped by!

  5. I love this post. I went to private school during my awkward years, we wore uniforms and that helped so much, though I have to admit I did dread those days when we had free dress. I wore boys clothes (because they were more comfortable) and was always made fun of because I didn’t have the right brands. I was the “poor” kid, though I never felt poor until I went to private school. I think uniforms really are the great equalizers in life. I struggle with beauty now and I am constantly trying to lift myself up. I am the heaviest I have ever been (not pregnant) and I’m trying to remind myself that when I was lighter it was almost always because I was anorexic due to societal beliefs of beauty. I refuse to let that happen to my daughter. I will learn to love the skin I am in and I will also do my darnedest to pass that love on to my daughter.

  6. Melissa, let me first start off by saying, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! Without ever seeing a photo of you or meeting you, I can see your beauty through your words. Your heart is full and you have the right attitude to help your daughter grow to become a confident woman. I’m so glad you stopped by today. Try the activities I shared today, and let me know how they go! Thanks so much!


I'm Kirsten & I'm happy you're here! Sweet Tea & Saving Grace supports women seeking to find balance in the busy, deepen their faith, and instill joy and love in their homes, lives, and blogs by providing encouraging and inspiring content and valuable resources. My prayer is for you to leave here better than when you came. Be blessed!