When I was 9 I had a best friend named Sarah McReynolds. Sarah was a beautiful blue-eyed blonde and wore the cutest clothes and all the boys liked her. Sarah also competed in beauty pagents and had won a few. She and I always talked about entering together, even though I never saw myself as being able to win. The idea of wearing pretty clothes and getting all that attention appealed to me. And of course, if Sarah was doing it, I wanted to do it. When I mentioned it to my mom, she said absolutely not. She said it was too expensive and I would feel really bad if I lost.
When Zach was a baby I had a short friendship with another new mom. We met in Lamaze class. Her name was Amy. Amy had a precious little baby girl named Tatum. She liked to enter Tatum in baby beauty contests, which she never won. She showed me a group picture once of all the babies in a certain contest. They were all very cute. And I could see she was disappointed that Tatum didn't win. And I wondered what that meant to her. Did it mean her baby wasn't cute? Did it mean another baby was cuter? Was that failure to her? I felt bad for Tatum, and glad she was too little to see the disappointment on her mother's face.
See, all mothers see their babies (no matter what age) as beautiful. As the most beautiful. And that's exactly how it should be. Because they are. What does a contest say? Should it matter? All that said, I have gorgeous children :-) And I have had others tell me this, too. However, today was a record. I was out running errands today and had six people tell me how pretty Baby is. All within about an hour and a half. And, of course, Sister hears it all the time. She wasn't running far behind in the compliments, either. I cannot deny it. They are adorable. But I am becoming increasingly worried with Sister's preoccupation with her looks. On Sunday we got dressed for church and she said, "Now everyone can see how beautiful I look." Yes, it was cute when she said it, but I was also bothered. Am I doing my job in teaching her inner beauty? I love dressing her up and fixing her hair and just...admiring her. But am I setting her up to live her life thinking that's all she is? How often do I tell her she's smart, or funny, or kind? Not as much. In the book "Wild At Heart" the author talks of women being created to be admired. How we want to hear that we are lovely. It is so true. Ever seen a little girl in a twirly dress spinning around? So if that is how we were created, how do we find balance and how do we teach it to our daughters?
I want my girls to know that Cinderella always had a song in her heart and on her lips, even in rags. She never took revenge on her stepmother and stepsisters. She was sweet and nurturing to all the animals. I pray Sister and Baby will always be confident in their beauty, but at the same time, they will never give up the quest for a beautiful spirit...even if the glass slipper doesn't fit.