I have been thinking a lot about how we view ourselves and how the world tells us to view ourselves. It becomes particularly scary when I think of my daughter growing up in this kind of world.
As some other bloggers I’ve recently read, I’ve decided to write a letter to my daughter about this topic. While I do plan for her to read it someday I hope I can even now, at her young age, begin to teach her the truths it contains.
There is something very important that I want you to know. You are beautiful. This goes beyond what you look like and reaches into the realm of intelligence, personality and spirit. The reason it’s so important you know, understand and feel this is because the world is going to tell you otherwise.
There will come a time when either directly and in your face or subtly whispered in your ear, you will be told that you can not be beautiful unless you buy and use a certain beauty product, follow a specific skin/eating/exercise/meditation/hair/makeup regime, act a certain way, wear specified clothing or have the “right” look.
From someone who is still trying to figure out how, I plead with you that when this time comes, IGNORE THOSE MESSAGES. Believing them and taking them to heart can damage you in so many ways. Self esteem, relationships, spirituality and your overall happiness can all be hurt in both big and small ways if you let others tell you that your worth lies in how you look.
It will not be as easy as just ignoring them though. Corporations that run media like television, magazines and movies spend millions and millions of dollars to get you to spend your money on their products. They are not above lying and manipulating in order to get your money. No matter what they claim their purpose is, it is NOT to help you. It is to make money.
Many will come right out and tell you “you need to look like this”. Others, however, will be much more subtle. If you’re not looking for the “hidden” message you may miss it consciously but fall for it unknowingly.
I don’t want to scare you but I want you to be aware. What’s the best way to avoid the trap of good looks=happiness? Following Heavenly Father’s commandments.
If you are righteous and strive to pray each day, study the scriptures and serve others, you will be blessed with the Holy Ghost and He will always tell you the truth. He can warn you when you may be starting to believe something that is not true. He can tell you and help you know that your worth comes from being a daughter of God, not from being a user of Clinique or a reader or Vogue. He can help you stay firm in your beliefs while living in a world that has ever changing instructions on how to be “the best you”.
You are the best you when you live your faith and do your best to love yourself and others. It’s ok if you don’t look like actresses or the people in magazines and on billboards. They look how they look and you look how you look and trying to conform can be dangerous.
Is it wrong to wear makeup and try hard to find clothes that you think look good on you? Absolutely not. Is it ok to try new looks and spend time and money on looking good? Of course. The dangerous part comes when you start to believe that you can not be happy until you have done these things.
Why is it dangerous? Because it’s a trap. You will never look the way the world tells you you should. You will never be the size they say you should be. Because if you do reach that size or finally get “that look”, a sad thing will happen. It will not make you happy. You will not suddenly be the person you always dreamed you would be. You will still have the same problems in your life. You will still have bad days.
And if you’ve fallen for the good looks=happiness formula then you will begin to think that the reason you are not happy is because you actually need to loose more weight, buy more new clothes, try a different hair color or cut and try even harder to get “that look”.
It’s a trap and the easiest way to get out of it is to not get in it. But if you do, and I’m not sure it’s actually possible to never get even a little bit caught, surround yourself with virtuous, spiritual things and with people who know and live the truth. Be kind to those who are in the trap and offer help. And try, try to remember the truth. You are beautiful.