Scott of American Dad has written a post called “Objective Beauty for your Kids” which includes a video that speaks to beauty standards, fashion mags, and how girls and women perceive themselves.
Beauty standards are a huge issue. There has been a real cultural war lobbed against women, stemming mostly from Hollywood and the fashion industry, that plays off our natural biology and exploits our insecurities, so we will buy products. Social engineering. It’s impact on women and girls has been absolutely devastating, contributing to both eating disorders and oddly to defiance, as in shaved heads and gromets through your ears, anything to defy and defend yourself against, “the beauty standard.”
I agree with much of what Scott has said, I just think he does not understand what a profound and intense impact this has had on women and girls. The video addresses fashion mags, but they are only one element. I remember taking my girls to the mall once, a perfume counter, and there was a giant cardboard woman, mostly naked and wrapped in strategically placed twine. Small children, about 7 who in an instant saw how the beauty industry perceives women, perceives them, as flat two-dimensional images designed to sell products, female worth and value related exclusively to our sexuality. And so it begins, the doubts, the anxiety, am I too fat? To thin? Too short? Too tall, too old, too young, too loud, too quiet…. will the whole world reject me because I have freckles?
When little boys hear, “you’re ugly,” they tend to think, “huh.” Or perhaps, “so what, you’re stupid.” When little girls hear “you’re ugly,” they hear, you no longer have any worth and value in the world. Your potential as a human being has just died.
That is why we encourage women and girls to focus on their inner beauty, to learn to love themselves and to be confident in who and what they are. There are many passages in the bible that speak of this, “Your adornment must not be merely external– braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”
My father bless his heart, understood that little girls need to be told they are beautiful, not just smart or capable, but pretty too. That we must be perceived as a whole person, one a man will someday delight in, one our Holy Father delights in, and that we must embrace that aspect of ourselves. That’s what fathers need to know, to tell your daughters they are beautiful, because the more powerfully aware she is of that on the inside, the better she will be able to defend herself from a world trying to sell her something quite different.
And what is on the inside always finds its way to the outside.