I'm still working through the contrast described in yesterday's post. Why would a sweet, upright, smart, beautiful young woman want to dress like she worked for a Las Vegas escort service for her senior prom?
I don't think she would.
No, I think that what she really wants is something very different.
After living nearly 50 years as a woman, among women and girls of all ages, I can confidently assert that one characteristic common to our gender is the desire to feel pretty. We're all Cinderellas at heart. Even the funkiest punkette has some concept of attractiveness to which she aspires. The millions of dollars spent each year in this country on cosmetics, hair maintenance, tanning, toning, clothing, and accessories testify to our ongoing pursuit of our individual ideals of beauty.
Sadly, our culture seems to have replaced the idea of "beauty" with the lesser quality of being "sexy". While feminine beauty does indeed have about it a distinct quality of sexuality, it encompasses and expresses much, much more. A woman who is truly beautiful will also be to some degree undeniably sexy. However, it is entirely possible for a very sexy woman to be truly un-lovely.
Sexiness focuses on one small aspect of what it means to be a woman; beauty, on the other hand, is much more complicated, involving the fullness of what it means to be a woman. Hollywood and Fifth Avenue, unfortunately, have chosen the easier path of promoting and marketing the "smaller" version of womanhood, the sex symbol.
What does that mean for young women today? It means they are constantly bombarded with false images and twisted, narrow ideals of what it means to be beautiful. Sadly, it often means they view themselves as lovely only to the extent to which they feel physically stimulating to the young men around them. And it means that, come time to shop for a prom dress, they have very little to choose from that is not too short, too tight, too low cut, too just simply not-enough-dress.
So, what's a girl to do? First, I would encourage the young women of today to ignore Fifth Avenue and to work instead on developing beauty from the inside out. Throw away the glamour magazines and study instead to grow in the beauty which is precious to your Creator (see 1 Peter 3, or Proverbs 31). Then, let what you read and learn from Scripture influence the way you see yourself and the way you present yourself to others.
Second, do NOT base your notions of beauty on the reactions that can be elicited from a teenage boy or a college student. I've heard it straight from the horse's mouth: when males are a certain age, all girls are appealing. Basically, if you look him in the eye, smile, and say "Hi," he'll respond with interest. The wrapping paper is entirely secondary. Instead, why not ask an older, more mature fellow's opinion...someone like Dad. He already knows how beautiful you are on the inside, and you can trust that he wants others to see that beauty, too. (Dads, I have a word for you later...maybe tomorrow?)
Third, get it in your head that "sexy" does NOT equal "beautiful/pretty." Boys know the difference - you need to know the difference, too. Trust me on this: I live in a house with five men. I've heard one of my guys make the comment, "Man, So-and-so is really hot!" Let me translate, based on remarks that immediately followed that comment: "So-and-so is well-packaged. When I see her, I don't think of her as another person or as a friend...I think of her as a female who is flaunting her goods." I've also heard various of my boys comment, in almost reverent tones, "You know, So-and-so is a really beautiful girl/woman." Let me translate: "So-and-so is a truly beautiful person. Something about her commands my notice, my admiration and respect."
One more thing...be encouraged. When all the girls around you are trying very hard to be the sexiest thing in high heels and it seems like they are getting all the attention from hormone-high boys, you may think no one really notices or appreciates your commitment to being truly beautiful, lovely from the inside out. You're wrong, Little Sister. God sees your heart, and is pleased that your desire is to please Him. My boys see, and are so thankful for a female friend they can talk to and enjoy without the stress and awkwardness of having to continually divert their eyes. And the mother of your future husband sees, and she is already falling in love with you.
3 weeks ago