Real beauty

Last week, Lexi, a 13-year-old girl, and her mom walked into a department store in Wichita to shop for a formal dress for Lexi’s middle school event. The mom asked Lexi to try on one particular long red dress, saying Lexi would look great in it. Lexi hesitated, thinking it wasn’t quite her style, but she finally tried on the dress to please her mom. She didn’t love it, but her mom still thought she looked great, and took a picture of her wearing it. At that point, a sales lady walked in and said that if Lexi wanted to wear that dress, she’d need Spanx (slimming undergarments) to make it work. When mom said that Lexi looked fine without them, the sales lady started arguing the point, that Lexi needed the Spanx. Leaving the store, mom said that Lexi was perfect just the way she was.

Since then, the mom’s Facebook post to the clerk has gone viral: “I wish I had told you how many girls suffer from poor self-image, and telling them they need something to make them perfect can be very damaging…. My daughter is tall, she swims, runs, dances and does yoga. She’s fit. She’s beautiful. She did not need you telling her that she is not perfect.”

Five years ago, the Dove Corporation released the findings of a global study on women and beauty. The study revealed that only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. What’s more, women’s anxiety about their looks begins at an early age. 72% of girls ages 10 to 17 said they felt “tremendous pressure to be beautiful.” But not only that, the study showed there is a “universal increase in the pressure to be beautiful” combined with a decrease in girls’ self-confidence as they get older. What’s even more concerning is that the pressure to be beautiful leads to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and more.

The Christian faith has the audacity to claim that there is an external, once-for-all standard for beauty that doesn’t depend on what anyone else thinks. Jesus Christ loves us and is madly attracted to us just as we are. What’s more, if we let him, he will begin doing a makeover on us that the not even the greatest fashion experts could dream of.

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