Last night I watched TLC’s Toddlers & Tiara’s about moms who have their daughters perform in Pageants, and I just about crawled right on out of my skin.
What the heckfire!?!?! How do these moms delude themselves into thinking this is a positive experience for their little girls? From full on makeup – more than I wore on my wedding day I might add – to self-tanning lotion (it makes their clothing stand out so much better!) to manis & pedis (for the swimsuit competition doncha know) to $800 pageant dresses (don’t tell my husband! teehee) Blech, I could only stomach about 15 minutes of it. Especially when I saw a 2 year old sobbing throughout the entire preparation process and being corrected for not being happy and bubbly.
The whole thing just made me sad for their little daughters. There were a few moms whose approach was slightly better than others – no makeup or professional hair, placing focus on personality, etc. But I just can’t swallow the argument that these competitions somehow teach their little girls anything valuable. It ties their self-worth to appearance and performance. And all so they can win a trophy to proclaim, “I am the best, the prettiest, the perkiest”.
What about inner beauty? Kindness instead of Selfishness. Gratitude and Humility instead of Pride. Compassion instead of Competition. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a bit of healthy compeition. But not when you’re competing over who looks the best in a swimsuit or evening gown. Especially when you’re only 3 or 4 years old!! And where in the Bible does it teach the importance of being Number One!? When those girls get older they’ll fall into the same trap their mothers and many other women do. Agonizing that their hips are too wide or their breasts aren’t big enough or their eyes are set too far apart. Focusing on their shortfalls and forgetting their strengths.
Most women are highly skilled in the area of self criticism. They hate their nose or their skin or their toes for gosh sakes. Moms often look at stretchmarks and widened hips resulting from pregnancy and bemoan their lack of youth instead of rejoicing in the testament of life that their bodies labored to bring forth. (Oh how I wish my stretchmarks and wide hips were the result of creating life!) My mother often laments about how she thinks her hands aren’t very attractive, with nails cut short and skin less than perfect. But my mother has spent the majority of her life serving others with those hands. When we were small she would clean houses or care for the elderly to provide extra income. At home she cooked and cleaned and occasionally sewed. Her hands provided for us. Cared for us. Loved us. Now she works as a nurse – still caring for others. Her hands are a testament to how she’s lived her life. They’re beautiful.
All of us are beautiful in different ways – completely outside of our physical appearance. Why can we never see it? Why do we constantly strive to find our beauty (and all too often self-worth) in the eyes of others? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look nice or be considered beautiful. I myself love it when my husband tells me I’m gorgeous or complements an outfit. But I treasure his observations on my character. If he tells me I have a kind heart or am a good friend – that is like gold to me. Because, let’s face it friends, beauty will fade. When I’m an old woman with wrinkled skin and thinning hair, my hope is that my husband will still find me gorgeous because of the person I have become. I say become because I know I have such a long way to go. If I spent half as much time cultivating my character as I did plucking my eyebrows or agonizing over what to wear, I’d be a good bit closer to the person I should be instead of the person I am.
Whew! Ok – sorry folks – I really didn’t mean to get all deep and introspective on this post. I intended this to be a rant about crazy mothers and getting my readers to agree that pageants should be outlawed. (Which I still think they should). But in the end I find myself saddened by the propensity of people – men and women alike – who spend their lives seeking recognition and appreciation for things that are all too fleeting. There is so much more to life than appearance, income and accomplishments. We’re missing the forest for the trees people. And I’m talking to myself as much as anyone else – I’m frequently right there with the rest of ya’ll.
Let’s take a few steps back and begin to recognize the truly important things. Faith. Love. Family. Friends. Service. I often need help remembering that these are what is truly important. Help me remember. And I’ll help you too.