From a Father to a Daughter
Those of you who have daughters know the awe-inspiring beauty of seeing your little girl’s face for the first time. Every soft hair, every skin cell … it’s all perfect. You hold her close and you can’t believe how you got to be so blessed. She is God’s majesty, wrapped in a pink, fluffy blanket.
For the first 10 or so years of her life, she doesn’t know any different. That’s the amazing innocence of childhood—if Mommy and Daddy say you’re beautiful, then you are.
Then those hormones kick in. You hope and pray she hangs onto that innocent confidence, even as her classmates start to measure themselves against the mirror, each other, and what they see between the pages of magazines, or staring back at them on TV.
Dr. Kelly Flanagan felt the weight of what his daughter is facing when he wandered over to the cosmetics section at Target. The marketing text printed on the mascara and foundation lining the aisles promised to give women “brilliant strength,” and help them to become “infallible” and he needed to let her daughter know that she already is strong and beautiful. And that she doesn’t need to meet an impossible standard of beauty to be wonderful and special.
Dr. Flanagan isn’t in denial about the fact that his pink-loving princess will someday be interested in makeup, but he wants her to know that her beauty has nothing to do with the right shade of lip gloss. He understands that one day society will “see her as a pretty face and a body to enjoy. And they’ll tell her she has to look a certain way to have any worth or influence.” And that is such a deep, dark packaged-in-cool-text lie.
I couldn’t have said the truth any better, so I hope you look at his actual letter.
If you’re reading this, you probably understand the heartache and urgency that Dr. Flanagan feels. As the mother of a teenage daughter, never has this been more of a concern to me than it is right now. There are so many negative messages trying to fight their way into the hearts of our daughters. But we still have influence over their lives—in fact, no matter what it looks like, I saw in my research with teens that we have THE primary influence. In other words, this is not a losing battle!
What I love so much about Dr. Flanagan’s letter is that he takes the very words meant to convince his little girl that she is not enough and turns them into words of affirmation and encouragement. This is something that all of us can do, and I don’t believe you have to be a wordsmith to pull it off.
The next time you’re watching television with the family and you see a questionable ad that makes you cringe, use it as a teaching tool. If she’s begging you for an outfit that’s a little too old for her, don’t just turn her down, explain why you’re saying no—that she doesn’t need to wear that to be “cool;” she already is. She might not like your answer, but she’ll get the message that you’re trying to protect her integrity—and that you think she already is what she is trying to be.
There’s one other thing to consider, and I’ll try to say this as sensitively as possible: Some of us might need to check our own hearts on this matter. After all, if we spend an hour in front of the mirror every time we have to go somewhere, it can be hard to explain why all of this isn’t necessary!
Do we see ourselves in the same light that God sees us? If not, it may be a good idea to spend some time reading God’s own Love Letter to us.
After all, that is our goal for our daughters, right? We want them to see the precious, valuable person that God created in His own image.
I believe that happens only when we see ourselves the same way!