‘What’s the definition of beauty?’

‘What’s the definition of beauty?’My daughter is only four-years-old, but sometimes, I think she’s 14.

That was the case a few weeks ago, when she walked purposefully into the kitchen, sporting a pink dress, glitzy shoes and shiny fingernail polish, and asked me through a sweet smile: “Daddy, do you think I look beautiful?”

I chuckled at the situation and responded quickly, “Of course, I do!” She walked back into her room to continue her game of dress-up and I finished eating my snack, but later I began to ask myself: What am I teaching her? In other words, what is she learning about beauty?

If I’m not diligent, then she will learn all the worldly, wrong things as she grows older: that beauty is skin-deep, that worth is based on a perfect figure and the right clothes, and that her body is to be put on display like a cheap weekend sale at Walmart.

I thought about that recently when my family and I stopped at a gas station to fill up the van and to get snacks during a short road trip. There in the gas station window was the magazine rack, and there on the magazine rack were the latest “gentleman’s” magazines flaunting barely dressed models – easily seen by anyone who did not even enter the station. Such as my daughter.

But we don’t have to stop at the wrong gas station to be confronted with worldly images of beauty. We see it every Sunday during the fall, when the TV cameras switch from the football game to the cheerleaders and we’re left wondering if “thin, half-naked and blond” were the prerequisites. We’re faced with it during commercials, when Hardee’s trots out soft-porn images to try and sell us – of all things — hamburgers.

Heck, we even see it in during Disney and Pixar cartoons, which promote not immodesty but perfection. How many average-looking heroines can you remember from the most popular animated movies?

Then there’s social media. A recent Pew study found that 61 percent of teen girls — but only 44 percent of teen boys — regularly access Instagram, the picture-based platform where, essentially, only “glamour shots” are posted. As director Delaney Ruston discovered in the documentary Screenagers, Instagram and platforms like it are destroying the body image of middle school and high school girls, who feel constant pressure to look flawless for their friends and romantic interests. Continue reading

3 things to teach your daughter about true beauty

3 things to teach your daughter about true beauty My daughter Maggie is only 3 but she already knows what she wants to be when she grows up.

A princess.

But not just any princess. She wants to be a beautiful princess. And preferably, one who wears pink dresses. And does ballet.

Three years ago, I despised the princess craze. Why would I—I thought at the time—want my daughter to chase after an unattainable physical beauty that only resides in fantasies and Hollywood-style Disney movies?

But here I am, three years later, with a daughter who wants nothing more than to be pretty and to wear nail polish, and who wakes up every morning wanting to don the latest princess fashion.

How did I get here? Believe me, I didn’t promote it.

As much as I’d love to blame Disney, I really can’t. If I did that, then I might as well blame the football manufacturer who designed the kiddie pigskin her twin brother recently used to break a light bulb. Just as he is naturally attracted to physical activity, she has a natural yearning to be physically beautiful. And that latter concept terrifies me.

It scares me to think about my daughter growing up in a culture where a simple trip to the grocery store can turn into a fleshly battle, with society screaming at every turn: “You’re not beautiful enough!” There, on the billboard, is the perfect-looking Hollywood star, telling anyone who happens to look: “This is what you should look like.” And there, on the cover of the checkout-line magazine, is that same woman, only this time she’s lost half of her clothes and is promoting a “secret” diet and exercise routine that helped her lose all of that baby weight and get back down to 98 pounds!

Unless you have $50 million, a live-in nannie, a personal trainer, time to burn and an air brush, who can compete with that? Our culture’s objectification of women is to be loathed, but thankfully, Scripture gives us a better option. So what will I tell my daughter? This:
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3 ways to raise modest kids (in an immodest world)

3 ways to raise modest kids (in an immodest world)I’m not sure when parents began debating the so-called “sheltering” of children, but I’m pretty sure the conversation became far more significant when television was invented—that is, when we allowed culture to invade our lives.

I tend to fall into the let’s-shelter-our-kids camp—at least for youngsters—but I’ve come to a simple conclusion: It’s impossible. For instance …

My 3-year-old daughter and I recently were sitting at the newest restaurant in town, sharing a Reuben sandwich and a plate of fries while coloring our favorite animals, when her eyes caught the image on one of the overhanging TV sets.

“Daddy, she’s naked!”

I took a quick look at the television to see what she was referencing—it was, if you’re curious, “Entertainment Tonight”—and then told her in a reassuring voice, “You’re right. We need to pray that woman finds some clothes.”

Legally and technically, my daughter was wrong: The woman, a model, wasn’t naked. But biblically and practically? My daughter was right on the mark. And I was proud of her.

God clothed Adam and Eve with animal skin in the garden (Genesis 3:21), but ever since, Calvin Klein and Abercrombie & Fitch and every other designer and store have been trying to remove it, inch by inch. Their creations in ritzy New York studios create a domino effect: sold in stores, bought by teens, and then returned by parents. But it’s not just Christian families who have weekly “you’re not going out like that!” arguments. This issue crosses ideological and cultural boundaries.

Scripture says we are to kill desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:24) but immodesty does just the opposite, bringing it back to life and encouraging its captives to strut around like a boastful half-naked peacock.

Of course, we shouldn’t simply blame fashion designers for this problem. Their clothes wouldn’t have gone over well with, say, the Pilgrims or even Colonial Americans. We as a society buy those clothes, and this issue often is a matter of the heart.

Still, there are practical steps parents can take to raise modest children in an immodest world. Here are three:
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