There has been a lot said recently about a certain new children’s book. Apparently the whole premise of the book is to prepare a child for their mother’s upcoming plastic surgery. At this point I become very torn. While the nurse in me agrees that children definitely need to be told and kindly taught what is going on with their mother when she undergoes any surgery, the woman in me becomes a bit discouraged. Plastic surgery is a very strange message to be sharing with children, especially when the images and focus of the book is taking a natural, wholesome woman and mother and surgically creating something “beautiful”. Is the child who loves totally and completely supposed to now judge that love based on whether or not the mother is beautiful?
I almost wonder if the woman who is being so critical of herself is perpetuating a dangerous cycle. We already have a huge problem with eating disorders and other physical manipulations as our young teens try to make themselves pretty according to the current standards. How young does a child have to be to realize that the woman who hates her own body and criticizes herself can also be looking at the child in the same way? I used to do some counseling in a teen unit for eating disorders. Do you want to know the number one stated beginning steps toward such destructive behaviors were? Watching their mothers. Whether or not the woman was anorexic herself, she was sending a very clear message to the child that weight and shape, and being able to control those things, were more important than many others. As the teen grew it became more obvious and the woman began including the child in her comparisons. Oh yes, there were many more very serious reasons why these girls were choosing to harm themselves, but the underlying cause for choosing this path rather than another was watching women they admire spend all their time focused on their waistline.
I do realize that there is a definite place in this world for the talents of plastic surgeons. Knowing many who have had to undergo mastectomies, I consider it a great blessing for them to have the option of replacing what has been lost. There are many other valid reasons a woman might contemplate this type of surgery. I don’t think a crooked nose should be one of them. I do not see the need to take what is already beautiful and unique about women and mold it into something else. The image of an ideal woman, physically, is a changeable creature. I think we have let ourselves become a little bit too gullible. The Lord’s views on what makes a woman beautiful have never changed and still today we berate and belittle God’s creation and feel that the world’s standard is the one we should be conforming to.
It’s not just some women; I would dare to say that in this day and age it is most women. I’m just as guilty as most. Most days I never think about my rather fluffy shape or limp hair. I’m too busy living life and finding joy in it. But there are plenty of other days when I’m already frustrated or too focused on myself when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, or see a candid photo of myself and think, “ugh, who is that hideous woman”? That’s simply a part of our feminine nature that draws us to beauty. We want to reflect that in ourselves. May I boldly suggest though that we need to judge our own beauty on our Heavenly Father’s view of us, not the world’s?
I’m talking about more than saying someone is “beautiful inside”, I’m talking about realizing that when we really are beautiful on the inside what we radiate outside is the most beautiful glow of all. Sure, we have flaws. This is an imperfect world. But it is still full of diversified beauty. The landscape I find beautiful, may not be the same that you appreciate, and that is how it should be. The beauty of our bodies is the same. I have never had someone come up to me and say, “thank you for helping me, but next time don’t come if you’ve got a zit on your chin.” You want to know who was thinking that as they headed out the door? Me. Because Satan did not want me to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands, He did not want me to experience a true joy that has nothing to do with whether or not my jeans fit right.
Below is the well-known poem Audrey Hepburn once quoted when asked to share her ‘beauty tips’.
“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.”
I think I’d like to see more children’s books that teach these concepts and let the plastic surgery one gather dust on the shelf.