Most of us love beautiful things. Something that looks nice can be an absolute joy and we are naturally drawn to that which is aesthetically pleasing. Sadly, as so often happens, we have taken a good attribute and pushed it a little too far. Society today has forgotten that beauty goes beyond the outside appearance and is found in varied and wonderful expression. Instead, we have become more than a little obsessed with what a person looks like physically and focused more on the skin-deep attributes that will only change and weather over time.
It’s hard not to be aware of the pressure on young people, especially young girls, to look a specific way. Photo-shopped images, quick-fix diet solutions, cosmetic surgery and so on and so forth, are all for the purpose of changing the outward shell, but do little to create a well-rounded, confident and interesting individual. During her TED talk, Victoria’s Secret model Cameron Russell pointed out that a study in the US found 53% of 11-year-old girls were unhappy with their bodies. This number increased to 73% by the time the girls reached 17. It’s a sad reflection on where we, as a society, place value.
As a mom of four, three of whom are girls, I feel the responsibility of raising my children with a more balanced appreciation of physical beauty. Looking nice is great, but it’s not everything. Of all the things that my children could be, pretty is not top of my wish list, even though I find my babies breathtaking (every mother feels that way about her children). Physical looks are, in many ways a lottery of genetics and popular culture. What was pretty 50 years ago may not be attractive tomorrow so there are other things we should cultivate and aspire to. Here are some of the things that I wish for my children that are worth so much more than being pretty.
Bravery is a powerful attribute. If you are brave whatever obstacles may arise, you face them head on. Bravery isn’t about not being afraid, it’s about not letting your fear hold you back and limit what you can achieve. There is an ancient saying that says
“Fortune favours the bold”
It reminds us that we often find rewards that we would otherwise miss out on, if we choose to be brave and step out. If you want to achieve anything in life you must have the courage to face things that may scare you.
Showing kindness and compassion to others should really be considered a super power. A simple act of kindness can transform someone’s day or possibly change a life. Kindness also happens to be addictive and contagious. The kinder you are, the more you want to be kind, and the more those around you will follow your example. We were made to take care of those around us, it’s not a trait that you either have or you don’t, we all can be kind and are internally wired to feeling amazing when we show kindness to another person.
Passion, enthusiasm, excitement; whatever you want to call it, be that! Feel deeply about something, find a cause, look for things that move you to joy; or to action; or to tears, but invest part of who you are in things that you can be passionate about. Without something to be passionate about life can be very dull and sadly lacking in purpose.
Intelligence is great but not everyone has a super high IQ score. However, being able to use the smarts and knowledge that you have, and apply it in a way that brings benefit, shows wisdom. A wise person will be able to navigate challenges and obstacles without causing more issues for themselves and those around them.
“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” – Miles Kington
Curiosity may seem like an odd trait to desire but a yearning to ask questions and to seek out answers broadens your horizons and makes the world a much bigger place to explore. Curiosity will also teach you that not everyone thinks, feels or looks the way you do and spurs you on to discover more about the diverse and expansive world we live in. You will never be bored if you are curious and the world becomes a much richer and more wonderful place as you seek out the answers to your questions.
There is nothing wrong with being beautiful, looking nice or taking pride in your appearance. In fact the Bible tells us that we are God’s masterpieces, beautifully crafted and who ever saw an ugly masterpiece? However, the problems start when you pursue external ‘perfection’ above everything else. It’s a fools game because there will always be something to change or something else to desire. There is a an old saying that goes:
“Beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes to the bone”
If you neglect to cultivate character and inner strength, your outward appearance will never truly cover those flaws and a truly beautiful person (whether male or female) is someone who has character and who understands their worth. The Bible tells us that physical charms are only temporary and outward beauty is vain but a woman (or a man) who seeks after that which is eternal and a relationship with God has made the wisest of choices.
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