Monday, June 20, 2011

looking for ugly

This is an email conversation between a few women - after we watched this short video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6wJl37N9C0

Sigh. I was Ichthus this past week and heard a popular youth speaker (in fact, he has his own ministry, travels and speak to youth groups and parents - an 'expert') and he talked in simplistic terms about what was wrong with our daughters and our sons. He was a brilliant comedian, but his material on human formation was painfully thin and misguided. When he talked about girls he said that girls need to have someone who values them. Yes. I agree. But then he took the "Captivating" theory and talked only about girls needing to be feel pretty. That they need someone to say they are pretty and women can't tell them that because 'all women hate their bodies.' He gave a rather funny and poignant monologue on how women 'look for ugly' on themselves - and it is true as it relates to body image. But he didn't take it any further than that and in fact, said that men are responsible to help girls know they are pretty. SIGH He talked about how a good man must think of all the little girls around him as their nieces and "help them know they are pretty." (apparently all the 'good' men will be going to jail...just saying....)

Anyway, one other thing he said is this (almost a quote), "All the girls are, like, We want equal rights!!! (he said this in a squeaky voice) ... well, where is THAT getting us?"

You know, this makes me so sad. If my connections of thoughtful mature women heard this they would be very upset - and it would further dismiss the Christian voice as unworthy of a place at the table. But everyone LOVED his talk ... they ate it up because it was funny and well, easy.

Just an illustration of how far we are off on this whole woman's thing. I think if we are talking about women we must talk about our bodies - we are bodily in every way - even in our spirituality, but what can we say that is more than that?

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That was profound, and oh, so true. One of the women in Book Club was telling us about her daughter. A few years ago ---- was tall, slender, an A-plus student, athletic, responsible, kind, lots of friends. But, of course, her first worry was, "Mom, Am I pretty?" Her mother, a scientist and teacher at an elite private school was sickened to discover that her daughter, despite all the mother's best effort, still wondered if she was pretty and still worried about it.

---- is now 23, almost finished her first degree, has a boyfriend and many accomplishments. She is not conventionally pretty, but she is accomplished in many ways and will be one of life's movers and shakers. I hope she doesn't still worry about her face.

I am 49 and a half, and I still want to be pretty.

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I don't know anybody who doesn't want to be attractive. Women have vastly different ideas about what attractive means, but every culture has some measure of beauty.Think of National Geographic and the women with rings on their necks, or weird tattoos, or huge butts. Think of the pasty-faced geisha. Every group has a way to measure female attractiveness. So, as warped and sick as our culture is, I think it goes much deeper than that. Either our desire is innate and God-given, or it is the result of the fall. What do you think?

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Just this morning before I reluctantly rolled out of bed, I prayed for something to move me, to give me food for thought, to inspire change, growth. This is also the daily battle I live with my preteen who is beginning to develop and struggling with the changes in her body. She is amazingly talented, but all of that pales in comparision to the messages of society, to be thin, pretty, desirable. She never feels "enough". Can you imagine the power and beauty of women if we could all "wear joy"!
______________________________

Yes - I wish we could find the crack - a way we could break this thing open. There must be something we are missing. Do we have anything to say about this?

6 comments:

Krissi said...

I had so many issues with the speakers during the year I did some photography for Ichthus. It was everything I hated about youth ministry. I was sad for those kids.

Karla said...

My home has no full-length mirrors and no scales. I would hate to know how the much time the two robbed from me as I was growing up. No more, I say!

Karla said...

I believe that there is such a thing as true beauty. I also tend to agree with the Captivating message that Woman, made in God's image, bears true beauty--that she brings it forth and nourishes with it; that beauty speaks the message, "All will be well" to a world that wonders. I also agree with the poet, Woman is beautiful (not just pretty) and when she is at rest, she reveals true beauty.

Soccer Mom said...

I know we are in trouble when we place too much of our value and our emphasis on how we look, but I also think we are in trouble when we don't care enough. I have a person in my life who has forsworn fashion, beauty ideals, haircuts, makeup, and anything else that could be understood as conforming to the cultural norms. She bathes and does laundry, but that's about it. And, if I'm honest, I'm embarassed when we're in public together. Sometimes I cringe a bit inside when I observe the reactions of others. I feel shallow when I catch myself, but truly, I think feel her lack of concern signals a lack of respect in general for the people she's with. Is it okay to wear something clean but hideous to a dressup event? If a person is not in fact reaching the societal norm in terms of grooming and dress code, not because of lack of resources but because she is making a statement, are others as cheap and cheesy as we fear we are when we react with a little bit of shame that she's our guest?

I guess this is a roundabout way of saying that as much as I hate the preoccupation and the entire issue of "prettiness" at times, I feel compelled to strive for a happy medium. I do not want to embarass my companions but I do not want to lay awake in bed obsessing about my outfits, either. I feel some attention to detail is required to signal respect for my fellow citizens, but too much emphasis on the outward signals a lack of respect to the God who created me and loves me as I am.

I wish I knew where the lines are.

Krissi said...

I think all we need to do is look at creation to realize that beauty holds a valuable place in God's heart. It should hold a place in our heart, too. Of course it's important for us to learn to see the difference between appropriate and inappropriate beauty and attractiveness, but swearing off of it altogether is perhaps not anymore helpful than walking around in a mini-skirt and stilettos.

Karla said...

I think there is something fulfilling about reflecting the beauty I feel inside on my outside (a dress I love, a special pair of earrings, a new shade of lipstick).