Boys want to be strong. This is a well known and accepted fact of life. It is socially appropriate to encourage a boy to develop his strength as he becomes a man. We don’t condemn a grown man for this core desire. In fact, we are wise women if we allow our husbands and boys opportunities to play their sports and have their competitions because using their strength brings out the best in them. If we deny them their physical activity we take away the outlet for their stress.
Girls want to be pretty. This is a well known fact that is not so acceptable. When a little girl wants to develop her beauty, we quince and tell her to stop being so self-centered. When grown women feel stressed and need an outlet, they long for a spa treatment. But do they go? Well, only her hairdresser knows for sure because even if she does pamper herself, she’s too embarrassed to tell you because of the guilt she feels.
The media encourages women to indulge in their core desire for beauty, but society does not. Our husbands would love us to be as cute as the girls in the commercials, but they don’t understand our need for spa time any more than we do their silly games. Yet most men go play their sports wether their wives like it or not–and they encourage each other to play as well. Women, on the other hand, must wrestle with shame in order to enjoy a facial, manicure or new outfit because we have believed the lie that beauty is selfishness. To make matters worse, we fan the flame of that confidence-consuming lie by denying that we care about looking lovely, leaving each of us feeling as if we are completely alone with our need for affirmation. Our greatest defense is to pretend none of it matters. Beauty is child’s play.
We are pressured to obtain beauty, but discouraged from developing it. I was recently asked to speak to a group of teens who were preparing for a formal event. I had very little time and there was no warm-up to prepare the girls for the sensitive topic of Confident Beauty. Their response was intense. When I told them that they were each beautiful, they literally got angry. “No, I’m not!” was proclaimed by many of them in unison, while others rolled their eyes, laughed or dropped their faces.
Obviously, they were battling with their heart’s desire.
After speaking to the girls, I was asked to address the boys in a separate room. The difference in their response was absolutely amazing to me, although I was far from shocked since this is what I deal with on a regular basis. At first the boys were laid back and a bit board, but they suddenly became extremely interested. In fact, they had many questions and even wanted to know their Image Identity. I loved it!
The transition in their interest happened when I told them what I just communicated to you in the first two paragraphs of this blog. Several jaws dropped while they listened. This was something they had never considered before. “Think about it,” I challenged them, “if a girl puts in no effort to be beautiful, what are they? Ugly? And if they put in any effort to be beautiful, what are they? Vain? It’s not an easy thing for girls to find the balance. Cut them a break and don’t make them feel bad while they try to work it out.”
I wasn’t able to help the girls find the balance of Confident Beauty that day. In fact, I really only touched the raw wounds that they are still learning how to guard. It breaks my heart to know that most of them will end up hating, hiding or being hung up on their appearance. I can only hope that the boys they hang around now understand them a little more and will begin to give them permission to BE who they were designed to be. If not, I’m sure they will find a way to pretend it’s no big deal, just like the rest of us.
Perhaps the next women’s rights movement should liberate us to enjoy beauty. Imagine a world where women no longer felt guilty about taking care of themselves and little girls were longer squelched from twirling their dresses and asking for attention. I wonder if the teens in that world would be comfortable with who they are? I wonder if grown women would allow aging to be a part of their beauty and no longer be afraid of it. I doubt any of this will ever happen until we accept that the longing for beauty is not selfish. It is our outlet.
Of course, if we start letting each other enjoy beauty, we should probably start letting our men enjoy their sports, too.
Catrina Welch, Author, Speaker: “I’m an Image consultant without the shopping obsession. I help women and girls overcome confidence conflicts by unveiling the power and purpose of their personal Image Identity (Img.ID) and teaching them to accentuate their authentic beauty so they can forget about their appearance and think about others.” Please consider me as a speaker for your next event. You can find my website at www.CatrinaWelch.com or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked In, Youtube, Goodreads.