Recently there have been numerous articles and discussions regarding what we tell children about their appearance. Several articles have been written regarding the dangers of telling girls they are pretty. The authors of such publications argue that comments regarding a child’s beauty place too much emphasis on outward appearance. You can read two such articles here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-bloom/how-to-talk-to-little-gir_b_882510.html and here: http://www.parents.com/blogs/unexpectedly-expecting/2011/12/12/must-read/please-dont-tell-my-little-girl-shes-pretty/.
Certainly beauty is more than outward appearance. And of course we want all children to grow up knowing that it is what’s on the inside that counts. Too much focus on outward appearance can distract from the true person. But at the same time, I think we need to strike the proper balance.
Children are beautiful. And they need to know that! We are all beautiful because we are all made in God’s image. Genesis 1:27 says that
“God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.”
We are created in God’s perfect image. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 6: 19
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”
Clearly we can see that our Lord created us to be beautiful, in His own image, and that we should respect and care for bodies.
God created us in His image, yes. But not just our bodies. Our whole selves, body and soul. We are called to respect our bodies, but more importantly to care for our souls. In 1 Samuel 16:7 we read
“But the Lord said to Samuel: ‘Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because man sees appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.”
The Lord sees our hearts, our souls, and our body. He looks at us for our whole being, beautiful inside and out. Because we are created in His image and our bodies are made to be the temple of the Holy Spirit within us, our Lord does not want us to neglect our appearance. We need to tell children that they are beautiful because God made them beautiful. And not just children, but all people. That we are all beautiful because God made us all. But we can’t forget that God made out hearts too. He can see our hearts and souls, so we need to make those even more beautiful! It is not sinful to take care in our appearance, but we do need to strive for true beauty, not just worldly beauty.
True beauty is a unity of body and soul in Christ. To be truly beautiful we must go further than hair, makeup, and the latest trends. We need to make our souls beautiful through prayer, scripture, the sacraments, and works of charity. If we focus on making our hearts and souls beautiful, that inward beauty will shine through and make us truly beautiful in the eyes of God.
“Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.” ~Saint Augustine