Why Men Don't Tell You You're Beautiful
I read this post by Matt Walsh a while back. It was a letter to his daughter, who is still very young, about her beauty and how he hopes that the magazine rack and social media will never convince her she isn’t beautiful. He’s knows it’s wishful thinking but it was a very well-written and honest piece from a father to his daughter. I’ve thought about it a lot. Partly because I get it. I have a dad who feels the same way about me and my sisters and made it clear to us growing up. He knew it was important for a father to tell his daughter he loved her and that she is beautiful. Many days I remember this and am so so grateful for it.
But I’ve also thought about this letter a lot because it fell flat for me. I wanted to love it and agree with everything he said but something about it sounded hollow. Reading it not as a letter written personally to me (I think this will be a whole different story for Walsh’s daughter one day, and it will be treasured by her. I have not doubt of that.), but as a woman in general, I didn’t walk away feeling better about myself or my appearance, reminded to ignore the messages on the fashion websites and Instagram accounts I follow. Instead, I felt confused by the message.
Walsh talks about the standards of beauty in our culture and how they warp the young girl’s mind into thinking she isn’t good enough, pretty enough, thin enough, all that. This is true. I agree that the media has not been the best for our self-esteem, but it’s more than the images themselves that confuse girls, and women, about what we’re supposed to look like. It’s deeper than that. When I saw cover girls and Most Beautiful lists growing up, I made the connection that whatever girl was being splashed across various media avenues was the girl that was desirable to a man. It’s a subconscious connection I think we all make. She is being upheld as beautiful = she is what men want.
This is why it’s hard for me to listen to a man talk about the wrong message the media is sending women about our bodies, because for as long as I can remember I have associated women in the media as the women men want. It’s confusing to hear them say otherwise. It also confirms something I’ve been suspicious of for a while now that most of you probably figured out a long time ago, men are not able to make women feel beautiful. Temporarily, yes. Long term, no. That is far too heavy a load to bear and too high an expectation to put on men anyways. And because of this, I don’t think it has to be their role to convince us to ignore the media either. As long as the convincing is coming from a male voice, we will be confused.
I think it’s why I almost ignored the beautiful letter Matt Walsh wrote, and I think it’s why I ignore most guys when they speak out about beauty standards. It’s too confusing for me and by default I don’t absorb his message. When I do perk up, is when a woman I respect writes or speaks on the topic. I perk up when the focus is on my innate worth that is in Christ and focused less on working to ignore the messages that have always been there and always will be there. It’s a conversation every woman should have with every woman, and it’s a conversation that needs to go deeper than the media and its messages.
Andrea – don’t you think the message can carry more “punch” when it is accurately stated by a male? It seems to me as though it could potentially be a stronger statement. Just “thinking out loud” with you. Blessings on your day!!
Since we’re “thinking out loud” my first thought is that that’s a pretty arrogant statement. “-don’t you think the message can carry more “punch” when it is accurately stated by a male?” What makes a man’s opinion any better than a woman’s opinion? Especially when it relates to an issue that directly impacts women. The idea that a man’s word carries more weight than a woman’s is arrogance that needs to be left in the trash. Just thinking out loud.
Andrea – One of the things to keep in mind about the media is that the media’s reason for existence is to sell things. The media will sell anything, makeup, hair care products, clothing, cars, medicine, beer, war, etc. And in every case, they use the same ploy, “Without this you are nothing”. You’ll look years younger with Oil of Olay. You’ll make all the other farmers jealous in the 2014 Ford F-250. You’ll get the girl of your dreams when you use Axe Body Spray. You’ll get the man of your dreams with these breast enlargements. Every bit of it is a big lie. The media doesn’t care what you look like, smell like, drive, or drink. They just don’t care, because tomorrow they will be trying to sell you something else.
Here’s the weird part, so stay with me. When you are in love you are a lot like the media. I mean that part where they don’t care what you look like, smell like, drive, or drink. Because when you really love someone you are going to see them at their worst and you are still going to love them. You are going to love them regardless of the bad hair, crooked teeth, halitosis, knobby knees, flat chest, beer belly, and double chin. Even with all those “flaws” you will think that person is the most handsome, most beautiful person in the world. It’s not the outside that matters. It’s the inside. It’s the heart, mind, and soul of the person that makes the person and that is what you love. That stuff on the outside just adds character.
So, ignore what the media is trying to sell you and remember this, God made you in his image.
Keep up the good work and thanks for your perspectives.
Loved this Andrea. Find our beauty in Christ. Ann Voskamp is so encouraging.
Love this. I think the letter also falls flat because even coming from a body positivity standpoint of “you are beautiful”, the message is still upholding the idea that beauty is a woman’s worth, her job. That as a woman, you are a body first and a person second. The men in my life would find it silly to be told “love your body as it is” – they already do! And they also don’t spend time believing their body defines them. Their body is a vehicle to experience life. I think a vastly more valuable letter to a daughter would be to toss the idea of looking good, and encourage her to feel good. Eat, play, have adventures, be physically comfortable, honor and listen to the wisdom of her body.