Beauty Lies In The Eyes of The Beholder
I picked up the People magazine with Lupita Nyongo on the front page as the most beautiful woman this year. There was this buzz of excitement on all the TV networks about how beautiful she was and how good she looked. Lupita was interviewed by Nightline and talked about how she never really thought of herself as beautiful when she was growing up, and how she prayed to God to make her black skin lighter.
The View also had a show in which they asked Whoopi Goldberg and the other hostesses about beauty. Whoopi admitted that she never thought she was beautiful when she was growing up either. The average teenager today is tormented by societal norms and worries about being too tall or too skinny or too fat, even sometimes worries about being too smart in school.
I was a very skinny, flat-chested teen with a big “derriere” and I dreaded looking at myself in the mirror. Growing up, one of my biggest dreams was to come to America and to get breast implants. I don’t even know how the idea crossed my mind, but it sure took root in me.
What both Lupita and Whoopi have in common is moms and parents who told them they were beautiful. Both of them said they didn’t believe it at the time, but I know their subconscious mind believed it and eventually shaped them to become the wonderful personalities they are now. Teenagers today are faced with so many challenges. Never before has body image become such an important part of life, and it truly is unfortunate that we don’t spend enough time encouraging teens to discover their inner beauty and shine no matter what they look like. Parents play such a vital role in helping their teens develop self-esteem.
1. Affirm your teens. Don’t lie to them. Be sincere.
Teenagers have this radar that absolutely knows when their parents are lying to them. Emphasize their strengths. Look for opportunities to encourage them when they excel. One of the most painful things for teens is to have a parent who always criticizes them and doesn’t seem to notice when they do anything right. No matter how small, notice and comment on it. It builds self-esteem. Lupita’s mom often told her she was beautiful. She says she didn’t believe it then, but now, she’s voted as the most beautiful woman. So what her mom said did make an impact on her life.
2. Talk about the qualities of inner beauty.
Joy reflects on the face and really affects the world all around you. Having joy just puts a natural radiance on your face. Remind your teen that joy and laughter leave fewer wrinkles on the face than anger. Joy is also very contagious and a great thing to share.
3. Teach teens to learn to laugh at themselves.
Yes, teens will be teased about their appearance amongst other things, sometimes it is really painful, but learning to laugh at yourself really takes the sting out of it. People can only tease you so much if you laugh with them rather than allowing them to laugh at you. A sense of humor goes a long way towards creating beauty.
4. Encourage appropriate dressing and cleanliness.
The way one dresses either enhances or detracts from one’s appearance. Nowhere is this more obvious than at the award shows, when we all sit around our TV sets to see who made the best dressed and the worst dressed list. A group of mothers was talking about how teenagers liked to act like they are different, and yet they all want to wear the same clothes and speak the same way. They should be encouraged not to follow fashion blindly. It’s really sad to see how a teen’s attire is so inappropriate, that one misses seeing the person behind the dress.
My friend’s son got a ticket for speeding. Mom called the police to follow up on it. While speaking to the police officer, he commented on how well dressed and polite this young man was, to the extent that he was willing to decrease the charges on the ticket. A teen’s appearance makes a difference.
5. Have a sense of purpose and self-love.
I’m sure you are saying really, what has that got to do with beauty? If you don’t love yourself, how will you do what is best for your body? If you don’t have a sense of purpose, what will motivate you to wake up every day and do what it takes to remain beautiful? Exercise is hard, at least initially, but if you know what you want to achieve I assure you, you will exercise, stay the course, and live longer and look more beautiful. Eating healthy, nutritious food, is a challenge sometimes, but with a sense of purpose, you will make the effort and eat healthy meals.
Parents can do so much to help their teens realize how beautiful they really are. Teach them self love, emphasize their good qualities and model healthy lifestyle choices, and demonstrate the value of laughter and inner joy.
Who knows, your teen may be the next most beautiful person gracing the cover of People Magazine.