“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.”
There’s been a lot of chatter about beauty lately. Specifically, about the messages our children internalize from media.
We can’t dispute the fact that dolls have changed over time. My daughter’s Strawberry Shortcake doll is every bit the modern pop star compared to the elfin doll of my youth. I want to hate it…I really do. I want to beg the toy makers to stop sexualizing dolls and sending mixed messages to little girls.
But she loves it. She doesn’t notice that this new version of Strawberry looks anorexic and should probably gulp down a few more of the smoothies that she serves at her café. She doesn’t know that Strawberry never had dreams of pop stardom when I was a child. She only knows what she has in her hands.
And she genuinely enjoys playing with these little fruit scented girls. She likes to set up the market, create lavish parties, and come up with adventures of her own.
It’s hard to maintain anger at emaciated dolls when your daughter only sees the good in them. And this time to play…this unstructured free play that sends her imagination into overdrive…that’s what it’s all about.
But still – I get it. I understand why so many people experienced outrage when Disney changed the latest princess and made her a little less tough and a lot more sexual. I completely understand the frustration. She was perfect the way she was, why did they have to change her?
There are two sides to every story, however, and I fear that we might be missing an opportunity here.
If we are looking to princesses or fruit scented dolls to teach our daughters about the true meaning of beauty, we are making a mistake. Princesses, Strawberry Shortcake and company, and all of the other dolls on the market are just pretend. They aren’t real. They are meant for play and to stimulate the imagination.
They are not meant to educate our daughters about beauty and body image. Perhaps they’ve blurred the lines just a little too much, but it is up to us to clarify. It is our job to raise confident daughters who feel comfortable in their own skin.
It is our job to show our daughters those two very different versions of the same princess and say, “Look! Strong and confident is good! Look how silly this new version looks…”
I don’t know about you, but I want my daughter to know that beauty isn’t simply in the face. Beauty is kindness, empathy, and helping others. Beauty is laughing for so long that your stomach aches and tears pour from your eyes. Beauty is love with no end and memories that last a lifetime.
Beauty is a rose covered in raindrops and a pink/orange sunset on a hot summer night.
When I gaze into my daughter’s eyes I see kindness. I see curiosity, love, empathy, and just a little bit of mischief. I see the innocence of childhood wrapped up in the love of family.
I see a light in her heart that brightens my day and makes my world complete.
Beauty isn’t found in toys, magazines, or music videos.
True beauty can only be found when you have that light in your heart.
And then, only then, do you see that beauty is everywhere.