Thursday, April 2, 2009


I’m a Newsweek girl. Have been since… oh, I don’t know. Forever, I guess. I remember being really young and paging through the glossy magazine in search of photographs that would elicit a chill--either from the sheer beauty and truth they encapsulated or from the juxtaposition of the unexpected, like a child’s body floating facedown in a calm pool, white shift fanned out in a soft cloud. Can’t say I like those images, but they do have the power to show me the depth of my naiveté. It’s ponderous, I think.

Yesterday my mail bundle contained a fresh copy of Newsweek, and I (procrastinator that I am) promptly sat down and devoured it cover to cover. Back cover to front cover, of course. It’s the only way to read Newsweek--all the light, artsy articles are in the back, with the political and international hard-hitting sob stories near the front (I like to ease my way in). One of the final (first for me) articles was called “Generation Diva: How our obsession with beauty is changing our kids.” I was hooked after the first paragraph:

There's a scene in "Toddlers & Tiaras," the TLC reality series, where 2-year-old Marleigh is perched in front of a mirror, smothering her face with blush and lipstick. She giggles as her mother attempts to hold the squealing toddler still, lathering her legs with self-tanner. "Marleigh loves to get tan," her mom says, as the girl presses her face against the mirror.

Are you kidding me? I don’t have a daughter, but come on, that’s just not right. Jessica Bennett, the author of “Generation Diva”, goes on to catalog spa days for five-year-olds, laser hair removal instead of shaving, and Botox for girls barely out of training bras. In one staggering statistic she claims that by the time your ten-year-old daughter is fifty, she’ll have spent “nearly $300,000 on just her hair and face.” That’s no typo, there are five zeros in that staggering figure.

I’ll admit I was hyperventilating a bit at this point in the article, though what Jessica revealed next came as no big surprise: we’re priming our girls to be perpetually dissatisfied with themselves. More so, we're creating an entire generation whose identity is tied up in what they look like. I am nothing more than the sum of my clear skin, pouty lips, slender hips… Sigh.

Oh, it breaks my heart for a million different reasons. And yet, this morning I hopped on my computer, checked both of my email accounts, my blogger profile, and my Facebook pages (both personal and public), and felt a little stab of discontent when nothing interesting was going on. No emails from fans, agent, or publisher. Nothing new and noteworthy. Sigh. And all at once it struck me that right now my identity, my entire identity, is hopelessly wrapped up in my writing career. Part of this is because I have a book releasing in a couple weeks (things always get a little crazy around a book release), but I don't like the feeling all the same. I don't like believing that the worth of my existence is tied to my success (or lack thereof) as a writer. How is that any different from some poor tween believing that her beauty lies in the shade of her highlighted hair?

Yuck. The things we do to ourselves.

Anyway, I have a question for you today. What do you base your identity on? Where do you find your affirmation? I realize that this answer can change from day to day, but take a moment to ponder where you're at right now. And then remind yourself: I am so much more than this. I am not what I look like. I am not an extension of my job. I am not simply a wife/mother/daughter/sister or husband/father/son/brother. I am not just a friend of so-and-so. I am not what I do. I am not what I don't do. I am not always who you think I am...

But I am created for a purpose. I am significant. And I am beloved of God.

Have an awesome weekend, Beloved.


  1. I've struggled with something along the same lines my entire life. My love language is words of afirmation so I have always craved the praise about how well I did something, etc...I became a perfectionist, but not really where my appearance was concerned. Just in how I performed tasks and such. If I didn't think I could do it perfectly the first time I wouldn't even try.
    Then when I went to a mom's group the speaker said something that struck me. She was talking about seeing the perfectionist tendencies in her daughter and they realized they had to start praising her for who she was in Christ and not in how she did things. That hit me like a ton a bricks.
    I still struggle with it to this day, but I am learning that I am a child of God and that's where my identity is and not in the affirmations and praise for how well I do things.
    Didn't mean to write a book here. Thanks for posting this. I've caught bits of the Toddlers & Tiaras and it breaks my heart as well.

  2. Such a good post...Joyce Meyer says we are not human doings we are human beings. Be still and know that I am God. Thank you for this beautiful reminder that we are accepted in the Beloved-not because of who we are but because He first loved us. Selah! Pause and calmly think of that.

  3. I have two daughters (five and two years old) and I gasp daily at the vanity my kindergartner is exposed to at school. Most frightening for me right now is that my daughter goes to school with a little girl whose mother has her on a diet of mostly salad so that she will stay thin. My daughter now asks me the caloric content of all that I put on her plate, and it is heart wrenching. If anything, my daughter needs to GAIN weight. I tell her very frequently (almost too much) how beautiful she is, inside and out. Thank you, Nicole, for sharing such thoughtful and heartfelt insights on this topic!

  4. Words of affirmation are big for me, too, Amy. But somehow they're never enough... I'm like an addict--the more I get the more I want. It's a never ending cycle. And you're so right that we ingrain this in our kids. I love my sons and I'm so proud of them; consequently it's very easy to praise them up and down for how smart, handsome, kind, generous, and funny I think they are. No inherent harm in that, but we run the risk of setting them up for feelings of inadequacy any time they aren't super-fabuloso in every possible way. Now I'm writing a book... ;)

    Thanks for your reminders, too, Annie. I appreciate your responses. Thank you for writing exactly the words I needed to read.

    Blessings to you and yours.

  5. Okay, some mom has her kindergartner on a diet?!?! Five-year-olds know what calories are? Am I the only one who thinks this is child abuse??? Oh, Sherry, my heart goes out to your sweet daughter and her friends. Fight on, Mom.

  6. Hey Nicole! I loved what you wrote. It is hard raising little girls in this world but I pray almost every day that their identity is found in Christ alone! I see so many changes just from kindergarten to 1st grade and it has been hard but we continually affirm who she is in Christ and the gifts He has given her. People have such a hard time truly believing that we are LOVED by Him and I pray my kids will believe that and rest in that truth. Just keep praying and speaking truth to these little girls!

  7. Hi Jaymi! So nice to hear from you. :) You're one of the best moms I know--I have no doubt your girls will be beautiful women of God.