He loves to watch me put on my makeup, whenever I do.

His favorite is to pick out eyeshadow colours.

Today, as I hurriedly put on my daily bare minimum face of blush and mascara to ready myself for ladies Bible study, he said to me in passing, “I hope the other ladies don’t think that you’re un-pretty, Mom.”

Shocked, I asked him to repeat himself.

Un-pretty.

My nearly 5-year-old doesn’t even know a negative adjective about physical appearance, but still he manages to catch the drift that society places value on appearances.

I leaned into him, and I said “Well, sweetie, does Daddy think that I’m pretty?  And do you think that I’m pretty?”

Yes.

“Then that’s all I care about.  I have much more to do than to wonder whether or not ladies think that I’m un-pretty or not. God made me, and He thinks I’m special.”

He was satisfied with that answer, happy in his mom’s confidence.

But it’s tumbling around in my soul.

What am I teaching my kids about beauty?

I’m a lover of beauty, by nature.  And God has gifted me with the ability to find beauty in the minute moments of everyday life.  This is a special gift because of the field that we’re knowingly stepping into.  I didn’t realize how perfectly God had placed me in marriage and in my personality, until we were instructed to find joy and beauty in our daily lives as missionaries as antidotes for all of the pain and suffering and trauma we’ll be surrounded with.

“I can do that!” my heart sang.  “I can find the goodness of God!  I can see the beautiful!  I can glory in a flower, in the smell of the forest, in the way foods taste.  God is good because God created wonder and texture and colour and sound.”

But, still, I find myself perplexed that my near-school-age child has learned that people in our society value appearance over character.  That he believes (rightly so) that Christian women judge each other on appearance. Maybe I’m just too much of a Pollyanna to have predicted this moment in time, but it was a striking realization for me, so I thought I would write it down.

How have you navigated teaching your children about healthy self-image, identity, and appearances?  Have you struggled with this yourself?

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