God Sees Nothing But 10s

God sees nothing but 10s.

When I turned thirteen I began to have horrible problems with my complexion. I’d spend countless hours looking in the mirror, wishing it would say something different than it did. Like any other young person I wanted to fit in with friends. I wanted girls to like me. I would literally try to hide parts of my face while I was having conversations in hopes people wouldn’t notice the obvious.

I was tortured by my appearance and cried myself to sleep many nights.

If having clean skin would’ve done it I’d have had a perfect complexion. I spent enough time in the bathroom to carve Mt. Rushmore out of toothpaste. But this was out of my control.

Now my hair is waving goodbye. I’m a happily married adult now with two grown children, a beautiful granddaughter, and more good friends than any man has a right to. But guess what? I’m still not happy about my retreating hair. I’d still like to look my best.

Which brings me to what is troubling me this morning. I’ve never thought politics is going to save the world. Jesus already did that. But I do think our leaders, particularly our President, can set a tone that makes a difference in how we perceive ourselves.

It’s no secret our President-elect has said some troubling things about women.

Much of the discussion in the country is about unity now and giving him the chance to lead. That’s all fine and good. But he’s put some statements out there that I believe require our proactive and ongoing response lest they be believed and fester in the hearts of young people.

“A woman who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.”

At first glance one could slough this off as a sophomoric comment not worthy of our time and attention. But when I heard it I immediately pictured a young girl standing sideways in front of a bedroom mirror hoping desperately to see a curve reflected back at her; worried she would never be able to measure up – to make the grade.

Words matter.

Words have power.

Words have consequences.

What could be the fallout of a comment like this attributed to the “most important” man in the country, the leader and tone-setter for our nation? And to that comment standing unopposed by religious leaders, teachers, and parents?

Young girls might be more likely to:

  • Have underage sex with a boy to prove to themselves that they are desirable and loveable
  • Resort to self-harming behavior because they perceive themselves as inadequate
  • Pester and beg their parents for “corrective” breast augmentation years before their body has even completed growing

Of course a comment like this not only impacts girls. It sends a terrible message to boys as well, validating – and implicitly encouraging – hurtful and demeaning behavior. The last thing we need is a male role model championing the worst hormone- driven instincts of teenage males in an already pornified culture.

So, what can each of us do – today – to make a difference for our young people, especially our young girls, under so much pressure in the hyper-sensitized visual environment in which we find ourselves?

Let me suggest five things:

1 – Remind the young people in our lives that “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

2 – Don’t miss an opportunity to praise a young person (or anyone for that matter) for a job well done, an achievement unrelated to physical attributes.

3 – Be aware of our own personal prejudices in responding to people based on physical attractiveness alone, being equally kind to all people.

4 – Speak out when inappropriate comments based solely on physical attributes are verbalized in our presence,

5 – Be sensitized to appearance-based language and images. When we hear or see something that we think is over-the-line, let’s ask the young people in our lives how they feel about it.

Each one of us is made in the image of God. For us to allow any person to be sorted into a lesser category based on a physical attribute they cannot control lessens all of us. It is beneath our dignity – and an insult to our creator.

God sees nothing but 10s.

 

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