Dear daughter, you’re beautiful, regardless of what the media tells you

Dear daughter,

You’re far too young to be aware of this, but, in the last few days, many people have watched a video of a model being “altered” by photoshop. It shows her artificial transformation from real and attractive to fraudulent and malformed — or, as they call it in the fashion world, “sexy.”

See, nowadays we use computers to “improve” images of real women, which is quite appropriate. After all, computers are manmade creations, just as our modern conception of “beauty” is a manmade creation. Modern “beauty” — or whatever you want to call it — certainly isn’t natural, and it most assuredly doesn’t come from God. It’s manufactured. It’s a product. True beauty, on the other hand, is art. It’s full of life. It’s unique and dynamic and vibrant.

It’s real. It’s you.

Hollywood and the fashion industry have concocted a “beauty” that is separate and apart from reality. What they sell is a marketing ploy. It’s assembly line sexy. It’s about as beautiful as the canned food aisle at Walmart. Those plastic, painted, stick-figures you see on TV and in magazines — they are androids. Half human, half machine. They start out as humans, until computers, camera tricks, filters, and silicone suck out their souls and turn them into size zero Frankensteins.

But that’s the price of living in a culture of consumerism, where we spend every waking minute surrounded by advertisements and product placement. Everyone’s got something to sell, and very few of them are selling anything you need. So, to compensate, the peddlers pull out their shotguns and blow giant holes in your psyche. Then they convince you that they’ve got the perfect thing to plug the gaps. They try to create a void in your conscience, so they can start pouring their poison into it. As far as this strategy goes, constructing an unachievable, inhuman, digitized idea of beauty is the ultimate scam. And it’s paid dividends.

Being rail thin, without blemish, perfectly proportioned and exactly symmetrical — these are superfluous, unattainable and unrealistic goals. But all the media has to do is inject into your head the image of a rail thin, blemish-less, perfectly proportioned, exactly symmetrical (and totally hallucinatory) woman. The allure of this fantasy human is enough to intoxicate and captivate a lot of people. They’ll spend the rest of their lives chasing beauty like a heroin addict chases heaven. What they both want is real, but they’re looking in the wrong places, and eventually the pursuit will destroy them.

When I think of all of this, I’m filled with a certain fear. You’re just a baby right now, but that will change sooner than I’d like it to. Lord, you’re beautiful. I’m telling you: you’re gorgeous. I have you lying here beside me, asleep, as I write this. You have this glow and this grace; it’s impossible to look at you and not smile. Impossible, I guarantee it. And then I think about the predators in the fashion industry and the entertainment industry. And I think about how they’ll try to tell you that you’re not good enough. They’ll try to convince you that you need a thousand pounds of makeup and designer clothing to really look appealing. They’ll try to sell you on the lie that beauty is a competition; that you ought to be constantly measuring your appearance against strangers.

You are a masterpiece, a treasure, a work of art, and they’ll try to persuade you to see yourself as a rough sketch; one that needs to be “edited” and “improved.”

But you’re an angel, daughter, and they are godforsaken liars.

Oh, believe me, so many of us have bought into their deception. Men and women alike, even if we aren’t chasing Hollywood beauty, we still dress ourselves up in some way. We present a façade, in hopes of appealing to the mass collective. It’s gotten worse now with the internet, social media, Reality TV. We feed that beast inside that wants us to care what strangers think of us. Of the entire population of the planet, only an infinitesimal percentage of them will ever be more than anonymous to us. Only the tiniest fraction will ever give us more than a passing glance, but we want even the strangers to feel something about us when they look our way. Feel what? Envy. Admiration. Inferiority. A combination of all three. We certainly can’t allow them to carry on their day feeling better, or more attractive, or smarter, or more successful.

But we gain nothing from living this way. We do everything we can to impress the unknown faces in the crowd, and where does it take us? Those faces are likely immersed in their own self absorbed psychological vacuums, and whatever impression we make on them will evaporate as soon as we leave their line of sight.

This is what’s become of so many of us.

I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t happen to you. I’ll do whatever it takes to shield you from the parasites who profit from this madness. Whatever it takes. I’ll set the TV on fire if I have to. I’ll probably dance around it while it burns. I’ve always had a TV, but I’m not sure that it’s ever brought anything but lies and false hopes into my living room. Well, that and football. So it isn’t all bad.

I’ll literally put blinders on you when we go to the grocery store so you can’t see the magazines in the checkout aisle.

I’ll move us all into a shack in the wilderness, so that this horrific culture, and the zombies who inhabit it, can’t touch you. I’d rather leave our “civilized” society behind than allow it to take your purity and innocence, and replace it with an eating disorder and a shopping addiction.

Or maybe these drastic measures aren’t necessary. Maybe Mom and I can just hold you close and love you, and maybe that will be enough. And when Dad tells you that you’re beautiful, maybe you’ll always believe him. Maybe it will be enough to make you into the sort of girl who laughs at the idea of spending thousands of dollars to keep up with “fashion trends.” Maybe it will be enough to stop you from ever wanting something as insane as cosmetic surgery. Maybe it will be enough to keep you from starving yourself, like the “supermodels” in the magazines.

I hope so. I pray for this. Remember, Mom and Dad are two of the VERY few people on Earth who will tell you the truth about yourself. The truth that, from your first moments in this world, you’ve been like a vision, full of beauty and light. You don’t need to be “photoshopped,” and you never will. You don’t need a “touch-up” or a “correction.” You were formed by God and given to us as a gift from Paradise. You don’t need to add fad diets, expensive shoes and forty layers of makeup to that. That’s the truth, but few will tell it. You will meet a lot of people, and many of them will want something from you. So they’ll attack your self image, make you vulnerable, and then try to take it.

That’s the game.

Never play it.

I’ll protect you from these forces for as long as I can, but that won’t last forever.

I hope you never need to read this letter. I hope all of these realizations come as second nature to you. But, if ever the time comes when you need a reminder: here it is. Whether it’s 17 years from now, or 25, or 40, or when your Mom and Dad are dead and gone. Here it is. You’re beautiful.

Love,

Dad

*****

Find me on Facebook.
@MattWalshRadio

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153 Responses to Dear daughter, you’re beautiful, regardless of what the media tells you

  1. You brought tears to my eyes with this one. Thank you.

  2. SLIMJIM says:

    Very touching…I’m thinking of this as I have young baby daughters

  3. Gabriella says:

    I cried.

  4. AmyP says:

    Do you mind if I share this with my baby girl too? I don’t write as brilliantly, but this is exactly the message she’ll need to hear.

  5. Rhonnie says:

    Amen! Something I think about often.

  6. Payton Hayes says:

    I am 21 with six sisters of my own who have all in one way or another had some kind of disorder or problem with the way they look because of today’s media and propoganda. I’ve tried saying all of the things from your letter above to them in person over the years. Now, they are fine, but I have a 1 year old daughter that I worry about every day. Her mother still has problems with the way she looks and my daughter lives there with her. I fear every day of my life now that my daughter will have those issues too. I thank you for this letter to your daughter. It has given me something to use so that I can help others in my life. It was heart felt, and it brought me to sobbing tears… in fact as I write this response the thought that I’m not the only father that feels this way has the tears still pouring from my eyes. Again I thank you. And I will be adding you on Facebook. Я вас люблю.

  7. Alice says:

    I wish my dad thought and had said this to me.

  8. Nicole says:

    I showed this to my 7 yr old,

    she says “that photoshop should not be done, because it’s not nice to see fake girls on magazines since it’s not real and that we can’t be super Photoshop girls, trying to live a life like that.”

    I as a parent know how to use Photoshop and my daughter has seen herself as a green martian carrying an elephant, fun effects but the transformation of the young girl she found upsetting. This video has changed both of our views to magazines at the checkout counter!

    thank you

  9. MK says:

    I cried when I read this. My dad tried to tell me how beautiful I was as a teenager–and I wouldn’t let him. I would literally yell at both him and my mom, demanding that they never utter those words to me. Only now do I realize how hurtful my struggles with self-image must have been to my parents.

    I pray that your daughter is blessed with the wisdom to see past our shallow ideals of beauty, but even if she lashes out at you somewhere down the road, just know that she is beyond blessed to have a dad who gets it. It took me a little while (mid-20s), but I’m there now.

    And for the record, my dad never quit telling me.

  10. Reblogged this on schoolaborate and commented:
    I have two beautiful nieces. I always tell them: “Ganda-ganda ng Nana ko! Ganda-ganda ng Aliya ko!” (My Nana is beautiful! My Aliya is beautiful!) It’s a practice I’ve carried over from my relationship with my Mom, who passed away last year. Up to her last day, I have told her she was beautiful. She still is, in my heart. True beauty is a nurtured feeling, a shared love and understanding, not someone’s commercialized idea trending on twitter.

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  14. polarbearla says:

    I wish my mom and dad would have said this to me. It’s been and still is really hard to deal with these images and messages in our society and not have a grounded foundation. People need to tell this to their girls NOW!! And, never stop telling them, even if they are 40.

  15. N says:

    So there’s something wrong with being a size 0?

    • Tony says:

      Only if you want to have kids, that percent body fat isn’t healthy for having a growing baby inside of you. Or if you want to do pretty much any physical activity, as you most likely won’t have the energy to complete it. So I recommend not getting in any situations that would require physical effort. I recommend Yoga as a workout. It’s also bad if it gets windy, you might want to hold on to someone normal sized.

      But on a more serious note, there is nothing actually wrong with being size 0, and that is also not what Matt is talking about at all, you missed the boat entirely. There is something wrong with a society that demands everyone be size 0 and says you’re ugly if you’re not.

  16. Smith says:

    I want to start out by telling you how great this piece of writing is…for the most part. You touch on a lot of points that are very important for girls (and women) to know and understand. Everyone has the right to feel beautiful and not be ridiculed for one flaw or another. We all are perfect just the way we are. However, that brings me to my next point, when you refer to “size 0 Frankenstein’s.” You are doing exactly what you are saying not to do. Some women are naturally very small and actually try to gain wait as to not be ridiculed by others. These women are just as beautiful and perfect as the size 6 or size 16 women. I was fortunate enough to be raised by amazing parents who instilled a sense of self-confidence in me and my siblings that I wish everyone had. However, I did spend years in junior high and high school wishing I could gain weight so people would stop commenting on my weight and making it an issue. I have always eaten well and taken care of my body, but I have never over-exercised or pushed my body to unreasonable limits. I am now what I would consider a highly educated, successful 28-year-old professional who still deals with this regularly. In fact, I have a good friend who actually changed high schools because her peers bullied her so much because she “too skinny.” Please, let your daughters know they are beautiful inside and out. Instill strong self-confidence. Lead them to make wise choices and know that media is corrupt. But please, do not make the natural size 0 ladies out to be monsters. Some of us really aren’t trying to be this thin.

  17. Matt;
    Nice, shared it with my girls. Her’s something for you. One dad to another…
    Jp
    http://jeffsmessydesk.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/the-father-clock%E2%80%A6/

  18. Linds says:

    Thank you for sharing such a personal letter. This subject is near and dear to me heart and I wanted to share my two favorite groups that promote the sentiment you expressed:

    http://www.jeankilbourne.com/
    http://www.beautyredefined.net/

    Thank you again,
    Linds

  19. Crystal says:

    This rant needs to be framed somewhere.

Comments are closed.