Improving Self-Esteem

Have you seen the Dove commercial on tv, where they show a young girl, maybe ten years old, being bombarded with images of skinny, beautiful, sexy women? Then the narrator explains that Dove sponsors self-esteem workshops for girls so they will know they too are beautiful.

There’s a quicker way to promote her “self-esteem.”

Turn off the television.

If we are certain, as we are, that television advertising encourages unreal expectations in children about body image and sexual identity, then get rid of the television! Don’t allow fashion or celebrity magazines in your house; discourage yor children from looking at them elsewhere.

“Self-esteem” is one of the old sins; it is an exaggerated view of one’s one worth, a kind of vanity. It is putting oneself above others. If the problem for young women is that they think they must be something they cannot be, it has nothing to do with self-esteem, and everything to do with an epidemic of dysmorphia – a fear that something is wrong with one’s body.

Now, modest, plain, headcovering women rarely worry about how their bodies look. We’re covered up anyway. We accept that female bodies come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. We accept that “wide variety” can define our rear view as we get older! If we worry about it, it’s because we are still carrying images from the world in our heads. Part of our growth as Christians is to get rid of those old, useless, even sinful images.

Teach your daughters that God made us different from each other. There is no right or wrong. Turn off the television and teach our girls that modesty and humility are more important than popularity and what the world calls “beauty.” They won’t need “self-esteem workshops” – they will have confidence instead.

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12 thoughts on “Improving Self-Esteem

  1. I agree that television, cinema and the media does exert an unhealthy influence on the young and also the general viewing public, perhaps a sweeping statement but if advertising didn’t influence our lives companies wouldn’t spend millions each year on advertising time and space. However I don’t agree that “self esteem” is a sin. Self esteem is about the individual feeling valued, every time we tell our children that they have done well we help build their confidence, show them that they fit in, that they are valued as a person, that they can succeed but perhaps more importantly, whether they only reach part of their goal they are still valued, loved and that we are proud of their accomplishments.

    • “Self esteem” indeed appears in the old monastic lists of sins! Self confidence is built by approval (when warranted) from trusted family and friends – we need to give our children plenty of that. I spent some time today among other Plain people – I am so impressed with the self-confidence of the youngies! They know what they are doing and they do it well.

  2. I have to agree! Perhaps Dove means well but they got it wrong. Nice try. Sometimes I get that twinge myself of being self conscious about my weight being overweight but mostly i just accept overly fluffy little me! One thing I do like about wearing only dresses now, my crooked body isn’t nearly as noticeable.
    One last thing, you know I feel sad for women who starve themselves and worry so much about fitting into tight clothes or shameful bathing suits. if we spent as much time reading our Bibles and studying the Word as we do about our appearance that would be awesome!

    • I have to remind myself that I am over fifty, and the svelte swimsuit figure is for my athletic young niece! Yes, the dresses disguise the various scars and other incidents my body has suffered. Better than having to explain them!

  3. There is a difference between self esteem and self confidence. Self esteem as you so aptly put it is a self-centered view comparing yourself to a worldly perfection. Self confidence is knowing you have value apart from how you look. It is hard for youth to understand this subtle difference, especially when constantly bombarded with media. Even if a parent doesn’t allow it in the home, they can’t totally shield their children from it because of peer pressure. Peer pressure can be a very damaging thing to young self confidence. That’s why parents need to play an active role in who their children’s friends are and what they do together.

    Unfortunately, their peers generally aren’t influenced greatly by our Christian children, the children are influenced by the worldly peers. This is true both public and private schools. Yes, I’m talking about shielding and protecting them. It’s called parental guidance. Like you said, if something (like tv or magazines) are lowering the self confidence, parents need to get rid of it for the good of the child.

    • I now wish I had homeschooled my own brilliant and different children. I think they would have had more self confidence if they had faced less peer pressure.

  4. Hello Magdalena, thee has honed in on this issue very well. So much in our society is designed to make all of us feel inadequate. Vanity is a trap for each of us! thy friend in Christ, Thea

    “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. ” William Penn/Quaker

    • Friends, I did home school my daughter, Hannah and my son, Morgan. It was a blessing for each of us! thy friend in Christ, Thea Pollock

  5. I don’t know, I don’t think television makes such a big difference in how you look at yourself. I think it is more your general attitude towards yourself and others. A realism and an acceptance of who you are and what you look like.

    I enjoy working out and I care about what I eat (although I must admit that I have just stuffed my face with licorice) but I do not diet and I do not think it is the end of the world to stay home instead of working out. I know I do not look like women in magazines but I still look at myself and I think that I’m pretty. I accept that I am short and that I’m broad shouldered. It is more annoying that it is hard to find clothes that are not too long and that fit over my shoulders. On the whole I like my body and my looks and even as a teenager when I was much less confident I liked myself. I could not really say so because everyone complained that they where fat, but I did not really dislike my body or myself even back then. I did believe however that my life would become instantly better if I were prettier or skinnier. That I do not believe today.

    As a grown-up I now know that my worth comes from other things than my looks and I do not seek to look pretty all the time. (although I actually think that I do most of the time) If someone doesn’t like my looks, that’s their problem not mine, I’m who I am.

  6. Not being overly concerned about one’s body is well and good, BUT, remember, we are not our own.

    We belong first to God:
    “1Cr 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

    And, those of us who are married belong to our spouses, and have a duty to keep ourselves looking nice for them:
    “1Cr 7:4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.”

    And, even those who are not married ought, to make an effort to maintain a reasonably pleasant appearance, for the sake of Charity toward their fellow human beings.

    • I so agree – there’s no reason going around like a bag of rags! And your last comment made me laugh! My mother would say to me when I would just throw on any old clothes for the day, “You’ll scare the horses!” which was something of a non sequitur since we had no horses.

      I let my husband pick out colours for my dresses, which will probably make me a little birghter than my favoured black and white. He is recently vision-impaired, and colour is something he is beginning to enjoy.

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