Real Beauty vs. the World's Beauty

“I've got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don't want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I'd rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before 'thin'. And frankly, I'd rather they didn't give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be Stupid Girls.”  -J.K. Rowling

I was going to add a picture to this post. I Googled "thin supermodels" because I wanted to be fair. I knew if I Googled "anorexic supermodels" I'd get an unfairly skinny assortment of girls. What I found was still shocking and it made me sad. I found girls who have traded health and vitality for a super skinny body.

The hazard of writing this is that those who are really thin will possibly disregard this entirely because they may think I'm just jealous. After all, isn't it a given that those of us who are at the other end of the spectrum would rather be really thin than where we are right now?

The answer to that is, "NO!" And I speak from living both sides of the weight issue.

I weighed 103 lbs when I left on my mission and 112 lbs when I got married. I'm 5'6". I could give you the overused lines that are uttered by those who are super-thin. I could tell you I was really active or that no matter what I did, I couldn't gain weight. I could tell you I ate all the time and that was just the place my body felt its best. I could tell you those things but they wouldn't be any more true than if I tried to tell you I'm at my ideal body weight right now. In a perfect world, I'd be somewhere between there and here. 

But honestly, I don't want to talk about where I am or where I should be or where I once was because it misses the point entirely. 

The point is that our bodies are miracles--plain and simple. They weren't given to us for the purpose of looking "hot" or "sexy." Their primary purpose isn't to be a certain weight or size. Our body's purpose is to house our spirit, to give us experiences and lessons that require a physical body. They are to help us learn patience and self-mastery. 

I want my daughters to be healthy and happy and I want them to understand that health and happiness aren't related at all to being skinny. There are healthy and happy people all along the weight spectrum and there are sickly and miserable people in every area as well.

What makes a person healthy? Eating well and being active, certainly, although doctors will attest that even those things don't assure a certain size or build. 

But what makes a person happy? That's a whole other thing.

Happiness comes from having a purpose, from thinking of others, from being comfortable with who you are. It comes from creativity and reaching goals. It comes from unselfish service and a knowledge that we have a Heavenly Father and a Savior who love us, whether we're thin or not, whether we have flawless skin or not, whether we're considered beautiful or not. 

J.K. Rowling got it right when she said, speaking of her daughters, "I don't want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I'd rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before 'thin'. "

It isn't easy to keep a clear perspective in this superficial, media-driven world, but this I know. When my children (daughters AND sons) remember what I taught them, I hope they remember that I taught them to use their minds and their hearts, to love and serve others and to recognize that they're worthy of the love and respect of others. I hope they remember that I taught them to create good things, to love themselves like I love them and to be kind and patient with themselves and others. I want them to recognize the beauty in the souls around them, not just the beauty in the bodies around them.


Torrie said...

Lovely thoughts. Definitely a difficult subject (and I myself have struggled with finding a happy medium as well). When I find myself becoming too obsessed with what I look like, I know that I have distanced myself from the things that truly matter: family, friends, and learning and living the gospel to the fullest.

Shanda said...

Excellent and so true. I'm going to have my girls read this post. I've never been "thin" and it wasn't until my mid-twenties when I realized how much that didn't matter in regard to my worth. Thank you!

John said...


Tapper said...

Thank you for this post! I could not fit everything I wanted to say into one comment so I linked to you and responded here:

Phogles said...

Oh, thank you so much! My mother raised seven daughters, and I am raising five. This is a thing that is dear to my heart. I fight it in my own head, and I strive to help my girls (and boys!) know the truth about beauty and worth.

Teri Harman said...

Beautiful, honest post! I have two daughters and a son. I want them all to obsess about living their passions and not how they look. It's a problem we all fight and I think it's about balance and understanding your own body. It's important to be healthy and take care of yourself. It's not important to be a certain dress size or body shape.
Thanks, Karey!

Anonymous said...

thank you for expressing so well the thoughts that so many of us have felt about this issue.
We are all unique and we are all beautiful because we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father.

Great comments by your readers as well.

missy said...

Well said!