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Ode to Feminine Genius: Discovering Her Feminine Beauty

10628607_10152640958795540_2185798387826798527_nThis is the ninth installment in the series of Ode to Feminine Genius: Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman. Today’s topic will cover A Beautiful Woman.

A few months ago, my oldest daughter turned thirteen. Having my firstborn become our first teenager seemed almost anticlimactic; an especially precocious child, Honor has always seemed far older than she is. On paper, she’s in the 7th grade, but most of her homeschooling is from high school and college textbooks. Her height (5’5″), poise, and ability to hold conversations on complex social and political subjects tend to lead most who meet her to assume she’s in her late teens. They’re usually stunned to find out that she’s just starting that journey.

Eyebrow threading sounds less painful than waxing...but isn

Eyebrow threading sounds less painful than waxing…but isn’t.

But being so emotionally mature can have its drawbacks. Last year, our youth group leader was so impressed by Honor’s emotional maturity that she skipped her into the high school group. And while Honor could handle the discussions on gay marriage and contraception (we’d had them years ago, when she’d asked about them), she wasn’t as prepared for the social dynamics of being among teenage girls. She stopped being excited about youth group, and began finding reasons to avoid it. When I pressed her, she would complain vaguely about how she “didn’t like” a lot of the kids in the group.

Show of hands--how many of us wish we

Show of hands–how many of us wish we’d had someone teach us how to put on makeup??

I talked privately to the youth group leader, who immediately knew what the problem was. “This is an age when girls are starting to discover their own feminine beauty,” she said. “They’re going from jeans and T-shirts and ponytails to caring more about their appearance. They’re starting to use makeup, fix their hair, and wearing trendier clothes.” The leader said that when our daughter would walk into the youth group meetings, she’d watched her visibly shrink into herself; she clearly felt dowdy and downright provincial compared to her female peers.

Then she said something profound.  “Your daughter is smart and everyone knows that about her. But she needs to feel beautiful, too. Every pretty girl wants to be told she’s smart and every smart girl wants to be told she’s beautiful.” She advised me to take my daughter out and actively guide her into discovering her own feminine beauty. “Don’t let the culture teach her what’s beautiful; YOU show her how to feel confident and beautiful as a young lady.”

So that’s what I did.

About two months later, my daughter and I drove six hours to the “big city” of Anchorage. While there, we spent three hectic days transforming her from an athletic tomboy to a young lady. We had her eyebrows shaped. I hired a professional makeup artist to teach her how to apply cosmetics–complete with a lesson in the difference between classy and trashy makeup. We had her hair styled at a salon. We also updated her wardrobe at the mall with a few modest yet fashionable outfits. Our last stop was Nordstrom, where she picked out a lovely formal dress to wear to a Right to Life banquet with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar as keynote speakers.

The hairdresser made her promise never to change her auburn hair color.

The hairdresser made her promise never to change her auburn hair color.

The effect on my daughter was incredible. She kept staring at herself in the mirror after we had her eyebrows shaped. “Mom, it’s like my eyes have frames now!” She smiled continuously and kept telling me how happy she was that I had planned the trip for her. We had a great time at all her “treatments,” not to mention the banquet, where both of us were giddy about seeing the Duggars in person.

There were big changes at home, too. In the two weeks since the trip, she’s requested to go back to youth group again. She put on a new outfit and a little makeup and confidently walked into the group. When I picked her up, she’d had a great time talking about her love for Jesus and was looking forward to next time. She’s joined SeaScouts, too, a marine-based scouting group for teenagers. And it doesn’t bother her that she’s the only female among six teenage boys.

She’s smiling and laughing and holding her head up again when she’s around her peers. She’s always known she’s smart, but now she’s found her inner beauty, too. And that’s given her the ability to go into social situations with confidence. She confessed to an ironic outcome: now, she can better concentrate on the relationships and the discussions, because she’s NOT focusing on her anxiety about her appearance. She said: “Now, I don’t think about how I look at all, Mom.”

That trip was worth every penny.

En route to see the Duggars!

En route to see the Duggars!

My daughter knows that her physical beauty is meaningless if it’s not reflective of the goodness in her soul. She’s still mostly a sweats-and-T-shirt girl at home. But now she understands that God gave her more than just a vivacious mind; He gave her a genuine feminine loveliness that she can righteously adorn for righteous purposes. We would never fault a bride for wanting to feel beautiful on her wedding day–and aren’t we all the Bride of Christ every day of our lives?

The reality is that if we don’t guide our daughters through discovering and adorning their feminine beauty, the culture will teach them to profane it. What are YOUR ideas, dear sisters in Christ, for helping our precious daughters to recognize and foster their feminine beauty?

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About Misty

Misty converted to Catholicism from atheism 13 years ago, just a week after becoming a mother to her first child. Prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom, she worked full-time as a magazine writer and editor. She has been married to her best friend for nearly 20 years and looks forward to many more decades by his side. Her days are now spent cooking, doing laundry, freelance writing, and homeschooling her five children. After spending so much of her life in spiritual darkness, she revels in the joy of being Catholic. Without a doubt, the Lord’s greatest gift to her has been saving her from a life without Him.

  • Katie - I love that you shared this part of your daughter’s journey. I think it is very special that you lead the way in helping her feel beautiful on the inside as well as the outside in a modest way. So often in our culture girls are left to their own devices and fall short of God honoring fashion and beauty. It makes me smile that she thinks less about what she looks like now than she did before. My oldest daughter is 10.5 and I look forward to doing the same with her. God Bless!February 19, 2015 – 1:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Misty - Thanks, Katie! It was very special. I was happy to see that she gravitated to the modest clothes, despite the majority of “juniors” clothes being strapless and mid-thigh. She’s our oldest and we have 3 more girls coming up behind her in a few years. So I’ll be taking this trip at least a few more times! February 19, 2015 – 8:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Nicole Z. - Awesome! I have three daughters and I plan to do the exact same thing with them. If we don’t teach them about these things, the culture will fill in the gap for us. No way!February 20, 2015 – 6:45 amReplyCancel

  • Liz - Hi Misty,

    Thanks for the article about outward and inward beauty. I am very conflicted on the topic of beauty, since I have a deeply-lodged fear of superficiality. I want my daughter to feel beautiful, and it alarms me that all of the concern about makeup and trendy clothes now seems to start at about age (9)! To my mind, this is way way too early. But if my daughter does not get her hair twisted, fixed, and permed by that age, she may, as you remark, begin to feel she is lagging behind her peers. Certainly we don’t want the culture to define our daughters beauty, but neither do we want our daughters to become obsessed with makeup at a young age. I attended a non-traditional school, and any emphasis on outward appearance was shunned as being hollow and devoid of spiritual value. Of course, that attitude is also extreme and contains error. How do we help our sons and daughters develop positive self image without building up an external “face” that they feel they have to construct for their peers?February 24, 2015 – 12:00 pmReplyCancel

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