What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.” 1 Peter 3:3-6
I recently read an article posted by a friend about bringing pretty back. This article, along with songs like Justin Timberlake’s “Bringing Sexy Back”, have caused me to ponder this whole idea for a while and I have come to some conclusions.
When I was a teenaged girl, it was about being pretty. Pretty had a certain girl-next-door look to it. Pretty had a certain charm to it. At some point between then and now pretty has given way to being “hot”. That term makes my skin crawl. Hot is a commodity. (Hence the phrase, “hot commodity”) It’s something in demand. Something that can be bought, sold, or traded for.
Hot and Pretty are not interchangeable. It’s not just a matter of semantics or new hip language; it’s a whole shift in our culture. Pretty was more than how a girl looked. Pretty held an air of innocence and purity. Pretty wasn’t just skin deep. By contrast, hot is strictly an outside kind of thing. While it can be an attitude, it is an outward appearance that often belies what’s really inside.
I ran all this by my eighteen-year-old son. He said he was uncomfortable with the word hot. He said he could not imagine himself using that word to describe a girl. This brought a smile to my face. As my two older boys became teenagers, each in turn, endured the lectures on how girls are not merchandise. In other words, females are not hot commodities and are to be described in much more respectful terms. Perhaps the lectures took hold. I got a similar response from his younger brother. (Good boys, they are.)
As my fourteen-year-old daughter makes and then remakes (almost weekly) her own style, I want her to turn away from the cultural tendency to desire the kind of attention that being hot would bring. We often have conversations about wardrobe and modesty, but I don’t want her to think that modesty means wearing oversized sweatshirts or shapeless burlap bags for clothing. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional oversized sweatshirt (I cannot, however, think of an appropriate function for a burlap bag), but it shouldn’t be the main staple of her wardrobe. To flee from society’s desire for girls to be hot doesn’t mean they have to bypass pretty to make their way to homely.
Pretty knows how to pull off a style that is both alluring and attractive without being sleazy or suggestive. Pretty knows how to accentuate the positive without putting it all on display for public consumption. Pretty understands grace and charm, intelligence and character. Pretty has much less to do with her dress size and more to do with the size of her heart. Pretty is the whole package, inside and out. And pretty is something to be prized, valued and cherished. Never bought, sold or traded for.
Let’s teach our girls how to be pretty again. It’s an art, really, and it’s a dying one, but we can revive it. Point out pretty when you see it. Give her real world examples. I know, that can be kind of hard, but look at Taylor Swift for example…and….
Okay so she’s the only one I can come up with on the fly here, but she’s a great picture of pretty. And I’m not talking about her face or her size. I’m talking about her countenance and the way she markets herself.
Our girls are sending the world a message in how they dress and conduct themselves. How are we helping them market themselves? What message are they sending the world about themselves and what they hold dear? Do they know what the message should be? Are we telling them?
This isn’t something we can just assume they will get on their own. They most likely will not, and the pressure to be hot is too great. Let’s help our girls bring pretty back.