When Being Beautiful Turns Ugly

Our daughter has always been our little princess. As a little girl, she loved hats and dresses and those annoying feather boas that shed all over the carpet. It was cute. Harmless. But for many young women, this desire to be pretty can turn obsessive–destructive. How can we, as parents, help our teens accept themselves as God made them, and does our media make this harder? Today multi-published author Linore Rose Burkard challenges us to engage our teens in this battle for beauty.

Linore is also giving away a copy of one of her books–winners choice. I will randomly select the winner from those commenting on this post. (Visit her website to check out all her novels.)

Note: the winner of the last give-away is listed below.

When Being Beautiful Turns Ugly

by Linore Rose Burkard

Note: This is something I wrote a few years ago for a column called “Media and the Home.” It was a standing feature of Dionna Sanchez’s blog, “Inner Fulfillment.”  I still have three young women beneath my roof, one of whom is only nine. The topic here is just as relevant today as it was then, and not just for my family but for any parent of a girl.

When Being Beautiful Turns Ugly
Parents today are concerned about media influences on their kids, and with good cause. Suicide is the second-highest cause of death among teenagers in the US—after car accidents. Why are so many young people killing themselves?
The answers are complex, and stem from the breakdown of the family, legalized abortion (which devalues human life), the loss of faith in society as a whole (if there’s no God, how does life have meaning or purpose?) and, finally, an unrealistic sense of failure to measure up.
Measure up to what?
All too often, the media’s idea of how and what they should be. And nowhere is this insidious idea more powerful to young psyches than in the area of appearance. Teens are hard on each other, but not nearly as hard as they can be on themselves, especially when they compare themselves to photo-shopped images. Beauty gets ugly really fast when it takes on visions of perfection that are simply unattainable.
Young women are particularly vulnerable to the society-fueled obsession with weight and appearance, as they are constantly bombarded with images of hyped-up beauty. From Britney to Sleeping Beauty to Barbie, women are supposed to be slim and flawless. School teachers report that girls as young as nine and ten can be heard worrying about over-eating and being on diets. Meanwhile, at the same time, there is so much computer and video game usage today that staying in healthy shape is a greater challenge for today’s kids than ever before.
As a parent, I struggle to find ways to affirm my girls’ attractiveness—just the way they are—when there is so much out there telling them a different message. At age ten, my middle daughter is now saying to me (when I tell her how beautiful she is), “You only think that because you’re my mother!” Or, “You’re supposed to say that because I’m your daughter.” She is already internalizing society’s message that being “beautiful” is directly correlated to how sexy you are, and what brand or type of clothing you wear. She might not put it that way, but this is what it comes down to.
Where is she getting these ideas?
They are seeping in from all sides! We have a protected environment in our home—to a degree. (No TV, just selected videos and DVDs) but as I mentioned earlier, even Barbie is picture-perfect and skinnier than Twiggy.
On an up note, Dove (the beauty products manufacturer) has produced a video showing the transformation of an ordinary girl (read: could be your daughter. Could be you!) into a super-glamorous billboard model. I had both my daughters view this and my ten-year-old was shocked. It’s an eye-opening message we need to get out.



I suggest you view this with your daughters–and your sons(Guys can get unrealistic expectations, too). After viewing the video, make it a point to pick up magazines that show stars “as they really are”. Celebrities hate this, but it’s a shot in the arm for girls who are struggling with self-image or self-worth issues (and what girls do not?). Finally, remember to affirm that God has created them specially (they’re not an accident); He has a personal plan for their life (purpose); and they ARE beautiful—truly beautiful–in Christ, just the way they are.


Once you watch the video let me know what you think. Do you have an effective method for instilling your girls with a confidence that doesn’t come solely from what they see in the mirror? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Warmest Blessings,


Linore Rose Burkard writes Historical Romance to Warm the Soul. She delights in bringing the Regency to life for readers through adventurous, romantic tales. Ms. Burkard’s novels include the award winners Before the Season Ends, The House in Grosvenor Square, and, The Country House Courtship.  When not writing novels, Ms. Burkard conducts workshops for writers with  Greater Harvest Workshops, and writes e-newsletters for 2200 historical romance fans.  Raised in New York where she graduated from CUNY with a magna cum laude degree in English Literature, Linore now lives in Ohio with her husband, five children, a Shorkie and two cats.

Linore’s novel, Before the Season Ends:

In her debut novel of what she calls “spirited romance for the Jane Austen soul,” author Linore Rose Burkard tells the intriguing story of Miss Ariana Forsythe, a young woman caught between her love for a man who doesn’t share her faith and her resolution to marry only a fellow believer in Christ.

Trouble at home sends the young woman to her aunt’s townhome in the fashionable Mayfair district of London. There she finds worse troubles than those that prompted her flight from home. Ariana is soon neck–deep in high society and at odds with Mr. Phillip Mornay, London’s current darling rogue. Then a scandal changes Ariana forever. Her heart, her faith, and her future are all at stake in an unexpected adventure that gains even the Prince Regent’s attention.

Will Ariana’s faith survive this test? And what about her heart? For it’s Ariana’s heart that most threatens to betray the truths she has always believed in. When she finds herself backed against a wall, betrothed to the wrong young man, how can it ever turn out right?

Jane Austen readers and fans of Regency romances everywhere will love Before the Season Ends.

The winner of Susan Sleeman’s Deadly Exposure is Connie Ruggles. Congrats, Connie! I’ll be sending you an email shortly to get your mailing address.

Let’s talk about this. I love Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

As parents, how can we put this verse into action? How can we encourage our teens to have transformed, counter-culture thinking? Join us at Living by Grace today as we talk about engaging our teens in order to help center them on Christ and His will.

And make sure to come back to Living By Grace Friday and Saturday for a continuation of our in-depth look at the book of James.


  1. I’m very fortunate that my daughter has never hated the way she looks. She has such a sweet face that matches her personality.

    How someone looks has never been a big issue in our family. We tend to focus more on the whole person. Growing good people, as it were.

  2. I agree with Jennifer, Mary. It’s wonderful that your family has evaded the “appearance trap.” I’m guessing that you are not uptight about your own appearance (ie., that you accept yourself) and that your family “caught” this attitude. I applaud you! Thanks for sharing.

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