Celebrating Inner Beauty
About the Guest
Why do young women often consider themselves less attractive than they really are? On today's broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Gresh, authors of the book Lies Young Women Believe, about the lies young women believe about personal beauty.
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Why do young women often consider themselves less attractive than they really are?
Bob: If you have a teenage daughter, and you tell her that she looks beautiful, are you going to help her feel confident and secure, or will she wind up placing too much emphasis in her own mind about her appearance? Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Nancy: There's no sin in being beautiful. There are places where the Scripture talks about God appreciating our beauty.
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There's nothing wrong with having beauty and with affirming that, but you want to place the emphasis on affirming the true beauty, the truest beauty, the unfading beauty of the heart.
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Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, April 17th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. What are some of the lies your daughter may be believing about her own appearance, and what's the truth that she needs to set her free? We'll talk about that today. Stay with us.
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And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. You were reading through a portion of Isaiah a number of years ago, and I remember you locked in on a few verses in Isaiah 59.
Bob: You know what I'm talking about, don't you?
Dennis: I do. The Prophet Isaiah, I think, was describing our day. He talked about people kind of groaning and moaning, going about like doves or growling like a bear, wishing and wanting someone to step forward with the truth, and the reason there was such a description of hopelessness and despair was over beginning in verse 14 it says, "Justice is turned back, righteousness stands afar off, for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey."
You know, the picture is that truth has fallen flat on its face in the street and as a result is not like a yardstick by which you could measure your life. You can't compare your behavior and your choices against something you can count on to give you an absolute standard of measurement. And as a result of that, there was despair.
And I think that same thing is taking place today.
Bob: Well, we live in a day when truth is being challenged in public school classrooms and on college campuses, even in some of our church settings.
Dennis: There are some seminaries today who would not embrace absolute truth but, fortunately, we are here today to help equip moms and dads to raise the next generation of young ladies, primarily, that's what we're targeting here today because we have the co-authors of "Lies Young Women Believe," and basically this is a book that's written by a pair of friends of ours who are wanting to help parents know how to bring the truth to bear in a generation of young people who are being ensnared in lies by media, by movies, music, magazines, books, all kinds of stuff. It's just a really deadly culture that we live in here. Dannah Gresh and Nancy Leigh DeMoss join us again. Ladies, welcome back.
Dannah: Thank you.
Nancy: It's a privilege.
Dennis: Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a good friend; goes way back. She's a host of the daily radio program, "Revive our Hearts," a speaker, author of a number of books, a great friend. And Dannah Gresh has also become a great friend, a kindred spirit, likes to pound the table about some of the same things Bob and I do. She and her husband, Bob, have three teenagers right now; lives in State College, Pennsylvania. I failed to mention, of course, that Nancy is from Pennsylvania as well.
Bob: That's right, and I also was thinking, I get to go downstairs sometimes here in our offices and just sneak in while Nancy is teaching for "Revive our Hearts"; get to listen to some of those broadcasts before they become broadcasts, and that's one of the treats that we have here.
Dennis: No doubt about it. You ladies have put together this book because you're passionate about the next generation of young people. Dannah, you work with these young ladies, in fact, you surveyed over 1,000 teenage young women. What should parents know about what's happening today to their daughters that ought to reach through the radio and get their attention?
Dannah: My mind immediately goes to when we surveyed 400 girls at an event in New York City, and we simply asked them, "Write a definition of truth." My heart wanted so badly for most of these Christian young women, to write the name Jesus Christ right then and there. One out of 400 young women did – one.
That their immediate thought when you ask them to define truth isn't "Jesus Christ is the truth" broke my heart, and it should frighten parents that we haven't passed that truth on to them.
Bob: Did they see God's Word is truth, or were they just trying to write it in clinical terms?
Dannah: They were just – most of the definitions were "truth is not a lie, it's absence of lies."
Bob: They were stumbling in the streets for their definition.
Dannah: And because they're stumbling in the streets, and they don't have the standard or original to conform their life to of Jesus Christ, they are depressed, they're struggling with eating disorders, they're struggling with sexual addictions, they're broken.
Bob: Now, I have to ask you, because we've talked about things like depression and eating disorders being tied to a lie, and yet in the culture today people are saying, "Well, no, those are medical conditions. Where do you see a lie connection with something like an eating disorder?"
Dannah: Well, the Scripture says, "As a man thinks in his heart so is he." And the things we think, the things we dwell on, ultimately are the things we believe, and the things we believe ultimately determine how we act. And so if there are sinful patterns or behaviors in our lives that are unhealthy, unwholesome, they can be traced back to the way that we think. If we believe something that is not true, we are going to soon be acting in ways that are not biblical; that are contrary to God's Word, and those patterns become habits, become areas of bondage in our lives.
If we believe what is true, if we really believe it not just give intellectual assent to it, ultimately, that truth will shape the way that we act and will produce habits and patterns in our lives that are pleasing to the Lord.
Bob: So let's say there's a teenage girl who is either binging and purging, or she's just not eating enough – what's behind that in terms of a lie that she may have bought into or believed that is causing her not to take care of her own body?
Dannah: Right away, my mind goes to two young women that we tracked their stories for this book. One young woman, we'll call her Kelly, struggling with an eating disorder as a college student, starving herself, not eating at all.
She got medical intervention, she got her family involved, and psychological counseling from a Christian psychologist and eventually that psychologist said, "You are choosing to believe things about yourself that are not true."
She began to study the Scriptures, she posted Bible verses about her beauty and her value everywhere she could see them, and within a very short time she began to overcome that disorder.
Bob: So she was not eating because she was believing what kinds of things about herself?
Dannah: "I’m fat," and this is a very slim young woman, extremely tall, extremely slim, extremely beautiful.
Bob: But why is she believing that if she can look in the mirror or step on a scale and disprove that?
Nancy: Well, but it's not quite that easy when the cover of every magazine has an anorexic young woman on it who is the "standard" of beauty. And we've heard this over and over and over again. We asked a group of young women last night what lies they had been believing. The first girl raised her hand and said, "I'm ugly. I'm fat," and then we asked "How many of you have believed this lie?"
And here is a room full of darling young women all raising their hands. "I've believed this lie," and the statistic, Dannah, about the 12-year-old being underweight and yet so many of them …
Dannah: Two-thirds of 12-year-olds who are underweight consider themselves fat.
Dennis: So what's the lie – that beautiful girls are more valuable, have more intrinsic worth, are more popular than those who aren't?"
Nancy: More attractive to guys.
Bob: And the culture, then, defines beauty as being skinny, and so you believe that, and you say, "Then I must not eat because I must be this person."
Dannah: Right. And moms say, "Well, I struggled with that when I was a teenager in the '80s, in the '70s." Well, when you were a teenager in the '80s or '70s, models were 8 percent thinner than the average woman. Today they are 23 percent thinner than the average woman. That's an enormous difference.
So these young women have a standard that's much further from truth than we had.
Bob: And you said there were two young women that you were paying attention to through this book, and one of them was getting help and ultimately said, "I've got to reprogram how I'm thinking," that was the counsel she received. What about the other …
Dannah: Mm-hm, and she began to study Scripture, and she's been, for three years now, walking free of that eating disorder.
The other young woman, same thing – struggling as a high school student, starving herself, doing a little bit of binging and purging but mostly starving herself, sought medical help, psychological help, all of those things but refused to study God's Word.
Now, it's been 10 years that we've been tracking this particular story. She is still struggling in a deathly sense at this point with that eating disorder.
Dennis: We did a broadcast a number of years ago, Nancy, you may recall this, where we talked about beauty. And I compared beauty being a stumbling block for women like lust is for men. I know women who can't walk by a mirror because to look in the mirror is to see "How am I doing?"
Nancy: Ask Dannah about the mirror.
Dennis: Yeah, how do I look like because, Dannah, you had a real struggle with mirrors for more than a decade?
Dannah: Well, I didn't look in the mirror. I did the opposite, which is what these young women will do. They'll either become overly infatuated with their physical appearance, or they'll detest it. There isn't any middle ground of God created something good. It's either, "Oh, this is hideous. What did God do? He made such a horrible mistake," or "I am so hot."
Bob: Now, hang on, what do you mean you didn't look in a mirror for 10 years?
Dannah: I didn't look in a mirror from middle school until college.
Bob: Did you have a mirror in your room?
Dennis: But you didn't look in it?
Dennis: How did you put the makeup on, come on, tell the truth.
Dannah: Without looking, in the dark. I can still do my mascara without looking in a mirror.
Bob: So out of the corner of your eye did you see yourself in the mirror, or are you just saying, "I wouldn't consciously, deliberately, look at myself."
Dannah: Occasionally I would see myself out of the corner of my eye, and those were bad days.
Bob: Why? What did you think?
Dannah: I just was depressed. I would cry, I would feel just worthless. It was beyond beauty, it was beyond physical things. It was about worth – because I don't look like the cover of a magazine, I have no worth.
Bob: Dannah, it's interesting. I read an article a number of years ago where these supermodels were being asked about their own beauty, and every one of them saw themselves as flawed and saw all their imperfections.
Now, you are both lovely ladies. How could you look in a mirror and think, "I'm ugly." I mean, I'm just trying to understand that from an objective standpoint that lovely young women are looking in mirrors going, "I'm ugly." How do you get there?
Dannah: Well, Nancy, wouldn't you say every woman listening right now doesn't need the help that Bob needs to understand.
Dennis: And the reason is …
Nancy: We get it.
Dennis: Yeah, the reason is we are different – male and female, He created them, and each of us have different points that we stumble over.
Bob: Well, and it's not like I look in a mirror and go, "Boy, are you a handsome fellow," but I don't look in a mirror and go – get depressed for the rest of the day.
Nancy: Right. Of course, one of the dangers, too, is that women are fueling this sense of where they get their worth by what they're reading, what they're looking at, and then knowing that men are visually attracted and wired, saying, "If I'm going to have the attention of men," which taps into this whole other area of lies, and that is what it takes to be attractive and to be worthwhile in terms of getting a man, that and beauty are hard to separate.
And so they know that about men, and then they are looking in the teen magazines. We asked the young women last night, "How many of you read these teen magazines?" And, again, a majority of the hands, and they're looking at these airbrushed, PhotoShopped pictures of women who don't exist and saying, "That's what it takes."
Dennis: Yeah, "That's what I want to look like."
Bob: You may have seen – this got passed around on the Internet a number of years ago, and we may – I think we've got a link to it on our website at FamilyLife.com, but the Dove soap people took a woman, an average-looking woman, and in time-lapse photography took her from average-looking to …
Nancy: Less than average, I might say.
Bob: Took her to spectacular through makeup and hair and the time and airbrushing and getting it all perfect, and part of what they were trying to say to young women is that …
Dennis: It doesn't exist.
Bob: Yeah, the standard of beauty that you're aspiring for can't be accomplished outside of computers making it happen.
Dennis: All right, let's turn you ladies into instructors of moms and dads, and I'm thinking primarily moms. Dannah, what does a mom need to do – her daughter either ignores the mirror or spends too much time in front of it. Where does she start?
Dannah: Well, I think she starts with the same advice that we give the young women in the books, which is God's Word says that our beauty shouldn't come from our great haircut and our gold jewelry and our fine clothes – it doesn't say it quite like that, that's the Dannah paraphrase, but it should come from that – an inner beauty, a gentle and quiet spirit.
And so the test that we give these young women to take every day, right out of "Lies Young Women Believe," is to ask themselves this simple question – did I spend more time today in front of the mirror working on my external beauty or did I spend more time in God's Word making myself beautiful inside?"
When you get that figured out, you'll get the beauty thing figured out. And if moms figure that out for themselves and stop walking around the house and saying, "Oh, I'm so fat, I need to work out, I need to lose a few pounds," which is, when the teenage girls hear that, and they see their mom saying that, they use that to fuel their own lies.
Mom has to figure it out first and then to give her tools like this book where the daughter herself can dig into God's Word.
Dennis: Okay, I've got a question. I've found myself thinking this because of this new understanding that you all have helped me come to all the way back to Nancy's broadcast a few years ago where we were talking about beauty and how this causes women to stumble. Should we, as men, be careful about complimenting our daughters and their beauty? I mean, I have found myself thinking at times, "Don't go overboard," you know? Express appreciation for how beautiful your daughter is but maybe have a little additional disclaimer at the end or something that says, "But you know what really makes you beautiful? It's the choices you're making with your life."
Either one of you want to comment on that, because I feel that tension, as a man, and certainly as a father.
Nancy: You know, again, if we go to the Scripture, there are many places where the Scripture talks about God appreciating our beauty, and I'm thinking about Psalm 45, which I shared with these young women last night where it says that the King, speaking of Christ our heavenly bridegroom, He will desire your beauty.
So there is nothing wrong with having beauty and with affirming that, but you want to place the emphasis on affirming the true beauty, the truest beauty, the unfading beauty, of the heart. There's no sin in being beautiful, but it's fleeting, it's fading, and any woman who is older than a teenager knows that it's not going to last, but the beauty that grows more radiant, more precious, and is wonderful in God's sight is that inner beauty.
So, for men – for dads and husbands – I had a woman come to me last night, a mom of one of these teenage girls with tears in her eyes. She had been sitting listening to this teen session, and she said, "My husband, all he cares about is my physical appearance," and with tears she said, "I wish he would care about my heart."
Now, she was crying out and there are obviously other issues in that relationship, but I think as women for us to know that there are qualities that resemble Christ. Those are the things that if the emphasis is placed on those for us, it will help us emphasize those things ourselves.
Dennis: It's not often here on the broadcast that I ask the question and then answer my own question, too. But your answer was excellent.
But I was reminded by a husband who did this in Proverbs, chapter 31, and this is a husband who says, "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty if vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands and let her works praise her in the gates."
There's a man who had the balance.
Nancy: He knows what really matters.
Dennis: Yeah, and when you praise a woman in her character, you are feeding and fueling that which ultimately needs to grow because beauty – beauty really is fleeting. I mean, the movie stars are losing it, no matter how much plastic surgery they're paying for.
Bob: Well, and, you know, you think to yourself, if I were to say to my daughter or to my wife, "You know, what really matters is your inner beauty," there is going to be a part of her going …
Nancy: But what really matters – what I want to know is what you …
Bob: How am I looking? And I think what you need to remind her of is you look great, but let's both remember what really matters is your inner beauty, and I know you're thinking, "How am I looking?" That's fine. That's not inconsequential, that shouldn't be neglected, but let's keep reminding ourselves, let's both keep reminding ourselves what really matters is what's inside.
There's a word that I think is a great word when you want to describe how somebody looks – to just say "You look radiant." What a great word, because I've met people who would not be beautiful by the world's standards, who are just radiant people, and I am drawn to them by the spiritual glow of their lives.
Nancy: And, conversely, you have some women who have very striking, stunning physical features, but if there's not a joyful spirit, if there's not a grateful spirit, they are unattractive.
Bob: We really do have to reprogram our thinking as individuals and as a culture about what matters here, and that's where you're pointing teenage girls and their moms and saying, "Let's think rightly about what God says is important."
Dennis: I have two things to say about that, Bob, "You're exactly right," and I'm going to say it to Barbara tonight.
Bob: I thought you were going to say that I looked radiant. That's what I was hoping for.
I think the point that we're trying to make here is there is a biblical way of looking at things that ought to be how we train our minds, and there is a cultural way of looking at things that we ought to be alert to and aware of and on guard against, because the cultural way of looking at things will drag us in the wrong direction, the biblical way of looking at things will drag us in the right direction, and that's the premise behind the book that the two of you have written, which is called "Lies Young Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free."
We have the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and our listeners can get more information by going to our website at FamilyLife.com, and when they get to the home page, on the right side of the home page, there's a box that says "Today's Broadcast." If you click that box, it will take you to the area of the site where there is a transcript of today's program, you can listen to it again online, if you'd like to, you can leave comments about today's program, and you can get more information about the book by Nancy and Dannah called "Lies Young Women Believe." You can order it online, if you'd like or, if it's easier, you can call 1-800-FLTODAY and order this book over the phone.
We've also listed some additional resources that we think would be helpful for both parents of teenage girls and for the teenage girls themselves. Again, all of that information is on the website, FamilyLife.com. Click the box on the right side of the screen that says "Today's Broadcast," and you'll find the resources we're talking about, or call us at 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team can let you know how you can have the resources you need sent out to you.
You know, it's always fun for me to meet folks who are just finding out about FamilyLife Today, or they've just started listening regularly to our program, and we had those listeners in mind this week, Dennis, when we decided to make available a two-CD set that features a conversation we had a number of months ago with Dr. Emerson Eggerich, the author of the book, "Love and Respect."
We talked with Dr. Eggerich for more than two hours about marriage and about the important principles of loving and respecting one another in a marriage relationship, and we thought we ought to make those two CDs available to our listeners at no cost to them, especially for those who are new to FamilyLife and want to find out more about our ministry and what we're all about.
So this week you're invited to call 1-800-FLTODAY and simply request the "Love and Respect" CDS. We're happy to send them out to you. We hope you'll listen to them. I hope you'll find them helpful, and we hope you'll pass them along to someone else to listen to. At FamilyLife, we are committed to seeing every home become a godly home, and so we want to help strengthen your marriage and your family, and we want you to help us spread the word.
Again, you can call 1-800-FLTODAY, and simply request a copy of the "Love and Respect" CDs. We're happy to send them out to you at no cost to you this week when you call us at 1-800-FLTODAY.
Now, tomorrow we're going to continue our conversation with Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Gresh, and we want to talk about what we do as parents to help our teenagers withstand the constant tug of the culture and of their own peer group, their Christian friends who are pulling them away from the biblical standards that we're trying to uphold with them. We'll talk about that tomorrow. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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