Photo: another sergio on Flickr

I was reading an article the other day about Wal-Mart introducing a new makeup and personal care line for tweens. Yes, tweens. Wal-Mart is bringing in a new line of cosmetics for the 8-12 year old girls of the world.

Last I checked, 8 year old girls were very much little girls… without blemish and with perfectly beautiful features. And last I checked, 12 year old girls should be considering nothing more than a little lip gloss and a hair clip to accessorize in order to express themselves if they so choose. What are we doing to our little girls that we are making them feel like they should be trying to alter the way they look?

WHAT ARE WE DOING TO OUR LITTLE GIRLS?!

I had a conversation with Miss Mack this morning about her belly. Miss Mack is 10 years old – almost 11 – and she told me of two of her other 10 year old girlfriends who sat around comparing their beautiful 10 year old bellies stating how fat they are. She told me a little of how that made her feel.

Again I say it: WHAT ARE WE DOING TO THESE LITTLE GIRLS?!

Why are these little girls contemplating their bellies at all? Why should they need makeup!? Have you ever seen a little girl sit around and talk about her elbows with concern? How about her neck? I’ve written before about my own body issues and how I’m slowly – in my thirties, I’ll add – learning to love my body despite its imperfections. And when I say imperfect I do, in fact, mean downright un-pretty by today’s Hollywood standards. While I am learning to appreciate that my body is just one of the billions of prototypes out there, I’ll admit I sometimes feel like a 10 year old girl on the school ground sitting alongside her little friends comparing their bellies and feeling like there is something drastically wrong with me.

I have a confession to make:

I had an appointment scheduled for December 8th, 2010. I had an appointment to visit one of the top plastic surgeons in Vancouver. I had an appointment to hand over an obscene amount of money to have him slice me from one side to the other, pull all of my skin away from my muscles from my hips to my armpits, suck out fat, cut out skin, lift up my boobs, throw in a little volume and sew me back together so I could recover for two months, all in the name of vanity.

You see, after two babies my body is not perfect. My post-baby body doesn’t look like Heidi Klum’s post-baby body. In fact, my pre-baby body was a ways off of hers if I’m being honest. My post-baby body doesn’t bear the breasts of a 20 year old and my post-baby belly bears the scar of not just one, but two surgical births. And I felt an overwhelming fear when I thought about ever being in a position to share my body’s battle wounds with any man other than the one who helped me create those wounds.

But then I met Miss Mack.

She is beautiful. She is tall and strong and has awesome skin, beautiful eyes and lovely thick hair. She is smart and funny and polite and helpful and curious and adventuresome. And she loves God. How can I sit face to face with her and look into those beautiful 10 year old eyes and tell her how her body is perfect, that she was created in the image of God and that she is absolutely beautiful just the way she is but then go to ridiculous lengths to alter my own appearance? How could I justify it?

I couldn’t. And I can’t. And I won’t. I remember being 10. I remember being teased.

Why are we telling our children there is something wrong with them? What are we doing to our little girls? Why are we allowing TV and fashion mags and the entertainment industry as a whole to determine not just the standard of beauty but our worth?

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
[Psalm 139]

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
[Genesis 1:27]

So to Miss Mack and every other girl on earth who has ever felt like less than everything she was made to be: You are beautiful. You are just as you were created to be. You were intricately woven… knitted together. We can do what we can do to protect our bodies from ill-health, but what we call imperfections are not imperfections at all! The are simply attributes that make us different from one another. You are one in several billion. You are the only one of you. You are just right. You are unique. You were formed in the image of God. Your worth is not determined by the clarity of your skin, the firmness of your stomach or the colour of your hair. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

You are loved. Just as you are.