Friday, April 1, 2011

Beauty Contests

This is not a medical post, but something really bothered me yesterday. Berate me if you want. Call me naive. Call me a bad mother. But several months ago I let my 12 year old daughter get her own Facebook page. I know her password. I keep track of her activity. If someone tags her in a photo, I am notified. In fact, this is what happened a few days ago. I noticed that a photo of my daughter was tagged on a profile with an obviously fictitious name, which was comprised of the name of her middle school and then the word smexys as the last name.
Smexy, according to my friend's 17 year old daughter and some who-knows-how-reputable websites such as and, means smart and sexy or possibly lip smackingly sexy.
So, I'm thinking smexy really should not be associated with middle school in any way. However, when I checked out the link, I found out the purpose of the profile. It consisted of dozens of different posts, each  containg two photos. Each photo was of a middle school kid, fully clothed, only one bikini pic, thank God, with various poses and expressions ranging in provacativity from a sunny smile while holding a puppy to the pouty duck lipped face of a girl in a low cut tank top. In the name of gender equality there was even a section for the young dudes of the school. First names of the kids are shown. In the captions the site's followers are invited to vote for who is the smexier of the two.
I think my daughter is gorgeous, the most beautiful, precious young woman on earth. The voters, not so much. She got three votes. The other girl got about a dozen. I know it is so, so  shallow, but this broke my heart. The typical middle school girl's spirit is delicate, easily crushed. They so desire to be loved and admired, especially by their peers. I could tell her all day long that she is beautiful, but a compliment or insult from a fellow student makes an exponentially larger impact. My sweet girl looks a little like I did when I was her age, tall and really skinny, huge eyes, long neck, big lips. But when you grow out of the gawky phase and into your features, these attributes become tall and slender, big eyes, graceful, swan like neck, full lips. Middle school kids can't see much past today though. They can't see the beauty and grace they will grow into.
More importantly, however, as this contest illustrates, they tend to not pay attention to anything past physical beauty. For example, I know my daughter loves animals, hates math, adores her baby brother, believes in a loving God, wants to be a famous author, and will bake a cake at 9 o clock at night just because she and I think some chocolate sounds yummy. I want to hope as these kids get older they will start to appreciate other aspects of their peers besides their looks. Will that happen? My daughter is a quiet, "good girl" at school. When you get to know her, the real giggly, silly, talkative nature emerges. But that involves actually taking the time to get to know her.
She didn't tell me about the Facebook profile. Typically she only keeps things to herself that bother her or that she is ashamed of. There is no shame in wanting to be considered attractive. I just pray that she eventually appreciates the other parts of her lovely self. Of course I do encourage her to take care of her physical body, exercise, eat something on occasion besides junk food, wash her face at night, we give each other manicures etc. That is just healthy and balanced. It is a lot, though, to expect middle school society to embrace inner beauty, unrealistic when I was there and unrealistic now as well. It is my job, however to nurture her spirit, her soul and to help her blossom into a beautiful person.
Now as a parent, often objectivity is out of the question. One can be too close to a situation to really see it clearly. Do I bring up this facebook profile in conversation? What do you think of these beauty contests, harmless or hurtful?


  1. So sad that kids don't see the real beauty in someone, and they don't recognize that the akward teenage years are not their destiny as adults.
    An example is I just saw Jerry O'Connell talking about the 25 yr anniversary of "Stand By Me", and he was the little fat kid back then.

    Although it made me think that this is a sad reflection on our society because many adults judge people on their looks.

  2. I can only reflect back on my own miserable life in middle school and how unattractive I felt, tall, skinny, and nerdy with glasses and short bushy hair. I didn't blossom into being accepting of myself until about 5 years ago and what I thought was too tall in middle school turned out to be average height, and my skinniness evened out, I got contacts and my hair turned out to have natural curl that I control with products.

    This too shall pass for your daughter as long as you keep the lines of communication open with her and feeding her self esteem as best you can.

    Do you have a church you can go to that has a youth group for her age group? My daughter is 14 years old and has these same problems but I really just try to talk to her and get her talking to me. It can be hard at times to navigate through her moodiness but we still try to stay connected that way. I hate this age especially for a girl, the world can be so unkind and that sucks.

  3. This breaks my heart! I wouldn't want to be in such a contest, even as an adult!

    I agree with Zazzy, though. I call those pictures from middle school, "the ugly years." Thank goodness for braces, contacts, and hair products, or we'd all be doomed. As you accurately point out, your daughter is going to be gorgeous when she grow up.

    In the meantime, I would gladly go to that stupid FB page with 10 friends RIGHT NOW and out-vote that other girl!

  4. Thanks for your supportive comments! It is such a hard age. I remember it all too well!

  5. Please, please don't let your 12 year old child on Facebook. Why? I don't understand it. I have a 12 year old son and he does not have texting ability or FB access. He has enough to worry about without the added pressure of possible harassment. There is plenty of time for FB in the future - 6 more years to be exact - when he is better able to handle his emotions. 12 is such a hard age, why make it harder.