Tuesday, February 4, 2020

dear daughters: what you should learn from the super bowl

Dear Daughters,

Right now, the media (social and otherwise) is full of commentary from women about the Super Bowl halftime show. There are hateful words being spewed from both sides of the argument (a sad truth in any argument today--people seem to have forgotten how to communicate respectfully with each other), women who are accusing the other side of not honoring or respecting women. So what are you, a young lady trying to find your place in the world as you grow into a woman, supposed to think?

Let me be one more voice--maybe a quiet one, but one I think you should hear--both in regards to the halftime show and that one pesky "make space for women" commercial.

Okay, the elephant in the room--halftime. I'm going to be that crazy person that tells you not everything has to be one extreme or the other. In this case, that means there was good and bad in that show.

First, that performance was by two women who put on quite a display of athleticism. If you've ever tried dancing, you know what I mean. There's a reason so many exercise routines through the years have involved dance. The preparation and training that went into two middle-aged women (yes, believe it or not, Shakira is 43 and Jennifer Lopez is 50, so they are pretty firmly entrenched in the "middle age" classification) doing what they did is something to be admired. From that, I want you to learn to work hard for what you want. Put in the time and the effort, because that's the only way you'll get results. Big dreams don't come easily.

Second, both women acknowledged their cultural backgrounds--which I find really amazing. Jennifer Lopez's parents both immigrated to the United States from Puerto Rico as children, while Shakira's parents were originally from Lebanon and Colombia. This world is full of amazing cultures, and I wish we were all better at acknowledging the beauty in each of them. One of the best lessons I've learned from my physics degrees has nothing to do with physics--those programs gave me the opportunity to meet people from around the world and learn a little bit more about their cultures as a result, and that's something for which I'm thankful. It's easy to vilify the unknown, and when we close ourselves off to learning about other people and other cultures, that's most often what happens. Take the time to get to know people instead of just listening to what gets said about them. Otherwise, you'll miss out on some incredible opportunities and friendships.

Third, people who do good can also do bad (and vice versa). In this case, two women who on one hand showed strength also chose to stoop to putting on an over-sexualized show in front of millions of people, including you. Hear me on this--sex isn't bad. God created us to be sexual beings, but as is the case with everything good, there are limits. In this case, that limit is marriage. No, it isn't empowering to show off the overwhelming majority of your body in front of the whole word. What is empowering is being with the one man who loves you no matter what, the one who sees you at your best and at your worst, and knowing that he will protect your dignity because he protects your heart, just like you protect his. When you give your body to someone, you're also giving them part of your heart. Make sure you're giving you heart to the one person who has vowed to guard and protect it, not to anyone who will drool over it. What's sad to me is that in the picture below I see two women who could have made such a positive impact on the young girls who were part of their show--and the millions of people watching.

Picture from elle.com

Your beauty doesn't come from how many people you can make lust after your body. Instead, it comes from your relationship with God.

"let your adornment be what’s inside—
the real you, the lasting beauty of a gracious and quiet spirit,
in which God delights."
1 Peter 3:4 (VOICE)

Your beauty comes from your confidence in who you are as a daughter of the Creator of the Universe, the one who loves you. Your beauty is shown by how you treat those around you. It's shown by the words you speak, the confidence you instill in those around you. It's shown by how you exhibit the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

If you rely on outward beauty, you're going to be disappointed--because like it or not, one day that beauty will fade. It will turn soft and wrinkled, but it will still be beautiful to the man who looks at you and sees the beauty within.

Along those lines, you can't make the choice to objectify your body and then get mad when guys do it. If you're showing off, it's because you want to be looked at. Don't dress in clothes that show all the cleavage and then tell guys, "Eyes up here" when they talk to you. If you don't respect yourself and your body, other people won't either.

Okay, so on to that pesky commercial...

I'm all for encouraging girls to jump into the STEM fields. There has been a lot of research that shows that girls are actually very well suited for math and science--we can think spatially and are good with numbers, despite the common saying that "girls can't do math." Some of my favorite people are strong, capable women who are excelling in those fields. I'm dealing with numbers and data and Excel spreadsheets every day, and it's wonderful (even if it's hard to explain my job to people sometimes)! I've often said that I'm better with numbers than I am with people, so if that's your passion chase after it. Use those lessons in working hard to achieve something great (you know, one of the things you learned from the halftime show), and go to space or study big cats. I'll be cheering you on and telling everyone who will listen how proud I am.

But please, for the love of all that is good--don't follow that up with the "dumb girl" moment of asking, "What does this button do?" while hitting said button. Oh my goodness, I will never understand why Olay chose to end their commercial on how women are capable by having one of them accidentally eject them both into space.

You don't have to be ditzy to be liked. Your intelligence and your abilities are every much a part of who you are as your eye color and your laugh, and you don't need to downplay any of those things. Be confident in who you are. If you're a physics nerd, the right person will tell you you're smart enough (even when you don't think it). If you snort when you really laugh, the right guy will think it's the best part of your laugh and will make it his goal to make you laugh that hard every day (probably in public--good and bad, remember?). Wisdom is a gift, and it shouldn't be squandered because of insecurity. You'll never be who God intends for you to be if you try to hide the gifts He's given you.

 "But the wisdom from above is, first of all, pure,
then peaceful, kind, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits,
without partiality and without hypocrisy."
James 3:17 (CJB)

"It is in Him (Christ) that all the treasures
of wisdom and knowledge are hidden."
Colossians 2:3 (CJB)

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