My essays about healthy relationships with God, others, & yourself.

The value of "Plain"

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A forgotten homework assignment from Men’s Fraternity encouraged us dads to discuss with each family member a list of various traits and how they relate to each of us.  One night last fall, after Cindy had gone to bed, my daughters (age 12 and 15) and I were in a mood to chat, and I happened to remember the forgotten assignment.   I retrieved my workbook from the van and for the next hour and a half, the three of us chatted and laughed and pondered and evaluated what traits are unique and important to each of us.  It was one of those rare, insightful, “magic moments” that you treasure forever.

One of the traits to be discussed was the word “plain,” which launched us into a wonderful conversation about appearances.  This gave me an opportunity to formulate into words what I had been thinking about for a while:  how I hope that my daughters are always rather plain in appearance.

Now I know to some of you what I just said sounds horrible.  In this world which values fashion, glamour, and beauty, such a statement sounds almost emotionally abusive.  In fact, I’ve even read books by well-known Christian authors which talk about how essential it is for dads to frequently tell their daughters how pretty and beautiful they look.

So what kind of dad would wish plainness on his own daughters?   This one.

Having been completely surrounded by teenagers for the past 22 straight years, I’ve learned a thing or two about the adolescent male mind!  I know exactly what turns heads and captivates the eyes and sets guys upon a mad pursuit to satisfy their physical longings.  And quite frankly, I don’t want my girls to be the object of such sensual arousals (outside of courtship and marriage.)

I often express to them how I love that their focus is on inward beauty, character, commitment, respect, integrity, and love for others rather than on make-up and fashion and hairstyles.  How I love that they spend their hours in front of books and sheet music and creative projects rather than in front of the mirror, trying to become more “datable”.  How I appreciate that they honor their “brothers” by dressing modestly and acting responsibly and helping redefine what I think to be true femininity.

We talked about how it would be easy to attract any degenerate guy with their body, but how a true gentleman would be sufficiently attracted to their character.  How “the bait you use determines the kind of fish you catch.”  How the treadmill of appearance management is no way to truly live.  How miserable are those whose lives consist of becoming head-turners. We talked about Miss California and Donald Trump, and Mary-Kate and Ashley, and the Bachelorette, and wardrobe malfunctions, and proms, and body piercing and a whole lot more.   And they get it!

So I’ll say it again:  I hope my girls keep themselves rather plain in appearance.  And I hope they always work to stay beautiful inwardly.   By doing so, they’ll indeed be quite a catch someday!

And I think I have some scripture to back me up.

 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Prov 31:30

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. 2 Tim 2:9-10

1 Comment

  1. Mark Forstrom

    Addendum. When Tim first expressed to me his desire to pursue Brenda in a courtship relationship, I asked him what he found attractive about her. This is what he said, “One thing I really admire about Brenda is how she doesn’t have to always wear makeup to cover up her acne. She is comfortable being herself and she doesn’t have to pretend as a way to impress others.”

    That Tim was attracted to Brenda’s character and “plain” appearance showed me that he was exactly the kind of guy I want for her!

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