Ms. America, We Need to Talk. Woman to Woman.
Because there are some things you should know, now, more than ever. Things that nobody is saying. About beauty. About truth.
First, on beauty—
My dear, you embody beauty. You were blessed with a gift of physical loveliness that borders on physical perfection. You were perfectly sculpted, painted and finished. You are a captivating treasure, and you should not be undervalued.
And even though you and I exist on opposite ends of the beauty spectrum, I'm grateful for your gift. I don't envy you, or it. Natural beauty like yours would be a difficult gift to carry and wield.
The curse of beauty is that—when not cradled and handled delicately—it's like a wall. You can't get people to see past it. You can't get them to look into the deeper, more complex version of you. They halt at the surface pleasure of your beauty. They admire and value you for your beauty alone. They forget and deny there's more to you than your beauty.
But you and I both know there IS more to you. A whole woman with dreams and desires, personality and opinions, thoughts and plans and heart songs. Lasting importance and worth. You are not just your skin, your shape, your naturally long-lashed eyes. These beautiful features are only the tiniest details about you. They merely hint at the full, more radiant masterpiece of you—the whole you.
And it's this whole you, the enduring you—not just your pieces—that deserves to be fully recognized and loved.
I want you to know and have the kind of genuine love, respect, admiration and friendship that isn't hinged on the quicksand of your beauty.
And I hope you want this kind of love and respect for yourself, too. Because you deserve it.
And this deserving has nothing to do with your beauty. Or your place in the pageant. Or your age. Or your social status, physical gifts, career success, bank account, intelligence, family of origin, or any other controlled or uncontrolled trait or characteristic you do or don't possess.
You deserve to be treated with deep love and respect because you're a person.
Don't let anyone make you think otherwise.
But now, for the hard truth about your beauty, the part where the woman-to-woman connection comes in:
You and I both know the power of a beautiful female body.
How it affects people. How it can be used, and misused.
To some people, your body is a magnet: it's not just beautiful, it's intensely attractive and compelling. Not in a healthy way. These are the kind of people who can't get past your bodily beauty. They are so fixated by your surface parts, they are paralyzed, tragically unable to see the rest of you, the best of you, hidden inside your radiant skin and lovely frame.
These are some of the same, unfortunate people who disrespect you, call you crude names, write you off, attack your beauty while capitalizing off it in the moment, while using it for their own selfish purposes before writing you off.
Their weaknesses are not your fault. Sadly, such people were never taught—or otherwise tragically failed to develop—the critical life skill of respecting a woman for her whole person-hood, without condition.
But here's where you come in.
The first person who must believe that you deserve respect... is you.
If you don't believe this about yourself, you won't be able to demand it from—or for—any other person.
And because of the recognition and access your gift has granted you, personally, you have a great power to influence. You play a critical role that few, if any, other women can, in such effect. Many of us are supporting you in acting out this mission in our small, daily lives, but we don't have the sway you do, we need you, with your level of beauty and influence. We need you to be the leader, the public face and model of a culture-changing movement that teaches people how to truly respect women.
This is accomplished most effectively without the distracting confusion caused by bikinis and plunging evening gowns. You will want to dress the message: you will want to model respect for your own beautiful, capable female body while teaching this concept to others.
This will free you, allow you to wield the power of your beauty—differently. More emphatically. More powerfully.
Because only when your gift of physical beauty is properly, delicately managed, can it be used for good.
We both know it's hard to get respect for the entirety of the feminine genius and womanly mystique while parading her (maximally exposed) body around, demanding people to focus on and judge her for her surface "value." That's not fair. It's not logical. And it's just not effective.
Nowhere in history have beauty contests or expositions of the female body proven to be sophisticated, effective methods of fostering whole-woman, whole-person respect. This only undermines our efforts.
And I'm sure we can do better than this.
Rating women for their beauty is where Ms. America started in 1921—and not only hasn't it progressed since then, it's actually regressed. You don't get into the Ms. America pageant if you aren't supremely beautiful—and willing to show every allowable inch.
But this isn't the road to respect—not for you, not for women, not for men, and certainly not for those who need help learning it.
But the good news is: there's a better road to respect and you are the most capable leader.
You can use your beauty to model and teach respect for women—or you can crawl at the feet of the culture of disrespect.
You could show the world that your beauty is only one part of your vibrant, complex, priceless and enduring womanhood—or show them that women are like dead statues, to be momentarily stared at and judged on their aesthetic appeal.
You could be the one who didn't let the out-of-line pageant officials and chauvinists and misogynsts off easy by saying #metoo, and then going back to yourself short, showing every inch of what you've got, letting them win by caving into their weaknesses and demands.
But I want better for you.
You could attract the kind of people who don't just say—but make known by their actions—that you are beautiful to them, inside and out.
You could help foster and teach respect by not giving people the chance to disrespect you.
You could be the one whose beauty shone through, and intensified, because she covered her skin, refusing to spotlight it to the scrutiny and judgment and detriment of those unwilling or unable to respect it.
And if you rose to this occasion, you could change not just your life, but pageant history, and the lives of millions of women in this and future generations. You could show other women they are capable and worthy of respect.
You could be the one who was remembered for fighting for true respect of women, by not lowering herself to a level that permitted or even invited disrespect or played to others' weaknesses.
You could be the one who showed the world that skin and shape aren't the defining factors of female worth—your worth.
And if you can lead the way like this, if you can exude your beauty like this, you don't just win, you keep winning. You start a new era of wins.
Points to Ponder + Discuss:
- What are the world's expectations of beautiful women?
- How have we catered to the world's standards—personally, and as a society?
- How do beauty pageants promote or inhibit respect of women?
- Is the #metoo movement an effective way of fostering awareness or respect for women? Why or why not?
- Ponder / discuss the following verse as it might relate to this topic: