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I’m getting Botox injections… Oh, and by the way, I’m eight-years old. After viewing a news video on abc.com in which a mother, Kerry, gives her eight-year old daughter, Britney, Botox treatments, I was at a total loss for words. What could possibly compel a mother to perform a painful cosmetic procedure on her elementary school age child? As far as I’m concerned, no explanation could suffice, barring some medical recommendation.

So, what is the reason for such an alarming practice? Easy… her daughter is a regular participant in beauty pageants and, at the ripe old age of eight, she is plagued with unsightly blemishes and wrinkles that detract from her appearance. Does this sound as ridiculous to you as it does to me? Since when does outward appearance and physical beauty trump childlike innocence? In defense of her actions, Kerry claims, “I’m not the only one that does it… a lot of moms do it… It’s a tough world in the pageant world; I’m telling you the kids are harsh…” When asked whether Britney requested Botox, her mom replied, “She didn’t exactly ask me about it, but I know that she was complaining about her face having wrinkles and things like that.” So, if my fifteen-year old daughter begins complaining about wrinkles around her smile, her eyes, her forehead, or her neck, I guess the obvious course of action would be to sign her up for a cosmetic procedure to “correct” her imperfections. How and when did we arrive at the conclusion that the normal wear and tear of life is unattractive or something that needs remedied? And, how does such a foolish perspective translate to an eight-year old child?

When Britney was asked why she does the Botox, her first answer was, “I don’t know.” After her mother prompted her with the answer, “Wrinkles,” Britney went on to say, “Oh yeah, I see like wrinkles and… I just don’t think wrinkles look nice on little girls.” As if the Botox treatment wasn’t enough, Kerry also gave her daughter an upper leg wax, in the event that “fluffy hair” appears. Britney says the body waxing was “super, super hard.” Although eight-year old Britney says she probably won’t be doing another leg wax in the near future, she says her reason for doing it in the first place is, “Because I just don’t think that it’s lady-like to have hair on your legs.”

It’s obvious from this video clip that, as a parent, Kerry is likely inflicting long term damage on this very impressionable child. It’s not the physical “flaws” we need to be concerned with, but rather the psychological message her actions imply. No matter what Britney is or does, she will never be enough. There are more lessons to be learned from this situation than I could possibly articulate, but a few obvious ones come to mind. First, as parents and adults in general, we must affirm our daughters for who they are, not for how they look. If each of us received love based on our appearance, most of us would probably be starving. Second, we must stop centering our daughters’ self-worth on their appearance. Aging is a natural and unavoidable phenomenon. Self-worth focused on physical appearance is a recipe for disaster. Certainly, there are other features or characteristics of significance, such as intelligence, sense of humor, individual talents and gifts, etc. Outward beauty is fleeting. Finally, we must stop showcasing our daughters as if they are ornamentation. Human beings are not property to be critiqued and embraced or discarded based on whether they are pleasing to the senses. Every human being has inherent worth and value and ought to be respected regardless of whether we find them attractive.

At the close of their interview, Kerry and Britney were asked if they thought Britney looked better after the Botox. Kerry replied, “Just on the lines… like when she does her smile, there would be lines… it would lessen the lines.” As for Britney, she says, “Yes, way better… like beautiful, pretty, like all those kind of nice words.” We’re all born an empty slate to be written on as we choose. Britney and daughters everywhere need to write this on their hearts: I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well (Psalm 139:14).

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