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The Church Shouldn't Promote Self-Esteem


The First Baptist Church in Beckley, West Virgina, organized a conference to help young girls build self-esteem in defiance of a beauty culture which fixates upon superficial features. The Register-Herald reports:

Contemporary Christian musical artist Karen Spurlock will be leading worship at the event.

“Having three girls of my own, I am very aware of how early little girls begin to evaluate themselves and others in superficial ways,” said Carrico. “It occurred to me that so many women suffer daily by comparing themselves to others, and it all starts between the ages of five and 10.”

Part of the reason girls are so imprisoned by the beauty culture, Carrico said, is that they mistakenly equate being “pretty” with their self-worth.

One goal of the Christian-based conference is to assure girls that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder but in the “eye of the Creator,” Carrico said.

“The only way to help girls see past all this is to teach them that pretty is fine, that’s awesome, but it’s not beauty,” she said. “Their belly may not be completely flat today, or ever, and that’s OK, because God created us in His image, so...deal with it,  you’re perfect.”

Certainly, girls and young women ought to be encouraged to look beyond the superficial. That said, should any self-evaluation result in the conclusion that you are perfect?

Promoting self-esteem has become a primary goal of education and community activities involving children. The now cliché participation trophy stands as a hallmark example. Adults teach children to feel good about themselves not due to cited merit, but as a means to spite the evaluations of popular culture. However, unearned pride can be just as destructive as a lack of confidence. Rather than teach children to err on one side to spite the other, we ought to encourage honest evaluations based on objective criteria which help guide efforts at improvement.