Are you one of the 2% of women who think they’re beautiful? Today Leslie Ludy, author of the book Set Apart Femininity, tells what it means to live with dignity as God’s true beauty.
Are you one of the 2% of women who think they’re beautiful? Today Leslie Ludy, author of the book Set Apart Femininity, tells what it means to live with dignity as God’s true beauty.
Leslie Ludy: A young woman who is a Victoria Secret super model she was interviewed for GQ magazine and in the interview she said you know everything about my beauty is fake. Everything has been enhanced in some way it’s not even real, then she said at the end of the interview, even my heart is fake.
She’s attained to this worldly allure and appeal through all these artificial means but inside she’s still feeling empty and hollow.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, September 10th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey and I’m Bob Lepine. What can we do as parents to help our daughters pursue genuine beauty, inner beauty? We’re going to talk about that today. Stay tuned.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today thanks for joining us. Do you think guys, I’m thinking of young guys, guys in their teens, twenties, I don’t know maybe beyond that. Do you think most guys are as concerned about whether they look good as women are concerned about whether…?
Dennis: Are you kidding? I don’t even need the rest of the question.
Bob: I mean it’s a bigger deal for women to look good.
Dennis: Oh my goodness, why? I have no idea; I mean I have been married to a woman now for 36 years, ok?
Bob: And if you’re getting ready to go out somewhere and you’re getting ready, how long does it take you?
Dennis: It takes me 15 seconds to figure out what I’m going to wear.
Bob: And with your wife?
Dennis: Well, it started the morning before.
Dennis: And she may have changed her mind three or four times. Let’s ask our guest here, Leslie Ludy, on FamilyLife Today. Leslie, welcome back.
Leslie: Thank you.
Dennis: Why do women take so long to make a decision about what they are going to wear?
Leslie: I don’t know if I can really answer that question completely, but I do think women have that intrinsic desire to be found beautiful and you know we grow up with it. We grow up with wanting to be Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, you know be this elegant, graceful, beautiful girl and then the culture really preys upon that longing and says well if you want to be beautiful you have to do this, you have look this way and dress this way.
I remember talking to a designer for Calvin Klein, he worked on their ads and their catalogs, and he said, one of the things that we do is we take a beautiful girl and we scan her image into the computer, but then we totally digitally altar everything about her to make her as appealing as what you see on a billboard or in a catalog.
We take inches off of her hips and her waist and we enhance her chest size and we airbrush her skin and we thicken her hair and we chisel out her cheekbones and we make her into this goddess that no one could actually really look like in real life and we slap that on a billboard and say, “Hey girls, this is beauty, this is what you need to go after.”
So there is that, you know, the normal desire as a woman to be beautiful and to look good but then there’s what the culture does to it which is warp it and twist it and make it into something that has to be that is truly unattainable, that you can never get there.
Dennis: In your book, Set Apart Femininity, you talk about some research that was done around the subject of beauty.
Dennis: What percentage of women feel like they’re beautiful?
Leslie: It’s only two percent of women who actually think that they are beautiful.
Dennis: Now, stop for a second, Bob, if you had been guessing?
Bob: You know I don’t know what I would have guessed, because I do know that most of the women that I’ve talked to are insecure about their physical appearance.
Dennis: But, I would never have guessed it would be that low.
Bob: One out of 50, yah, I don’t know.
Dennis: Yah, I would have thought, fifteen, twenty percent would feel beautiful.
Dennis: And it’s not so, is it?
Leslie: No, I think the majority of young women, even the ones that are; you know super models feel like they are not quite there yet. And I talk in the book about a young woman who is a Victoria Secret super model and she was interviewed for GQ magazine and in the interview she said, “you know everything about my beauty is fake, everything has been plastic, you know, enhanced in some way and it’s not even real.” and then she said at the end of the interview, “even my heart is fake.”
So, she’s attained this worldly allure and appeal through all these artificial means but inside she’s still feeling empty and hollow and she doesn’t really have real fulfillment. And I think a lot of young women struggle because they see the way guys are and most of the young women I talk to say, you know, I can’t compete with guys who are looking at porn on the internet and who are lusting after these supermodels in bikinis, I’ll never look that way.
I remember being in high school and all my guy friends would hang Sports Illustrated swimsuit model posters up on their bedroom walls and you’d walk into their house and you’d see these pictures and you’d think, well that’s what they really want in a girl, I’m not even close to that. I’ll never be there, and then you start, you know, you either I think as young women you kind of fall into one of two categories, you either just give up completely and just say it’s not even worth it, I’m not even going to try, or you become obsessed and you’re constantly thinking about your weight and what you’re wearing and what your make up looks like.
A lot of girls even at the age of 13 and 14 are getting plastic surgery now, or are falling prey to eating disorders because they are trying to attain this cultural standard that is literally an impossible standard.
Dennis: You tell the story of two women in your book that really contrast the issue of beauty, Maria and Jackie.
Leslie: Right. And Maria is a Victoria Secret super model. The one that I was talking about earlier, and she’s looked at by the world as, this is what real femininity is. This is the true picture of feminine beauty. But if you look at her life, she has a string of broken relationships, and heartache and all these, you know, partying, glamour and glitz but in the end she says even my heart is fake; there is nothing about this that is even real. You think that that’s going to bring you true fulfillment, but in the end it leaves you hollow and empty.
And then there’s another young woman that I contrast her story with named Jackie. It’s a true story of a young woman at the age of 20 who came to know Christ and decided she was going to live a poured out life for Christ and so she sailed across the world, and went to live among destitute and dying people and poured out her life for them. She doesn’t have glitz and glamour and fame and worldly applause, and yet when you see her and you talk to her and you hear her story you see real feminine beauty, you see the beauty of Jesus Christ shining through her and when you compare the two there really is no comparison and young women need to be given those examples to say what is real beauty anyway where does it come from, it doesn’t come from these things the world offers, it comes from Jesus Christ a life surrendered to him where His beauty shines through you, a selfless, poured out life, that’s what real feminine beauty is.
Bob: So do you think the desire in the heart of a little girl to be physically attractive is that as a result of the fall? Or is that a God implanted desire to be physically attractive.
Leslie: That is a really good question. I’ve been asked that quite a few times. If you look at the Bible, you know you see a love story between Christ and his bride and you see this gallant, noble man who lays down His life for His bride. And this constant wooing, we love Him, because He first loved us and He initiates and we respond and I think the feminine heart reflects that, that pattern that God created.
I think it just easily gets warped and twisted by the culture and becomes something it was never supposed to be. And my book really encourages young women you know the way that you’re going to find that fulfillment and that feeling of wanting to be a princess and wanting to be loved unconditionally wanting to be truly understood and appreciated is in a passionate romance with Jesus Christ, first and foremost.
It is a biblical pattern; it’s something that he wants us to experience with Him. And unfortunately women in this culture are looking for it everywhere but that. Even Christian young women, we are going after guys and the attention of the opposite sex and popularity and a certain body image and thinking that that’s what will make us feel truly feminine, when in reality a relationship with Jesus Christ, a life built around Him, a romance with Him is where that fulfillment really comes from.
Dennis: Let’s say right now we have a thirteen, fourteen, fifteen year old young lady listening to the broadcast, she is saying, you know, I think I understand what you are saying here. I certainly understand the contrast between the world and what the Bible is teaching, but if I could ask you what does it mean to be a real woman? What is femininity from a biblical perspective? What’s that picture that the Bible paints?
Leslie: I think Proverbs 31 is very overlooked, and a lot of times for young women, we’re thinking, oh, it’s for older women it’s for when you’re married, and when you have children that you should read Proverbs 31. But it’s a beautiful portrayal of what a true woman of God is.
Bob: Ok, hang on, I just heard the moan, “she’s not going to take us to Proverbs 31”.
Bob: “That always puts me under the pile. I read Proverbs 31 it’s like who can be that woman?”
Leslie: That’s right and I talk about that in the book, because its looked at as this impossible standard, this woman does all these things she’s just amazing and you know in a culture that constantly tells us we’re not good enough why would we want to look at a scripture that’s going to tell us, “yes, you’re still not good enough you’re not doing these things, you’re not enough.”
I love when you study Proverbs 31 it says “A virtuous woman who can find, that word virtuous translates as valiant, mighty and strong, not just you know just a woman who happens to do certain things with her life, but a woman who truly understands who Jesus Christ is, who’s given her life fully to Him and His strength, and His beauty has been worked within her. My husband Eric calls it, a blend between Audrey Hepburn dignity and Amy Carmichael devotion.
And I’ll explain that. Audrey Hepburn is one of those classic women in Hollywood, not necessarily her lifestyle would be something I’d want to encourage girls to emulate, but she did have a feminine dignity and grace that was not based on sexuality. She understood what it meant to truly be a lady and to carry herself with dignity and mystique and that’s a very lost concept when today’s world models Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears and that sort, that’s what femininity is.
But to look at what truly makes a lady and I talked about a man not conquering a woman’s purity, but learning to protect it. A lot of times as women we’re not giving men anything to protect, we’re not guarding our heart, we’re not carrying ourselves with mystique and holding ourselves like a lady, we’re just throwing ourselves at guys so they don’t have much to protect.
But to really give them something to protect and something to fight for by holding sacred the things in our lives that God holds sacred. And then Amy Carmichael, the blends of the Audrey Hepburn dignity, and Amy Carmichael devotion. Amy Carmichael she’s one of my heroes, a missionary that lived in the 1900’s and was over in India and rescued about a thousand children from being sold into temple prostitution and never married because she lived just a poured out life wanted to give herself fully to the kingdom of God.
And when you look at her life, you see that valiance, that virtuous feminine strength that I’m talking about in Proverbs 31. It’s a totally different way of approaching your femininity than what we typically see in this culture. It’s a life that says, my life is not my own, I’ve been bought with a price, I’m going to pour my life out for others, I’m not going to chase after approval and popularity and all the things that the world dangles in front of me. I’ve been rescued so that I can rescue others.
And so when you blend that ladylike dignity with that devotion and sacrifice for Christ, you get this spectacular picture of feminine beauty. And a lot of girls ask me, well to be set apart then do I become, you know, ugly and do I just wear like a tent-like dress and no makeup.
Dennis: Yes, that’s what I wanted to ask you at that point. Because as you talk about femininity and you look at the Proverbs 31 woman, and even if she does put you under the pile, her character…
Dennis: Really shines through and some of the first signals a woman ever sends a man she sends by the way she dresses.
Leslie: That’s right. That’s exactly right.
Dennis: Because her clothing here in Proverbs 31, were strength, and dignity and nobility.
Bob: It’s interesting as you say that because we always think of clothing reflecting beauty. Again, we’ve talked a lot about beauty this week. But clothing can also reflect character in addition to beauty. You’re sending messages about both your beauty and your character when you make choices about what you wear.
Leslie: That’s right. I use the scripture that John the Baptist says; “I must decrease, so that Christ would increase in my life”.
Bob: Now did your daughters ever do what Leslie’s already confessed to this week, wearing sweat clothes that had many skirts and halters underneath?
Dennis: If they did,
Bob: They got away with it?
Dennis: Well, I’m hoping we’re not giving some teenage daughters some ideas, but to the best of my knowledge, now I may ask them, Leslie, I may really ask and say, “Let me just, did you ever do that”. Now I don’t think they did because they would put on stuff at the stores when we would go and they wanted to buy the stuff. And as a parent, I had to remember I was not running for office, it was not trying to get their vote, it was not a popularity contest. I was to be daddy, and I know our daughters were their greatest fears after they ever bought anything was what would I say.
Leslie: And that’s so great because they need a man who’s going to stand up and protect them and for fathers to train their daughters that this is what a real man does. He protects a woman’s virtue. He doesn’t conquer it. To see that in their dad first, to have a protective dad. I work with thousands of young women and so many of them long for a father who would care enough to say, no you’re not going to walk out of the house in that. Most fathers have just said, oh well, that’s just popular, in fact, that’s the way that a lot of parents are going.
Bob: You know, I have to stick up for dads here who aren’t necessarily running for office or trying to be Mr. Popular, but they are trying to preserve a relationship. And they look at the pushback from a daughter and she threatens the nature of the relationship every time dad says, no I don’t think you should wear something like that. And he does start to fear, I’m going to lose her, I’m going to, if I stick with this, I will lose her and I don’t want to lose her.
So I don’t think its dads necessarily saying, I want to be popular, but they are concerned. I think what we have to remind dads of is that you may lose the relationship for an hour or a day or a couple of days, but in the long term.
Dennis: But if you really love her and you got a relationship with her, it will come back.
Leslie: Yes, exactly. And every young woman I’ve ever talked to wants a father who is willing to put that on the line just to say, no your future is more important to me, your purity is more important to me than what you think of me right now. They long for fathers who will do that.
Bob: You have seen the godly character and the qualities of the Proverbs 31 woman being lived out in some teenagers. In fact you talk about a couple of teenage girls from China, is that right? Who demonstrate Godly virtue?
Leslie: I heard about these two Christian girls from China they became Christians at the age of 16 and their families disowned them basically for their faith. And they had to walk away from all their comforts, all their securities, everything that they knew. But they were so in love with Jesus Christ that they said, “my life is no longer my own, we’re servants of the kingdom of God.” And they took these bicycles and they began to ride from village to village just proclaiming the good news of Christ everywhere they went.
And they had given their bicycles away to someone in need, by the time they got to the first village and people would come up to them on the street and say, you are, both of you are, glowing, you are radiant what do you have, what is this beauty that I see in you? And they didn’t have makeup, they didn’t go to the mall every weekend, they didn’t have any of the things that we so often run after as young women thinking it’s going to make us beautiful. But they had a passionate romance with Jesus Christ and it came cascading through them.
And that is true Proverbs 31 strength and feminine beauty, to know Jesus Christ like that. I work with a lot of young women who profess to know Jesus Christ, but their lives are really for themselves. I remember hearing a group of girls just about a year or two ago talking about their very favorite movie, and it was a chick flick, and it was a romantic movie.
But I went online and looked up the movie on a parent guide website that talked about all the questionable sexual content in the movie in graphic detail. And it went on for about two or three pages, single spaced, about all of the sexual, the fornication happening in the movie and the affairs, the adultery and all the graphic scenes that they showed.
And these young women weren’t making the connection that to be passionately in love with Jesus Christ means to not dabble in the things of the world, to not try to be of the world and also of Jesus Christ, but to live a completely set apart life for Him and to not run after those things to bring pleasure and fulfillment. I think a lot of times in modern Christian America, you know teenagers especially just miss it because we live in this self-indulgent, comfortable lifestyle. And a lot of times as Christian leaders, we’re not challenging them towards something more.
But here are these two girls on the other side of the world that have nothing, and yet have everything. That’s the kind of femininity that we want to be encouraging our daughters towards.
Bob: When you’re talking about set-apartness. I mean the title of your book, Set Apart Femininity, you’re talking about an abandonment a willingness to say what really does matter most, more than anything else is how I serve Christ, how I love Christ and I’m ready to let everything else go. And I’m thinking of the apostle Paul who said, “This one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind, I press on”. There’s an abandonment to anything else, but that goal.
Leslie: When I was sixteen, I made that decision, I had been “a Christian” since the age of five, but my life was for myself. I wanted the benefits of following Christ, I wanted to know that I was going to heaven in the end, but for the most part, I wanted to have fun and do things my way.
And I remember hearing a preacher named Leonard Ravenhill, say what does it mean to be a Christian? Your life is hid with Christ in God, you are no longer your own, you’ve been bought with a price. And when I truly understood what it meant, that I had to lay down my life for Jesus Christ I had to let Him take over, I had to live for Him and not myself and it was an act of absolute surrender.
And it wasn’t until I knelt down by my bed and said, “Lord, I surrender my entire life on the altar to you, you can do whatever you want with my future, with my career, with whether I ever get married or not, it’s in your hands, this is your life, not mine”. And it wasn’t until I made that exchange that I understood what real femininity was, what it meant to live set apart and it wasn’t until I made that decision that I stopped chasing after all these things in the world, because I no longer wanted those things, I wanted what Jesus Christ had to offer me.
And so often parents get caught up in, well we have to teach our kids this, and make sure they don’t have sex, and make sure they don’t do this or that, but to lead them to that exchange of surrendering all to Jesus Christ is the foundation of everything that you want for your kids.
Dennis: Young people today, especially teenage young ladies need the right voices in their lives and they need a mother and a father who are voicing the right kind of standards and modeling those standards. Secondly they need the voice of scripture like Proverbs 31. They need to see what it looks like, and then third, Leslie, I think they need voices like yours. And I’m just grateful for your ministry to young ladies today because it wasn’t that long ago, you were there.
Leslie: That’s right.
Dennis: You were grappling with the issues. I remember, Bob, when we were raising our four teenage daughters. Anytime we had a young lady who was a little bit older than our daughters we’d try to expose our daughters to that voice and let them hear that standard and that perspective of life.
And it’s really why a book like this and the voice of a book that’s relevant in today’s language for young ladies can really give them that standard that we’re talking about. And it may not sell, Bob, but again the key is that you’re getting it into their soul. You’re addressing the spiritual needs of the next generation. And you’re challenging them to make that exchanged life surrender to Jesus Christ.
Bob: Well I do think that there are obviously a lot of competing messages, a lot of competing sales pitches going on, but I think there’s something that resonates deeply in the heart of the soul of a teenage girl when you call her to embrace God’s standard.
Leslie: That’s right.
Bob: The Bible talks about the fact that God’s standards are written on our heart and so when we tap into that, when we call people to live noble, transformed lives in the power of the Holy Spirit as people who have been changed by Christ, there’s something again that resonates in the heart of a young woman. And that’s what your book is doing for a lot of young women today.
The book is called, Set Apart Femininity, we’ve got copies of it in our FamilyLife Today resource center. I want to encourage moms to get a copy of this book and maybe go through it together with your daughter. Take a day a week and head out for breakfast together, or just get some time alone and each of you read through a chapter and talk about what Leslie is talking about in this book.
Again, you will find it in our FamilyLife Today resource center online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or call toll-free 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-FLTODAY. And if you’re daughter is a preteen and you have not taken her through the Passport to Purity material that we’ve put together where a mom and a daughter get away for a weekend and listen to some CD’s and talk about peer pressure and talk about dating relationships and talk about the birds and the bees. This kit is designed to help parents do that and we’ve got it in our FamilyLife Today resource center. Again, find out more online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FLTODAY and someone on our team can answer any questions you have or make arrangements to have the resources you need sent to you.
You know, we’ve talked about some of the mistakes that teen girls are making when it comes to relationships in the context of today’s program. There are a lot of young singles who are making relationship mistakes as well. And we had a conversation not long ago with author and pastor, Chip Ingram, about that very subject. Chip has a heart for singles in our culture today, and he has some very keen observations about how singles need to be thinking when it comes to love, sex, and lasting relationships.
We talked with him for almost two hours and recorded the conversation on a couple of CD’s and this week we’re making those CD’s available to our listeners when you help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation of any amount. We are listener supported so your contributions are what keep us on the air in this city and in other cities all across the country and we appreciate your support very much. If you’re donating online at FamilyLifeToday.com and you would like to receive the CD’s I was talking about, just type the word “love” in the key code box that you find on the online donation form.
Or if you are calling to make your donation at 1-800-FLTODAY, after you’ve made the donation, just say, I’d like those CD’s they were talking about on the radio, and we’ll make sure they get sent to you. And again we appreciate your partnership with us, your support of this ministry. You make it possible for FamilyLife Today to be on this station and on more than a thousand stations and outlets all across the country and around the world as well. And we appreciate your financial support.
Tomorrow Leslie Ludy is going to be back with us, we’re going to continue to talk about what set apart femininity looks like and I hope you can be back with us for that as well.
I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host Dennis Rainey I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock Arkansas
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