Spiritual Messages and Teachings for LDS Youth and Youth Leaders

Self Esteem 101: Your Appearance

By: John Bytheway

From the book: What I Wish I’d Known in High School: A Crash Course in Teenage Survival

Hey, this is nice! Backstroke Drive looks really attractive. Why don’t we try building our self-esteem on our appearance? You know, our clothes, our looks, our “image.” Kind of tempting, huh.

I have a seminary-teacher friend named Kim Peterson. He gave a wonderful talk once where he passed out score cards and had all the youth “rate” certain people on a scale of 1 to 10. He held up a picture of a supermodel and all the boys gave her a 10. (Of course all the girls scored her in the 1 to 2 range.) Then he held up a picture of Charlie Sheen. This time the girls gave the 10’s and the guys the 1’s and 2’s. He showed many more pictures, and everyone was having a good time. Then came the teaching moment; amidst all the fun, Brother Peterson showed a portrait of Jesus. Confusion fell over the room. No one knew what to do! Some held up a 10; others tried to combine cards to make bigger numbers. The room became quiet because the game didn’t seem to make sense anymore. Then Brother Peterson made a profound statement: “There is something wrong with a system where Jesus Christ and Charlie Sheen get the same score.” What a great insight! There is something wrong with that system! (I think even Charlie Sheen would agree.) And yet we use it every day to judge ourselves and to judge others. We are daily taught by the media to appreciate very few body types, and we often seem to value people only if they are “good lookin’.” I think Leo Tolstoy said it very well:

It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness. 2

We should value people for what’s inside, not for the package they come in (see 1 Samuel 16:7 . . . hey, I’m not joking! Go look it up). Besides, with time the package will change. We don’t love our grandmas because they are supermodels; we love them because of the quality of their hearts. Someday, everyone’s “package” will be resurrected, and their status will be based on the beauty in their hearts and the purity of their lives.

Yup, better not build on Backstroke Drive. If we do, our self-esteem will float away like the other homes built on the riverbank. Back in the truck, Chuck. Now, what was the other place the agent mentioned?

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