Popularity: Conforming Rather than Being Yourself

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This morning I helped my youngest pick out her clothes for school. She’s normally not too picky as long as everything matches (even if that means everything she is wearing has stripes).

We had a cute black and white outfit put together and I mentioned that she could wear her teal flower headband for a pop of color. Her eyebrows creased, “Mom, my friend at school told me that I’m starting popularity and that I’m not allowed to wear bright colors anymore.”

Starting popularity?

I was too tired, thankfully, to laugh. I mean, really…she’s a third grader.

At breakfast, and after I was fully awake, we talked about it a little more. I asked questions of both my girls:

Why do you want to be popular? (Because so-and-so is popular)

What does it mean to be popular? (Shoulders shrugged)

Do you get something special when you are popular? (Brows creased in frustration. At this point, they think I’ve lost it. How is it that their mother doesn’t understand how important popularity is?)

We discussed what being popular means, looked up the word in the dictionary, and contemplated the reasons that people would want to be popular before I asked one final question: Why would you choose to change yourself for someone else?

And that’s when it hit me…we do it all the time as adults. I don’t want my daughter to change her appearances to please someone else and yet, don’t I do the same thing?

As adults, we look at people and mimic their style, actions, and even perspectives on life, often disregarding who we are at the core, who God made us to be. We wear certain clothing, hairstyles, attend functions, complete tasks, and often go along with the crowd, despite what we know is best for us.

We try to measure up to popular standards.

Let me clarify that I am not talking about your boss. If he or she tells you that you must wear black pants as your work attire, that’s not conforming to popular demand, that’s keeping your job. Wear the black pants.

As I told my daughter: there is only one you. God made each of us different and if he’d wanted two of each of us (scary thought!) then he would have made two of each of us. So rather than wishing to be someone else, begrudging the person God made us to be and the gifts he’s given us, let’s stop and reflect on what the Bible says about who we are:

“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

We are created in HIS image. Why in the world would we want to be anything other than what he made us to be?

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

Fearfully and wonderfully made. Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself over and over again until you actually believe it: YOU are fearfully and wonderfully made.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

God made us special. To be special. For His glory. Beautiful. Beloved. Known by Him.

My daughters’ comment was, perhaps, just innocent: she’s a little girl who wants to dress like her friends. Is that so wrong? No, not inherently. It’s what comes out of our envy and desire to please others that is. When we desire to please people in such a way that we are willing to compromise ourselves, we lose track of the fact that the only one we should be aiming to please is God.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23) than any accolade, the world could throw at me. How about you?

Food for thought today.

And don’t worry – I asked my oldest whether popularity was an issue in her class (5th grade). The response: “Don’t worry Mom, no one in my class cares about popularity, they are all just crushing on each other.”

A discussion for another day, I’m guessing.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Love,

Sarah

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Conforming to be Popular only results in heartbreak. Use these tips to help your child manage their struggle.

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