Time magazine reports that 80 percent of American children reaching age 10 have already been on some type of weight diet. The number of girls with eating disorders or looking into cosmetic surgery is on the rise. Meanwhile, boys are getting pierced and starting to lift weights at a very early age. The result: children who are obsessed with appearances and matching the high standards set by their peers for what is attractive.
The home may be one of the last places in society where the inward qualities that make for beauty can be taught and cherished. Children can also be given the kind of love and adoration that bolsters a healthy sense of self-esteem. This will help them to hold to their own values and worth when they are challenged to conform to society's extreme standards for what constitutes external attractiveness.
Etan Boritzer's book about beauty is the fourth title in his "What is?" series, others having looked at God, death, and love. It is aimed at children from four to ten years old. The multicultural approach in the illustrations by Nancy Forrest salutes the differences between children and the toleration that is necessary for diversity to be celebrated in our communities.
Our senses tell us that beauty has many shapes, sizes, aspects, and incarnations. Yet oftentimes we miss the beauty that is all around us because we just don't see it or have too limited ideas about it. Boritzer peppers the text with questions to encourage kids to explore all the possibilities.
Beauty can be seen in the actions of those who are brave and peaceful and giving. In other words, beauty is about "inside stuff," and we can learn more about it from our mothers and fathers, grandparents, teachers, and friends. This wonderful children's book celebrates the bounties of beauty and challenges us to drink deep of all its manifestations in our everyday lives.