Attracting Attention: Virtue or Vice?

If your upbringing was anything similar to mine, you were probably raised to believe that attracting any kind of attention to yourself was a sin. Seeking attention usually evolved from the sin of vanity or pride, I understood. I therefore naturally developed an aversion to any attention coming my way and ended up with low self esteem – for more reasons than one.

Well along comes motherhood and having a daughter to raise myself now, I have tried to acquire the fine art of balance between nurturing her self esteem and discouraging the sins of vanity, pride and self absorption. Since I often speak on the topic of image presentation and self-confidence, it may seem like I have perfected this art. I can assure you that this juggle has occasionally landed me flat on my face!  While my daughter is a “good” kid, I seek to be educated on the topic and have sought any and every avenue available – prayer, to psychology and everything in-between. All to stay one step ahead – or so I think – of my teenager! From her perspective, I’m probably the Hovering Hornet – or worse!

St.-Baldricks-T-Shirt-DesignWith our society placing the utmost importance on the physical, external image of a person, it is hardly any wonder that the gravitational pull is NOT toward finding the image within and nurturing our soul. I pray daily with and for my daughter that she may be able to use every one of her gifts and talents to fulfill ALL that God has planned for her. While I am still on my toes and not about to relax them any time soon, those prayers worked… The following is an email she sent out to a few friends and family a couple of days ago:

Hey Everyone!!

I need your help please. I’ve answered the call to make a difference! I’m having my head shaved to stand in solidarity with kids fighting cancer, but more importantly, to raise money to find cures.

I have realized lately that my outer appearance is constantly on my mind and I am always worried about how I look. Cancer patients do not have the option of growing or styling their hair. Our society today, including me, cares a lot about the physical appearance and gets way too attached to unimportant things we think make us who we are, for example: our hair.
I really want to make a difference in this world, especially helping kids in need, and this is just one little way I can. On Thursday, March 14th 2013, at 6 pm I will be getting my head shaved -in Atlanta, GA. If you’d like to be there to watch, that will be great as well – otherwise I will have pictures!

Please support me with a donation to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation – no gift is too small. This volunteer-driven charity funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U.S. government. Your gift will give hope to infants, children, teens and young adults fighting childhood cancers. So when I ask for your support, I’m really asking you to support these kids. – Thank you!

Here is the link to donate: click here
Please share this email and if you go to this link on facebook, you can share the post there too…

Love,
Michaela

Boys shaving their heads shaved is not too much out of the ordinary; a teenage girl doing it on the other hand takes some gumption! It is not going to be easy for Michaela – her action will not be over and done with in a few days – the hair has to actually grow back! I plan on being there to support and encourage her bravery. In the mean time however, this mission has her excited (yes – still nervous about no hair) and filled with a sense of purpose. While she is raising awareness and funds to help cure Kids Cancer, I believe the initiative is one that is relevant on many different levels in addition because of the “bald” component. As follows:

  1. As she mentions in her note, when kids are fighting for their life – being concerned about HAIR or MAKEUP or WHAT TO WEAR – pales in comparison to FEAR and FATIGUE and VOMIT.
  2. Michaela acknowledges that youth today – including her, have another grave ill to overcome… They are so focused on just their external image that they fail to realize their total potential – thus selling themselves short. This daring shave allows her to use something society – especially her peers – sees as a negative in terms of image (baldness), and call attention to the shallowness.
  3. It encourages diversity of thought and acceptance of diversity in look. Michaela herself has been a victim of bullying because she is not like 99% of all girls today who wear their hair long and as a result has borne the brunt of cruel remarks and jokes. This gives those with the tendency to be petty to take a harder look in the mirror – and possibly re-evaluate.

I believe this is one of those times that making a statement by garnering attention, is for the greater good of us all – a virtue rather than vice. During this Lenten season, I believe Michaela’s sacrifice will make a difference and tell a story she can be proud of for years to come. It is one of those days when Motherhood IS all is cracked up to be!

Marisa Pereira

By

Marisa Pereira is a mother, fashion designer, currently runs a Design and Image Consulting business in Atlanta, GA, is a freelance writer and volunteers at her church and in the community. She holds a BA in Fashion Design and a BA in French with a minor in Psychology and has worked in the Fashion Industry for over twenty years. Frustrated at her inability to find appropriate church clothes for her 14 year old daughter, she heeded God’s call, and created the stylish but modest, Michaela-Noel clothing collection, now available on-line. Having lived in multiple countries, she is acutely aware of the emphasis cultures place on visual appeal. She analyzes the importance of presenting the best image of ourselves and passionately insists that it starts within. She regularly addresses adult and youth audiences – encouraging and teaching them to make a memorable first impact but more importantly - to create a lasting impression. Her websites are: www.mpcimage.com and michaela-noel.com.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • James H, London

    Well done, that girl! And her mother :)

  • Rosanne

    Exellent! Points out where our identity needs to be….in Christ. Unless our identity is in Christ we will let self esteem, worrry about others opinion, society dictates, and fear rule us. We are not defined by what we see in the mirror but by what the one who created us sees

  • Joe Stong

    Uniforms draw our attention to those who wear them. And it matters when we’re in the hospital to see someone dressed as a doctor rush to our side…. or someone dressed as a police officer to flag us down on the highway. It matters at weddings to dressed appropriately – so as to honor the guests. Our Lord spoke of the interior life as of primary importance…but stipulated that the exterior does matter to the degree it reveals (vs. hides) this interior life.

    Thus he counsels us to hide our acts of charity and fasting…. so as to be repaid not by the esteem of others but by the invisible Father who sees all…. but he also cautions us to show decorum for wedding parties by being properly dressed.

    It’s always a matter of priority and balance…. may our exterior be a sign of our interior…. don’t idolize the exterior as though the inner person doesn’t matter.
    If my attitude with respect to grooming and dress is to honor others rather than myself, then vanity won’t be a threat. But if I seek to hide myself or pass myself off as something I’m not (to fake it)… I’m doing dishonor to myself and to witnesses….
    All of life is built from information…the DNA molecule is itself a ‘word’ that makes flesh… and thus all that is about us and life in general is full of, pregnant of information. Our bodies can’t help but be signs of some truth… Our faces can’t help but communicate… our bodies too and all that we use to adorn them. It’s all a language, a vehicle of transfering data…. and thus clothing (or lack thereof) always have something to say for those who know what to look at or how to read it.
    Some, perhaps most of this constant languge is unintentional, innocent even. But to the degree we’re aware, we must be responsible for our faces, our words, our looks- not to become idols for others but to be messengers of the truth of God and love to others.

  • frank

    Always a fine line to walk, this one. Cultural influences certainly play a role. Moreover, the decline in objective standards in all areas not to mention dress make it difficult for children and their parents when it comes to clothing, makeup, jewelry, hair etc. Prayer helps but becoming informed by reading and listening to those more up on style and fashion helps as well. Advice from someone who is informed on matters of style and serious about their faith is the best place to start! That’s why what you do is so appreciated Marisa. To be sure your advice to Michaela regarding her endeavor is right on the mark. God bless you both. Keep up the good work.

  • Caroline McCoy-Hansen

    This decision that Michaela has come to, with your support, is breathtaking. I have experienced mother’s who shave their heads to support their children, and children who have shaved their heads to support their Mother’s, who are dealing with Cancer. It is a difficult choice for an adult women, with the maturity to make that decision, but for a child it seems almost impossible. if Michaela had a hard time with children when her hair was not as long as theirs, can you imagine what she will face when she is bald? Just the shock of shaving her beautiful hair off is sure to impact her. What may give her the kind of support she needs is for her Mother, you, to step-u to the plate and join her in that sacrifice. I realize it will be difficult but you, as an adult, understand the ramifications of what she is about to do. She trusts your judgement, and I think as long as it’s good enough for Michaela to make that sacrifice, surely it is something you would want to join her in, by having your own hair shaved. You are your child’s example/role model. I will keep you in my prayers, as you approach this sacrifice with the courage I know you have.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1366134044 Jennifer Ayars Bush

    First of all, I want to commend your daughter on her sense of empathy for others. The idea that real beauty comes from within oneself through a love of and service to Christ is what needs to be emphasized. Not looks. Although well intentioned, your daughter is keeping the focus on her looks by shaving her head. Cancer patients don’t need someone to shave their head in order to show support. They need prayers, ears to listen to them and words of love and encouragement.

  • Matthew

    As usual, great article. Kudos to Michaela for what she is doing too!

MENU