God's Definition of Beauty
So what does the Bible say about beauty? I don't doubt that if you are reading this series you feel the tension between believing you are beautiful in God's sight and yet, because you're made in his image, being able to recognize that some things--and people--are more aesthetically pleasing to the eye than others. This is normal. Women like Sarai, Rebekah, Rachel, Esther are described as being incredibly beautiful, while others like Leah are described as, in essence, coming up wanting. I'll never deny that some women are more beautiful than others if you purely compare pictures. I'll also not pretend that it's only today's modern culture that finds certain women beautiful. Let's just be honest--duh.
But is God more pleased by those whom he has blessed with beauty as the world would see it? For one, while those beautiful women above are described by the Bible as being beautiful in form, it does not specify body type, so we only assume that meant thin a la Blake Lively, nor does it prescribe their form as a goal for anyone else.
Song of Solomon. The bride, whom her husband finds incredibly beautiful, "misses the mark" culturally in some ways. In a society that lauded fair skin, she finds peace in the Lord that she's "dark, but beautiful"(1:5). She knows others see her as unattractive for it (1:6), but her husband quickly reassures her that she's the most beautiful among women (1:8). What I really love is that he lauds his wife's cheeks, eyes, breasts, neck, face, hair, lips, teeth, even the taste under her tongue (all primarily but not exclusively found in chapter 4) and declares her altogether beautiful and without flaw (4:7). He is captivated by her. And yet the imagery he uses could generally be applied by any husband in love with his wife. Perhaps not every woman has all of her teeth or long hair, but his imagery isn't about her tight butt and trim thighs and flat stomach. Women, Jesus gifted us with this truth! What freedom we should find in this, and if your husband isn't captivated by your beauty pray that he would be!
Is Make-Up Sin?
You might be wondering, then, about enhancing your beauty. Does the Bible frown upon make-up or clothes that compliment your body or tweaking your hair color to make you glow? No! Nowhere are these things prohibited. Many, sadly, misuse and abuse 1 Peter 3:1-4, the passage I quoted a few weeks ago in my On Femininity post, to state that to do one's hair or to wear jewelry is sinful for a woman. But if you read carefully you'll see that he only advocates women to not put their identity in their external appearance; external beauty is not the source of genuine beauty. It is a gentle and quiet spirit, respectful and pure conduct, that God finds very precious in the context of marriage and how we treat our husbands.
Ultimately, we as women were created by God, for his glory, and it's all about worshiping Jesus in all we do, and Biblically we're perfectly fine to worship Jesus while wearing MAC lipstick and shoes so cute they break your heart a little, if that's your flair, or in yoga pants and a Seahawks jersey if you're more like me (though I won't deny my own appreciation for good make-up. Ever used the Urban Decay Naked palette? I couldn't do date night without it! I kid, I kid, but for real, I love it!). No matter what you look like, whether you're eating or drinking (or sporting a gorgeous waterfall braid because, praise Jesus, those who say braided hair is forbidden are wrong), glorify God. That is what God finds beautiful, and he'll help you with what it looks like to worship him with regards to your body.
Why You Shouldn't Compare Yourself to Celebrities
A theme of this series, and why I started the entire thing, is that I feel that way, way too often our assessment of ourselves and those around us is measured by the standard we see presented by the world, celebrities in magazines, on red carpets, on TV shows and movies. If you have Pinterest (I have invites, so email me at tami.hagglund.blog [at] gmail [dot] com and I'll send you one!) you NEED to follow this board--it's such a great reminder to me with every new post that my beauty is not based on anyone but what my God and my husband think of me. Below is a great quote I found on that board from Rosario Dawson. I pray it would sink in with you, too.
This wonderful quote, debated as to whether it originated from Teddy Roosevelt or Christian writer Dwight Edwards, is one you should take to heart:
"Comparison is the thief of joy."
I want to recommend to you two other great resources. One is this absolutely wonderful article [EDIT: Link removed, as Mars Hill doesn't exist anymore] about how Jesus is the ultimate source of beauty by a woman whom I deeply respect, Jen Smidt. It fits so well with what I have been saying that I implore you to go read it!
Secondly is this short YouTube video from the brilliant Jean Kilbourne entitled Killing Us Softly, part 4, about "how advertising manipulates women: dangle a computer-created, unattainable standard in front of them to create the self-loathing that sells clothing/skincare/makeup/diet products." I will state that only Jesus Christ is the answer, not simple awareness as Ms. Kilbourne declares. However, we can utilize awareness to help us recognize that God's definition of beautiful has nothing to do with computer imagery, everything to do with our believing that he made us beautiful and sees us as beautiful because of his son Jesus Christ, and best of all the Lord weeps with us over the death wrought on every woman and every daughter and every girl who hates herself because she cannot live up to an impossible standard. Please, run to Jesus. Run to his word. Do not give up this fight.
Tomorrow I'll get very personal and share with you the ways in which the battle is raging in my own life. The next few days are a bit scary, as I'm putting it all out there, but I pray and press on believing Jesus that it's not in vain because I cannot think of a single woman I know who doesn't need to read these words Jesus has been inspiring me to write. Stick with me, catch up if you've been thinking, "Meh, a series, hardly anything about her adorable baby, I'll tune back in when she posts more about him." Please, read these and share them with others. I want to see Jesus have victory!!