Did you watch the video? I hope you watched the video, because it’s pertinent. I have a bone to pick with social media, and it’s not what you think. Not necessarily, anyway. Nearly every time I’m on Tumblr, I see a post that says something like, ‘EVERY PERSON IS BEAUTIFUL.’ And while it elicits a smile and an ‘awww, thanks’ feeling, it falls flat. Because the truth is, not everyone is. Not every person has an hourglass figure, or glossy hair, or full lips or exotic cheekbones. Not everyone has long legs and a swan-like neck, or clear skin and stunning eyes. Some people’s appearances are plain. Not everyone we see makes us go, “Oh, wow. They’re beautiful.” You don’t see signs telling you, “EVERY PERSON HAS A LOVELY SINGING VOICE,” or, “EVERY PERSON SMELLS LIKE FRESH MINT.” You know why? Because it isn’t true. Our society has grown so tired of being forced to try and look like every airbrushed, touched-up magazine cover and movie star that we’ve swung in the opposite direction. They’re trying to convince everyone that they are physically appealing – and it’s a lie. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Not everyone reading this is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
(But you looked so cute in that picture up there, you might say. Well, this is a totally untouched photo my dad took on his phone, of me taking a picture of a display. That’s for another post. This is what I look like on a normal day, without a filter, when I’m caught unawares, not posing or smiling or worrying. I think I look pretty okay.)
And you know what? It’s not important. Because there are two kinds of beauty – inward beauty and outward beauty. As Christians, while I think we should do our best to look beautiful as sons and daughters of the King, I think we tend to put just as much value in our appearance as the world does. It bothers me. Christ didn’t preach beautification of the body, he preached purification of the soul. He didn’t come to earth with the message, “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL” – he came with the message, “YOU ARE VALUED. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD.” Never once in the Bible did Jesus walk up to someone and tell them they were physically appealing. In fact, in His human form, Jesus was plain to look upon.
And I think it helped His ministry. People didn’t see him and become dazzled by his outward appearance – they looked beyond that. I think our society has grown to so worship the outward appearance that people take one look and stop there. ‘Oh, wow, she’s gorgeous; she must be worth my time.’ ‘He’s really cute, I bet he’s a great guy.’ We have kicked inward values to the curb, traded them in for hours in front of the mirror.
Now, I try to look nice, on most days (I happen to be writing this on the day I wore cutoffs and a tee shirt because I wasn’t going anywhere and I wanted to be comfortable, but six days out of seven, I try to look nice). I put on makeup, I do my hair, I wear jewelry. I want to look appealing. I want to think of myself as appealing. But after watching the video above, mom turned to my sister and myself and asked, “So, when do you feel the most beautiful?”
My sister’s reply? “I can’t think of any of those times.”
My sister has a Scarlett Johansson figure, big eyes, and flaming red hair, and she can’t think of a single time she’s truly felt beautiful.
My mom, with the wide smile and beautiful white-gold hair (who I know, for a fact, gets checked out by mature gentlemen when we’re out and about) said that she couldn’t single out a particular time, either.
I was astonished. Do you know why? I’m five foot ten; I’m not petite. I have long limbs that are positioned in such a way that I can’t walk gracefully and think at the same time. My hair doesn’t know what color it wants to be, doesn’t know whether to curl or frizz most days, and my eyes aren’t anything special. My skin isn’t particularly clear, and I have extra weight around my middle, my face, and my upper arms.
And I feel beautiful ninety percent of the time. (I’m not going to mention That Time of the Month because I always feel like a beached whale, but I’m blaming that on hormones.) Granted, there are times I feel more beautiful than others. I feel beautiful when a guy flirts with me across the counter. I feel beautiful when I’m sleeping under nothing but the sheets. I feel beautiful when I’m not thinking about how I look.
We’ve put so much stock on how we look that we’ve decided we are only worth as much as our negative space; that if we have thin lips or frizzy hair or a double chin we aren’t beautiful. We buy into it. We forget to realize that outward beauty is false. It’s going to fade. Some people never have it. But inward beauty transforms how we look. If we’re content, if we’re peaceful, if we’re kind inside, it shines out. Some of the most beautiful people I have ever known were nothing special to look at, but I never looked at their appearance – it shone through their eyes and their actions. People were drawn to them like moths to light.
That’s the kind of beauty God is interested in. Society is interested in how we look, but guess what? It doesn’t mean anything.
Take care of yourself. Take pride in your appearance, but don’t obsess over it. Be who God created you to be, and know that you can get better. Care more about the souls of the people around you than whether your hair looks good. Because beauty is a funny thing, and if you can get it on the inside, people won’t care what you look like. They’ll care about who you are.
But you have to care about it first.