Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Beauty

image

“I don’t think I was born beautiful. I just think I was born me.” Naomi Campbell

In other words what Naomi Campbell is saying is, “I am beautiful.” Are you beautiful? That’s a tough question to answer. If you say no then you sound like you have low self-esteem. If you say yes then it probably has some kind of proviso attached to it, like: I hate my thighs but I have really pretty eyes. Or, I have a perfect nose but really ugly toes.

Hey, that rhymes.

Beauty is not just something that’s been manufactured by L’Oreal or Revlon. Long before the multi-billion dollar beauty and fashion industry was born, women were finding ways to beautify themselves. We all recognise beauty; we long to possess it and long to behold it.[1] I like getting genuine compliments about the way I look, I love watching the sun set while I’m standing on the beach.

I’m convinced that the concept of beauty is not a human (or ‘societal’) construct, it’s something that we have all been hardwired to desire and recognise.
The statement that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” is both true and false [2]. It is true because we all have specific tastes and preferences. But in the ultimate sense it is false. If you have a box of faeces delivered to you from a loved one, you’re not going to put them into a vase and display them on your table. What about a bunch of flowers? You’d even add water to keep them alive; unless you agree with Outkast that roses smell like poo poo. The point here is that a concept of objective beauty does exist – let’s personify her and name her True beauty. She is complex and mysterious but she is real.

True is the embodiment of ultimate beauty and every person is in search of her. In our search we encounter imposters who resemble True, but are a perversion of who she is. Let’s look at some examples. Eros beauty is probably the most powerful of our imposters. Sometimes she’s in the club grinding, most of the time she’s on your TV brandishing her sexual power. She appeals to both men and women, she sells clothes and cars and albums. Women want to be her; men want to be with her. Eros tells us that beauty is sexuality but it is so much more than that.

Then there’s White beauty – we see her everywhere, we know her well but we don’t like to talk about her because she is controversial and divisive. And yet she ought to unify us because every woman of every colour is doing everything they can to be just like her. White sets an unattainable standard of beauty and has us chasing fantasies:

My skin’s too dark so I lighten it
Weave my hair so it falls just so
Extend, relax and straighten it
Pray to Jesus, “Lord, make it grow!”

Facing off against White is Black beauty. She is dark, natural and ‘ethnic’. Black is beautiful.  Those 3 words are a full sentence but are not the full story. Bill Cosby said, “It isn’t a matter of black is beautiful as much as it is white is not all that’s beautiful.” I agree with him. Black tells me that it’s okay not to be white (contrary to what I’ve thought for most of my life), but by defining things outwardly, she falls into the same trap that White does. Black beauty is shallow and leaves many questions unanswered.

Right on cue, Self-Defined beauty walks in stage left and in a loud voice declares: “It’s not my responsibility to be beautiful. I’m not alive for that purpose. My existence is not about how desirable you find me.”[3] She is the one who appeals to me the most. She is alternative, untethered and non-conformist. Self-Defined is appealing because she is free of people’s opinions of her, she can do what she wants. She thinks that she is free but the reality is that she is only as free as her own ability to see the truth. Self-defined beauty is a slave to her own imperfect sense of self.

But True beauty points to a perfectly beautiful God.

“I have asked one thing from LORD; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the LORD…” Psalm 27:4

Isn’t it profound that God is beautiful? It blows my mind! God is not just strong, wise and kind, he is beautiful to look at. Genesis says that human beings were created in the image of God, so if God is beautiful that means that we are reflections of His beauty. I find this both encouraging and challenging. I feel encouraged firstly because my longing to be beautiful is not evil, it is godly. I’m also encouraged to know that I was created to reflect God, not Naomi Campbell! But I feel challenged because unlike what Self-Defined says, part of my purpose is being beautiful, not for men or women, but for God.

“Your beauty should not consist of outward things [like] elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes; instead, [it should consist of] the hidden person of the heart…” 1 Peter 3:3

In other words, “Man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) When God looks at us He’s not saying “Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline.” He judges us according to what’s going on inside. Later in the passage, Sarah is mentioned as an example of this inward beauty “which is very valuable in God’s eyes.”(1 Peter 3:4) Sarah was a very physically beautiful woman. In fact, she was so beautiful that Abraham was afraid that the Egyptians would kill him if he told them she was his wife.

Your turn:

Outwardly, you may be a woman who is very beautiful but the question is, how beautiful are you on the inside?

What does inward beauty look like, any ideas?

Honey love
Shula xoxo

[1] M Bickle The Seven Longings of the Human Heart.

[2]D.A Horner “Is Beauty In the Eye of the Beholder?” The Apologetics Study Bible.

[3] Quote by Warsan Shire.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Beauty

  1. Beauty is being trustworthy, desiring and doing good for other people, beauty isn’t afraid to use her hands, to be productive, desiring to make the best possible thing from anything she touches. Beauty is a quiet but ever present strength, the kind that knows restraint and humility but knows she possesses a power within her. Beauty inside is perceptive and prepared, she has an open heart- sees the people who are in need or hurting or lacking- and after she opens her heart, she opens her purse (or clutch, or snake skin bag- you know- whatever it is that chicks carry around these days). Beauty understands the wisdom of golden silence over the necessity of silver speech. Beauty does not concern herself with being afraid BUT she fears the Lord. Beauty is joy and kindness and continually reminds herself that summed up she is here to love God and love people; reminds herself until she naturally always responds in love.
    Xx

    Like

What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s