I’ve been thinking a lot about beauty, and have found myself with some new perspectives.
For one, women are beautiful, every single one of them. They are not all beautiful in the mind of a Cosmo photographer, or a movie caster, or even in most of our own culturally conditioned eyes (let’s be honest). Yet in the few moments when I can set aside those lies and listen for the truth, then I see it—every woman bears within her a unique and God-given beauty of the kind that runs much deeper than some shallow cultural categorization. Now, the fact that all women are beautiful may not sound too much like a new perspective to some people, because we may say it a lot. God, however, desires for us to see and truly believe it.
Still, that has not been the most eye opening part of this time for me. What has rocked my world is that I am beginning to believe that every woman knows she’s beautiful.
What!? That’s preposterous! Anyone who has listened in on a few conversations between women on the topic of beauty probably feels like they have proof to the exact opposite effect. Women (myself included) judge their own beauty and that of others mercilessly. We are vicious! We put ourselves down. We cast critical glances. We compare and envy and are never quite satisfied. We sound like we all believe in our core that we are far from beautiful, and we grieve.
Yes, we do grieve. More and more, however, I don’t think it is because we don’t think we are beautiful. Like I said, I think it’s because we know we are.
The thing about a woman’s beauty is that it is meant to be drawn out and fostered. A father and mother, friends (and particularly guy friends), a husband, a community —and above all a healthy understanding of God—are meant to draw out and actualize the incredible beauty that resides within every woman. One teaches her the right ways to accentuate that beauty physically (how to stay healthy, how to dress in an appropriate yet flattering way), another impresses upon her the value of her purity and the fact that her sexuality is a gift to be guarded, while others draw out the particularly feminine part of her spirit and affirm its great worth. In all of this, a woman feels that the beauty God has created in her is being beckoned to the surface, to be truly seen and to bring glory to God. Indeed, a woman who humbly and truly knows her beauty brings glory to the creativity and artistry of her God.
Yet most women’s beauty remains in hiding, either broken or simply undiscovered. They throw themselves at men who promise to call out that beauty, yet who only call out what image of beauty best suits them—usually right in line with the cultural concept that crushes the heart of a woman. They under-eat in the hopes that the hidden beauty will begin to show as their ribs do, or they over-eat in the hopes that the broken beauty will at least be insulated by comfort. They dress in clothes too tight or woefully baggy, they act like ditzes or over-accentuate the masculine side of themselves. They are doing whatever they can to cope with the fact that they contain a loveliness that they fear will either never be restored, or will never be drawn out in the first place. They know they are beautiful—and they know that beauty is lying inside of them, wasting away.
And so we grieve…I grieve. Not because of a beauty that is lacking. But because of one whose true depths I fear will forever remain unseen.