In a Pantene shampoo advert aired in the 80’s Kelly Le Brock made this statement “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful”. I am not writing this post because I believe I’m beautiful. If I had to qualify my meaning I suppose I would say, very reluctantly, I am attractive to some. It’s hard to be objective about it because my self-esteem equates thinness with beauty. Not an alarming Anorexic thinness just a slim figure. This is probably because my Father (who could only say he loved me when drunk) used to tell me “You’d be pretty if you lost some weight”. Anyway I’m passable I suppose. I can walk down the street without people openly recoiling at me (well, to my face anyway!”).
I’m not really sure what got me thinking on this subject, other than vanity, but lately I have been wondering how it must feel to be extraordinarily beautiful. A shallow thing for a Christian woman to admit, particularly when we are told “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain”(Pr30:31), but there we are.
Most people in life are not outstandingly beautiful. I know a few women who I think are beautiful but beauty is subjective so my idea of beauty may not be the same as yours. Our idea of beauty is constantly changing too. The Mona Lisa was beautiful to Da Vinci, the fatter women to Reubens, Marilyn Monroe was a beautiful, curvy, vivacious, troubled girl but she would not be accepted by today’s standards because she was a size 16! The 80’s saw the rise of the Supermodel. A clan of tall, impossibly beautiful women, one who famously said “We don’t wake up for less than £10,000 a day”. They were everywhere you looked from music videos, to billboards, to adverts for perfumes, to their own exercise videos. Every generation it seems, has their own idea of beauty.
And we bought into the lie en masse. I had the Cindy Crawford exercise video, even did it quite a few times. It was sheer hard work and I probably looked fitter afterwards but it could not do magic and actually make me look like Cindy. No amount of magic would make me 6 inches taller and a totally different body shape. Today if I had my own personal trainer and chef and beautician it would tidy up my appearance somewhat but it wouldn’t make me beautiful inside.
And this is the thing, you could be absurdly beautiful but an empty shell or average with an amazing personality. There are not many who are both. I’m not saying that there aren’t any.
And who dictates what beauty is anyway? As you get older it changes. When you are a young teenager your idea of beauty is dictated by the programmes you watch, the magazines you read and your own peers. As you age you realise, hopefully, that it is what’s inside that is more important, your personality, the state of your heart and your soul. Other people’s opinions cease to matter so much. You realise that unless you have expensive plastic surgery you can’t really change your appearance that much other than by dieting. Lately there has been a public outcry about the trend for using size zero models on the catwalk. Many of the designers say it’s because the sample sizes are so small but I think it’s because they really believe clothes look better on thin women and some of these women look scarily thin (anorexic to me).
So having said all this what possible advantages could the beautiful woman have? I’m sure it opens some doors for you in life. You may be treated better. You may be able to have anybody you desire. You may be able to earn more money. You may be happier. You may have beautiful progeny. You may feel good about yourself. You may be able to wear whatever you want. But…..
If people are only interested in you for how you look on their arm how long will that last.? Unless you have a personality to sustain the illusion. It’s a sad fact that we judge people by how they look, even in Christian circles although we like to think we’re above such things. Until you know someone as a person you really only see their exterior. Once you know them well, that beautiful exterior may pall and that plainer exterior may shine.
Beauty as they say is in the eye of the beholder but , when we see people we are not only seeing how they look visually. We are looking at them through our own motives and comparisons also. Very few people judge objectively.
If a person is only loved for their appearance or physique what happens when that changes? Life and ageing are cruel. The wrinkles start to appear , the skin loses its elasticity, the hair turns white. In the Hollywood Entertainment industry once you are a woman of a certain age you are shuffled to the back of the queue. It does not matter how skilled you might be as an actress or singer, unless you are prepared to regularly have extensive nip and tucks. The double standard there is men are allowed to age.
I would imagine that beauty, for some, is a curse and a worry. You cannot keep age at bay forever. King Solomon once said “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity”(Eccl.1) and he should know, he had 700 wives and 300 concubines! Just imagine the creams and lotions and powders that all needed. Yet he was wise enough to know (eventually) that beauty didn’t satisfy.
Whether we are beautiful or no, the state of our heart and soul are what’s really important because they are the only part of us that can live on after death. That is why it’s important to spend some time beautifying them . For Christian women this means spending time with our Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally, unlike the world.
I would say there is a disadvantage to being beautiful if you settle for that and neglect the more important things in life.
Till next time.