Every day at my office, I have patients coming in with concerns about their physical appearance, things such as wrinkles, stretch marks, acne, moles, and flabby flesh. The beauty business is a multibillion-dollar industry that includes skin, hair, and nail products; cosmetics; perfumes; beauty salons and spas; plastic and cosmetic surgeries; clothing; jewelry; and weight loss products and gyms. Obviously people put a high price tag and a high priority on trying to achieve physical beauty. For some, it can become an obsession.
Unfortunately, we rely on ‘beauty authorities’, such as Hollywood, fashion designers and style experts to define beauty for us. The standards and criteria of beauty set by our society have been manipulated and are wrong, absurd and unrealistic. Our role models have become 20-something starlets and fashion models whose photographs have been carefully orchestrated, airbrushed, Photoshopped and drastically altered. In person, these people do not look like their photos! So, how does the non-celebrity woman compete? She cannot! Women are unduly influenced into negative opinions about themselves and forced to chase an illusion…We must change our perception of beauty and choose realistic role models. We also must abandon the notion that youth is the only path towards beauty. Women must embrace the fact that true beauty does, and must, transcend the decades as we age…We must change these perceptions, attitudes and behavior to make it better for the next generation. We must educate our children to recognize that physical characteristics alone do not make a woman beautiful. We must stop sending the wrong, unhealthy, superficial message to our daughters and granddaughters about the definition of beauty.
Robert Tornambe, M.D., plastic surgeon, writing for the Huffington Post.
I want to suggest some ways which we can improve our attitudes and perceptions of what true beauty is:
1. Embrace your uniqueness and individual physical characteristics as an amazing masterpiece fashioned lovingly by the Creator. Realize that we each have a unique set of genes inherited from our parents that makes us who we are.
2. Take good care this “work of art” by eating healthy foods, staying active, avoiding harmful habits (such as smoking, drugs, excess alcohol, tanning), and getting enough sleep each night. Work on caring for your body instead of comparing your body to others’.
3. Focus on your positive attributes. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). “…take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
4. Encourage one another with affirming and positive words (i.e. “I love the way your smile lights up your face”; “you look so good in that color!”; “you are truly beautiful inside and out!”). “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had” (Romans 15:5). “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
The Dove Campaign asked women from all over the world to define beauty and their findings were interesting:
- 77% strongly agreed that beauty can be achieved through attitude, spirit, and other attributes that have nothing to do with physical appearance.
- 89% strongly agreed that a woman can be beautiful at any age.
- 85% said that every woman has something about her that is beautiful.
Their study also found that two-thirds of women strongly agreed that physical attractiveness is about how one looks, whereas beauty includes much more of who a person is. Women rated happiness, confidence, dignity, and humor as powerful
components of beauty, along with the more traditional attributes of physical appearance, body weight and shape, and even a sense of style.
So let us choose to see the beauty in ourselves and one another each day, focusing on what makes us uniquely beautiful and what is of deep and lasting beauty within us.
1 Samuel 16:7 – But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Psalm 139:14 – I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Proverbs 31:30 – Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised
1 Peter 3:3-4 – Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.