In Search of a Beautiful Woman
Standing about five foot six in her shoes, Danielle always felt too tall to be beautiful. Growing up in China she was told a beautiful woman is polite, delicate and unassuming. Not tall.
I’m five foot nine and grew up in England. When I heard Danielle’s story I had to smile. Runway models are often six feet or taller, but here we were on opposite sides of the globe, both counting our height as a liability.
When our family moved to Nigeria, my white-blonde hair caused quite a stir. Back in England, I felt rather ordinary, but suddenly, through African eyes, I was beautiful. My mom remembers strangers coming up to us and patting my head. When she told them my name was Claire, meaning ‘light,’ they would often respond, “Oh, like her hair.”
Is beauty always something exotic, something we don’t see in ourselves?
Does ‘beautiful’ necessarily mean the western ideal? Movies, television and advertising have all tried to sell us on the idea that there is only one way a woman can be beautiful-if she’s young, beautiful and very, very thin. This disqualifies about 99% of the world’s women.
In protest to Hollywood ideals, The Body Shop ran an ad campaign in 1997, saying: “There are three billion women in the world who don’t look like supermodels and only eight who do.”
We know this in our heads, but we have trouble believing it in our hearts. We are so quick to only see thighs, wrinkles or frizzy hair. We are told, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Why do we forget this when looking in the mirror? Should we add a qualifier: Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, as long as I’m not looking at myself?
We go to great extremes to fit the beauty prescription.
In many places, no expense is spared. Even in countries with prevalent poverty, women are willing to go to extreme lengths to achieve the ‘right’ look. In the Philippines, false teeth are quite common. One dentist remembers when braces and retainers first gained popularity in the city, he received several requests to fit retainers onto his patients’ dentures.
Bizarre? Or simply the kind of things we do in pursuit of beauty and ultimately, acceptance? We pluck, we shave, we wrap ourselves in spandex, we wear impractical shoes. We know high heels cause serious damage to backs, legs and feet, but we still wear them. We have convinced ourselves that looking a little thinner, a little taller, a little leaner is worth the pain.
Here’s our logic: Looking beautiful equals being valuable.
Dr Alberto Salinas, a plastic surgeon with 15 years’ experience said: “Half my patients don’t want to feel better, they just want to look better.” Whatever beauty looks like, surely it shouldn’t be such hard work.
After years of struggling with the impossible ideals, I’m finally seeing beauty for what it is. Beautiful is what my dad sees when he looks at his wife of more than 30 years. It’s what I see in the people I love. It’s what I’m learning to see in the mirror. And yes, it’s beautiful.
Take a look at your life. How would you describe it? Contented? Rushed? Exciting? Stressful? Moving forward? Holding back? For many of us it’s all of the above at times. There are things we dream of doing one day, there are things we wish we could forget. In the Bible, it says that Jesus came to make all things new. What would your life look like if you could start over with a clean slate?
Living with hope
If you are looking for peace, there is a way to balance your life. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.
Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.
Is this the life for you?
If you invited Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.