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I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full wellPsalm 139:14
To be a woman in the 21st century is a blessing but can at times can be a burden. That may be a heavy way to start an article, but a realistic description of how some women feel. There has been a lot of breakthroughs for women over the years, more acknowledgements for inventions and discoveries and more equality in many areas such as job opportunities, leadership roles and pay. However, there still remains one niggling issue that has followed women over centuries and that is social expectations of women pertaining to beauty standards. A woman these days not only has to be a boss at work, manage her home and be a virtuous woman…but on top of all that is expected to be looking 10/10 a majority of the time. This societal expectation can be frustrating, tiring and even dangerous as it can and has caused women to make poor choices just to keep up with the world’s beauty standards.
Nothing New Under the Sun
As King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9 “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” In 1292-1069 B.C. the beauty trend was “slender with a symmetrical face”; in 1837-1901 women were more desirable “plump and full-figured”; in the Roaring Twenties (1920’s) the ideal woman was “flat-chested with a boyish figure” and again 1930-1950 a beautiful woman had “large breasts and curves”! Fast forward to 2000 and the ideal woman needed to have a “flat stomach and inner thigh gap” while more recently it is all about having “large breasts and doing BBL to enhance the bum”! None of the aforementioned beauty standards are new! It’s one continuous cycle, so rather than getting caught up in this vicious cycle, why not actively set yourself apart from those expectations and celebrate how God made you? Understand and nurture your God-given authentic beauty. Now I say this like it is easy, and I understand it is a journey but the first step is appreciating that you are God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). To spend your whole life comparing yourself to a model, your friend, your sister or anyone is a loaded life sentence no one must bear. Comparison steals your joy and peace.
I am what God says I am
So what does the Bible say about beauty?
- “Charm is deceitful and beauty fades; but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.” Proverbs 31:30-31
- “A beautiful woman who lacks discretion is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout.” Proverbs 11:22
- “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair or gold jewelry or fine clothes, but from the inner disposition of your heart, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in God’s sight” 1 Peter 3:3-4
Examples of biblical women who were beautiful in form and character: Esther, Ruth, Rahab, Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of Jesus, Rachel, Deborah, to name a few.
I think this quote captures the essence of what true beauty is “outer beauty attracts, but inner beauty captivates” Kate Angell. As women of God, it is important to groom ourselves and look after our bodies which is our temple BUT it should not stop there, let us also invest in our spiritual growth, character development and intellect so we CAPTIVATE people and LIGHT UP THIS WORLD. As women, we have so much to offer but we must individually do the work, dig deep to find our unique treasure, and share it. Let us not conform to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2) but actively resist and usher in Kingdom standards instead.
Woman, you are beautiful
Tips to affirm your God-Given beauty:
- Be it in your journal, on your mirror or phone, have words or scripture to affirm yourself each day and read it out loud until it is embedded into your soul.
- Social media fast (let your eyes/mind rest).
- Check your friendship groups and their mindset towards beauty.
- Check your motives behind diets/exercise i.e., for improved health OR to look a certain way.
- Challenge unhealthy societal and/or cultural beauty standards.
In a world constantly defining what beauty looks like, smells like, and sounds like- how radical, how audacious, how disruptive would it be to have your own definition of beauty, and choose to live by it daily?