What is Beauty?
Physical beauty will fade over time, but true beauty (virtue) is timeless.
Mothers, did you know that only 2 percent of women would describe themselves as beautiful?1 Are you in that small sampling? Is your daughter in that small sampling? After discussing in depth the lies both we and our daughters have been told regarding the narrow definition of beauty, we are left with the task of redefining beauty. Only then can we pass along a healthy definition to our daughters.
What exactly is beauty? The Dove Campaign asked women and found that:
- Seventy-seven percent strongly agree that beauty can be achieved through attitude, spirit, and other attributes that have nothing to do with physical appearance.
- Eighty-nine percent strongly agree that a woman can be beautiful at any age.
- Eighty-five percent state that every woman has something about her that is beautiful.2
Interestingly, the study found that two-thirds of women strongly agree that physical attractiveness is about how one looks, whereas beauty includes much more of who a person is. Women rate 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.3
Now, stop for a minute and think about it. When you hear (or say) the phrase, "She is beautiful," is it made in reference to what is on the outside or the inside? I find it sad that popular culture and the mass media have hijacked the authentic definition of beauty. Beauty is defined by God and God alone. He sets the standard for beauty and gives us clues throughout Scripture as to what defines a beautiful woman. Unfortunately, the secular definition of beauty given by women in the Dove survey failed to recognize the key component that determines a woman's happiness, confidence, dignity, and humor. That key component, of course, is faith. Just as the Proverbs 31 passage concludes, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised" (Prov. 31:30). Faith in a loving and forgiving God will be the root of any and all manifestations of beauty. Physical beauty will fade over time, but true beauty (virtue) is timeless.
As parents, that's where we come in. Only by pointing out the lies of culture and continually reminding our daughters of God's definition of beauty (virtue) will we stand a chance of protecting our daughters from the culture's inevitable brainwashing. We must be faithful in reminding them that beauty is not defined by a number on the scale, a premanufactured clothing size, an hourglass shape, washboard abs, slender thighs, big boobs, a J-Lo butt, pouty Angelina Jolie lips, a pair of designer low-rise jeans, a cleavage-baring top, a new sassy haircut, a clear complexion, an antiwrinkle cream, or a surgical procedure. While some of the above may garner catcalls from men, they don't impress God in the least.
If we are to engage successfully in the worthy conversation, "You are more than the sum of your parts" with our daughters, we must first do a self-check and make sure we believe it ourselves. For those of us who have been thoroughly brainwashed by the culture over the years, this will be a difficult challenge. And, I dare say, that would likely be the majority of women reading this book! In fact, while in the course of writing this book, I conducted an informal survey of adult women and asked, "Are you satisfied with your body/appearance?" Only a handful of the women answered yes to that question.
While I realize that many women struggle to achieve a healthy weight range and, therefore, may not be satisfied, I was even more concerned with the answers that followed on the next question. "If your weight fluctuates beyond your desired weight range, does it affect your overall happiness?" Even among the women who had previously answered that they were currently satisfied with their body/appearance, most admitted that should their weight fluctuate, like the others who answered the survey, it would impact their overall contentment/happiness. While I hope that this book will help you better engage in the necessary and ongoing conversation with your daughters regarding body image and appearance, I pray that the truths presented will aid you in breaking free from the culture's lies.
In a world that beckons our daughters to grow up far too fast, it's never too soon to begin the conversation with our daughters regarding true beauty in the eyes of God. In the next article I have compiled some key Scripture verses related to appearance and beauty and an example of how you might explain the meaning behind each verse to your daughter. Some are verses I have referenced in preceding chapters, but they bear repeating! Wouldn't it be nice if our girls grew up with the following verses tucked away in their hearts?