Our American society today is obsessed with physical beauty. It pressures people to be thinner, fitter, younger, sexier. The plethora of products, treatments, surgeries, pills, crash diets, makeup, and programs designed to change our appearance to fit the impossible standards of “perfection” is vast and ubiquitous. Everywhere you look, be it TV, magazines, the internet, billboards, shopping malls, you will likely see a product or an advertisement for one that promises to firm your butt, moisturize your hair, tighten your face, tone your legs, plump your lips, erase your wrinkles, scars, and freckles, lengthen your lashes, smooth your skin, vaporize your body hair, or magically make your fat disappear. Our pursuit of physical beauty consumes us and becomes an idol in our lives.
One of the biggest reasons for this obsession with physical appearance is that as a society we are losing touch with God. We find our worth in our physical beauty and how attractive we are to other human beings, rather than how attractive our souls are to God. When faith is not present or when it becomes something we think about for an hour on Sundays but do not apply to the rest of our lives, we begin to find our value not in spiritual things, but in physical things. We often begin to equate how “beautiful” we are outwardly with how worthy we are, how important we are, how “good” we are.
We forget that our outward appearance is in no way equated with our spiritual goodness. A verse that many are familiar with, but probably rarely think about or take to heart, is 1 Samuel 16:7: “But the Lord said to Samuel: ‘Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.’” Why are we so caught up with impressing human beings rather than impressing God? Why does our pursuit of physical attractiveness often so consume us and even get in the way of and take precedence over our pursuit for holiness?
Learning to love and accept ourselves and see ourselves as we truly are, that is, wonderful and beautiful creations made in the image of God, is an essential part of Christianity. To insult ourselves is to insult the work of the Creator. Instead, we should strive to think and act and speak as David in Psalm 139:13-14: “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works!”
I used to struggle a lot with my self-esteem, especially with how I felt about my appearance. I still struggle sometimes, but in my journey with Christ I am learning to love and accept myself more and more everyday, and focus more on spiritual beauty instead of physical beauty. Recently I made the following post on Facebook as a step forward in that journey and in accepting myself accompanied by the photo featured along with the post:
“This is me. No filter, no makeup, just woke up–me. I am flawed. I have acne, and stretch marks, and scars, and messy hair, and fat, because I am a human being. Some days that’s hard to accept. Some days I wish I could change my body, make it more “perfect,” more “acceptable.” Some days I want to be anything but me. Some days. But other days I am learning to not critique myself every time I look in the mirror. Other days I am learning to call myself beautiful with no “but.” Other days I am learning to love myself. It has taken me a while to get to this place and there are ups and downs along the way. A few years ago standing in front of the mirror for too long would have brought tears to my eyes. But you know what? Life is too short to be caught up in trying to be “good enough,” trying to be “acceptable,” trying to be “perfect,” when we can never be perfect. Learn to love yourself the way you are. Take care of your body and respect it, don’t abuse it. Be you and love you. It’s not always easy, but it is so worth it.”
As Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” We should not judge people based on their physical appearance, but that includes ourselves. Instead of focusing so much of our energy on our physical appearance (applying makeup, going on crash diets or using diet pills, having cosmetic surgeries or treatments, shopping for just the right clothes), imagine how much we could grow spiritually if instead we focused that energy on growing in holiness. God has created us in his own image and likeness. Although we are sinful, we are wonderful creations of the Almighty, the same God who created the stars in the sky, and we should see ourselves as such.Tags » beauty, Catholic, catholicism, christian, christianity, Distraction, holiness, idolatry, idols, Journey to Holiness, Obsession, Physical Beauty, Spiritual Beauty