What is beauty? How do you define it?
Since the beginning of mankind, womankind has been obsessed with the pursuit of superficial beauty. A rare few have had the wisdom to pursue inner beauty instead of or in addition to this. Contrary to popular belief, I don't think the desperate pursuit of physical beauty is always vanity-related. Sure, it can often spring from a selfish, narcissistic character - but I don't think it's as simple as that.
Who doesn't love beautiful things? Who isn't a passionate admirer of beauty? It could be in a landscape, a ray of light, a painting, a flower, a strain of music, a pretty girl. Whether it's a stunning landscape or a stunning woman, the general reaction is to stare dumbstruck for a few moments. :-) There are echoes of the Creator in all of this - both in the existence of beautiful things, and in our ability to admire those aforesaid things. We are made in His image. Do you think a frog takes any particular joy in looking at a waterlily covered in dewdrops, or a delicate spray of ferns? Only humans have the ability to recognise and appreciate beauty.
Does anyone remember this post I wrote a few months ago? The gist of it was that I sometimes get an odd, depressed feeling when I see the same old shabby houses in a shabby corner of town, and there is absolutely nothing I can do to "beautify" them! I think the same can be true of our attitude toward our bodies. We see some "flaw", some (in our opinion) ugly feature that needs to be fixed or covered up! We all tend to turn up our noses in disdain at the mere mention of plastic surgery, but I think I can partly understand why plastic surgery can be so addictive for some women (or men, in some cases!). The possibility of correcting something "wrong" with your appearance (bear in mind that showing any sign of ageing is seen as seriously "wrong" in our culture,) must be very tempting, and once you start, I can understand that it would be hard to stop - and hard to know when to stop.
Speaking as a woman, I can say that a major motivator for women in trying to keep up an attractive appearance is to bring pleasure to others, not just to feel good about yourself or puffing up your vanity. If you're married, you want to look good for your husband, and if you're single, you want to look pleasant and pretty - but hopefully without the intention of drawing inappropriate attention to your body. Modesty really is a heart issue. If you seek all your self-worth through the admiration of others, there's obviously a problem somewhere! But do you get what I'm trying to say? The desire to make yourself look pleasant is not necessarily vanity-related. I'm not sure if this is all making sense, so I'll move on. . .
I don't think it's wrong to dress attractively (but modestly, please!), to style your hair, or wear makeup (though I don't wear it myself). By all means, make the most of what you've got. But don't ever forget about the beauty of the human spirit. Don't forget about cultivating inner peace and beautiful character traits. If you're stressed, angry, complaining, and discontented on the inside, it will show. Equally so, if you're contented, at peace, and happy on the inside, it will show. If you cherish a genuine love and concern for the people around you, that will make you more beautiful than anything else could: even if you feel you are UGLY (and personally I'm convinced that very, very few people are genuinely "ugly" - there's always some good feature or other!), by the time someone has known you for 30 seconds, in their eyes you will be one of the most beautiful people they know. Have you ever noticed that you practically never think about whether your parents or other close family members or friends are "ugly"? Your mum and dad have (I pray!) cared for you and loved you to the best of their ability, and to you, what they look like on the outside doesn't matter in the least.
This is all a major challenge for myself, too!! Oh well. . . over the course of my lifetime I can at least endeavour to live up to some of my fine words voiced in the above paragraph. . .
I don't want to get legalistic about these things - each woman must act according to her own personal convictions - but what are your thoughts on cosmetic surgery? Botox injections? Colouring your hair? Are you okay with some or all of these things? Or do you perhaps even think it is morally questionable to alter your appearance in such a way - to tamper, as it were, with the way God has made you?