(This review was written a few years ago originally on another blog I had!)
As a female, I am always interested in this topic... being that every girl wants to be beautiful...to be heart stopping and alluring and desirable... it's how God made us...
We worship beauty, society worships beauty.... whether it be a person or something God has created and even more God Himself.
For me, it's not about being all that in everyone's eyes... and I'm pretty sure I speak for most females... it's about captivating your husbands heart with your beauty. It's a longing for someone(one person) to recognise your beauty within and without and appreciate it and commit to it... someone who genuinely thinks you are beautiful even when you're feeling your worst and tells you that. I don't know why we need to hear it so much to believe it - but we do....
That's why women love to dress up, to buy clothes and matching shoes... to be the beauty! Men often misjudge that and our intentions with clothing, assuming our beauty and style of dress is sexually motivated when it isn't. Most women just want to be alluring and beautiful.... and to be told that....not gazed upon in lust, but gazed upon in appreciation.
However in saying that the media has a lot to answer for in this whole area.
I read a book recently called 'Wanting to be her' by Michelle Graham, which challenged societies idealised concept of 'beauty'. Without going into too much detail here, it was revealing how the western culture very much dominates the worldwide beauty industry and therefore dictates what 'beauty' is, the definition of, for example, a 'beautiful woman' or 'the perfect body'. Every girl is all too aware of what those features are and what they lack/how they fall short of that glorified image.
Particularly aimed at women although I know men are also affected increasingly, the media portrays these images constantly meaning teenagers and even children are now struggling with self image problems, bulimia and anorexia. Even in our own culture teenage girls as young as 13 are getting breast implants as a birthday gift from their parents - when they havent even finished growing anyway!!! All the parents are doing is backing up the lies that the media are feeding to their daughter by doing this! They should be reminding her of the beauty she already is!
This is all thanks to photoshopped images creating unrealistic expectations of our bodies that we are expected to conform to. These subtle demands of 'what everyone should look like, or strive to attain, to be considered beautiful' actually ends up like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow… you are never good enough once you get into that cycle. Look at the people that get started on plastic surgery...and keep going!
You just have to look at the magazines to see the pressures the media put on female celebrities, always quick to show people up in the worst light or criticise their appearance in some way...and to the other extreme they are glamourising/objectifying women. Who gives anyone the right to criticise or judge the appearance of others anyway? Why should the media dictate what the standards should be that we conform to?
If God created and He said that it was good...who are we to question that? God says He engraved us on the palm of His hand... each and every one....
How shallow that character and values such as personal integrity, morality and other such virtues have been forgotten and replaced with this ideal appearance of a person that once conformed to will immediately be worshipped by society no matter the rottenness of the soul within.
The impression the media give you is that you'll be successful, desirable and happy once you attain this standard of 'beauty'. That your current status of unhappiness is solely due to your appearance.What kind of message is that?!
The book pointed out how detrimental this is also to those of other cultures, for example, women with afro hair are pressured to have hair weaves put in, so they have 'western silky straight' hair to be considered beautiful. That kind of thing. For them, in a sense they can never attain the westernised standard of beauty because the westernised image worshipped is of western features.
I remember as a teenager always being the friend of the beauty, the friend of the girl all the guys liked and they'd only talk to you to get to her.... In my mind from that young age it wrongly set in stone for me, that as I was, I wasn't pretty enough. I've always been the girl that was the 'best friend' and that's as far as it went... that communicated to me that I must have the beauty on the inside but I wasn't enough on the outside. I naievely believed I had to do my best to conform to the accepted and desirable image for a guy to even look at me. Not realising that a lot of the male attention, I thought I craved, based solely on appearance is negative attention anyway... its based on lust, which is not at all what I expected or wanted. As I've got older, I've learned so much more about that whole area and how guys think, to realise that it really all takes you nowhere. You have to be who you were created to be and not trying to earn acceptance and appreciation through appearance.
I think the challenge is for women to keep a balance. I think there is nothing wrong with wanting to look beautiful, but like everything else in life it must be without obsession and it must not ever be at the detriment of character. True beauty shines from within.... if theres nothing on the inside and you're gorgeous on the outside....it's only an empty shell....
To meet a person with the most beautiful character shining out of him/her.... you don't really even notice their appearance anyway! Focus on appearance alone is shallow.
That book challenged me with how I look at/judge my appearance and how I judge others appearance. We've all been brainwashed by societies values regarding beauty... instead we need to remember that God does not make mistakes, only masterpieces. It's our limited perception/mind sets that blocks us so often from truly appreciating it.
Instead of looking for faults in people's appearance, as the media wants us to do, lets look for beauty in each person both inside and out, because it's there in every one of us....along with the fingerprints of God.