We all know the cliché “beauty is in the eye of a beholder.” Although there is some truth to that, we forget that the beholder’s idea of what constitutes beauty is influenced by many factors.
Not too long ago I came across a story of a journalist who endeavored to investigate global ideas of beauty. A raw picture of her face was sent to over 25 countries around the globe. Over 40 photoshop artists “made her beautiful” according to their own ideas of what beauty is. The results were profound. You can find the entire story with the final photoshopped images here.
This was an experiment with a picture of a woman’s face. People from different countries would never agree on definitions of “beautiful” eyes, nose, cheeks, mouth, etc. There can be differences of opinions regarding the subject even between members of the same family…
And what about the “ideal body?” Would the results be the same or different?
What factors influence your perception of beauty?
Do your ideals of beauty dictate your attitude towards others and, most of all, towards yourself?
For instance, do you spend so much time in the gym that there is no time left for spiritual enrichment? Do you make a judgment of an obese person as soon as you see him or her? “Oh, that person is a couch potato. He needs to get off his butt and walk a few steps! That lady should get on a treadmill… Oh, and if she doesn’t have one, or can’t afford a gym membership, there is an overabundance of free sidewalks!”
Do we completely DISMISS the heart and the soul of the human being buried in that “repulsive” body?
I am not negating the problem of obesity. Not at all. I want to start a discussion of how externally imposed ideals influence us, especially the Christian believers, to conduct ourselves in certain ways.
Why is it that we are never satisfied with how we look?
We are always in a race to attain some kind of an ideal… A woman with naturally straight hair desires waves and curls. A woman with naturally curly hair may spend hours on straightening her curls. We wish our eyebrows were more thick. We wish our noses would not be as wide or as big. One woman wants a bigger chest. Another wishes she was smaller in that area because she has trouble finding an appropriately fitting clothing.
We live in a society where lip augmentations and tummy tucks moved to the top of a woman’s birthday wish list. And the men are not an exception. I absolutely need that six pack to attract beautiful women and I will spend hours at the gym to achieve that goal. I need bigger biceps and a smaller waistline. I just need to look like that fitness model and then I am good…
Unfortunately we, as Christian believers, are not exempt from the worldly influence on our perception of beauty… Our brains are trained to focus on the external beauty from the early childhood. We completely ignore the internal condition of the heart… We take these influences into our churches and our interactions with other believers.
A young mother comes to church after having a baby. She looks “great!” Back to her pre-baby weight. The first thing she hears is, “Honey, you look A-MA-ZING!” Another young mom stands within an earshot. She has been struggling with getting back to shape for over a year now after having a baby. What does she hear? She spends the entire service thinking about how she just needs to go on an extended “fast.” Good for the heart and good for the body, right?
The imposed worldly ideals of beauty on Christian believers often stir us to have ridiculous discussions! I remember hearing one young Christian woman musing about how she “feels sorry for those who are ugly because they will be stuck with that face for all eternity…” Another young man was wondering if we will have the same bodily proportions in our resurrected bodies. Too bad for fat believers, if that is the case…
Of course, we should keep our bodies healthy! However, what is the definition of “healthy?” And does an agreed upon definition give us any right to judge others? Because with the immediate pass of judgment, we completely ignore the deep issues of the heart… Is this how we “save the lost?” Is this a way to “encourage others?”
More importantly, if you are a Christian, are you conscious of the external and worldly influences that may affect YOUR walk with the Lord one way or another? I know I struggled in this area. There were days when I did not want to go to church because I simply “felt fat” that day. Or I didn’t want to go to church because I just didn’t feel BEAUTIFUL ENOUGH…
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