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Allison Althoff
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Natalie Lederhouse
Natalie Lederhouse

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July 13, 2010

A Re-Education on Beauty

Don’t let our culture’s standards define you.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Cebu, Philippines, in order to celebrate my brother’s wedding. My family and I flew in for 10 days, met his soon-to-be-wife, met her family, and wrapped up the trip with their wedding. A whirlwind experience, leaving me several weeks later, still processing the trip. As we traveled around Cebu City and visited other islands, we noticed a trend: eyes staring at us. We learned that the culture associates white skin with beauty, wealth, and celebrity, which sky-rocketed us to the center of attention everywhere we went. I was humbled, embarrassed, and moved by this notion, and through it, was able to view my own culture’s concept of beauty from a distance.

Like our culture, the Filipino culture has taught them how they should look. You see it all over the media—on billboards and local television shows. It’s engrained in them. Though they may have a different concept of beauty from ours, we share the same eternal struggle—unobtainable standards of beauty.

You’ve read articles on beauty, self-image, and self-worth before, so I’m not going to go in-depth here. Do a search on Kyria.com and you’ll find a wealth of articles and wisdom on these issues. However, observing this struggle in the Philippines reminded me to confront my continued struggle of negative self-image.

I compare myself to other women wherever I go, and it’s exhausting. I’m tired of trying to live up to our culture’s standards. Since I’ve been home I’ve been trying to focus on the positive things about myself, instead of continually lingering on what I’m unsatisfied with. I’ve read what the Word tells me about beauty and strength. I’ve even written a list of non-physical attributes about myself that empower me as a woman of Christ. As I continue on this journey of a restored definition of beauty, I’ll learn more. My hope is that as women of Christ we would re-educate ourselves to see our beauty in how God has created us.

What is it that our culture has engrained in you about beauty, and how will you rectify that with what you know about yourself and what the Word tells you?

Related Tags: Beauty; self-image

Comments

I have never heard a message on II Cor. 10:12 where we are told that those who compare themselves amongst themselves are not wise. Has anyone else ever wondered about that?

I believe that God designed women to reflect beauty - spiritually and physically. Whether Christian or not, most women are concerned with their appearance. We are immersed in a culture that has defined the standard of beauty. On most scales, the standards include flawless, bikini -clad bodies, youthfulness and a dress code that is far from modest these days. Regular exposure to this through media and just everyday living makes it an issue that is impossible to escape. So I, like many women do occasionally compare myself to others. However, what I and every woman must embrace is God’s standard of beauty. Standards that include virtue, grace, love, modesty and so on… These are inner qualities that radiate to the outward appearance. We should feel and look good because of who we are in Christ. This leads us to desire the best for ourselves in every area of our lives. My personal goal is to explore opportunities to counteract the superficial message of beauty that currently exists. I believe that it begins with Christian women who will commit to spreading a true, defined message of beauty. It is a message that says, “I look good because I feel good about who I am according to God’s Word” instead of “I look good to feel good” which is a different mind-set altogether. It is something that won’t happen overnight but change can and will begin if we’re willing to start somewhere – in our homes and communities. It is possible – one woman at a time.

Most women, and most of my peers, would think that I am living the dream. I am a young Christian woman currently living in a society that also elevates the attributes of my external appearance-- my hair, skin and eye color all set me apart-- and, as a result, I can't walk down the street without men screaming at me "What God has given" "Oh, my eyes" "Hello, Beautiful!", following me and other ways objectifying me. It took about a day of it to be reoriented with the deep craving I think we all have as women to be looked at and identified as beautiful, but beautiful as a soul and as a spirit. It's been a difficult but beautiful journey to reframe my thought process, so please, keep up the good work and don't give up hope on reframing your concept of beauty! We can all do this together! And, I must add, I think you said it perfectly... we all may have different standards of beauty but "we share the same eternal struggle—unobtainable standards of beauty." Thank goodness we have a different source of beauty to strive for, one that Eternally looks into us, despite our deepest secrets and sins and still says "Hello, Beautiful Daughter. You shine for me today and I love you"

Both this post and the comments left here have been a significant blessing to me. I am very young looking for my age and find that I've gotten into a mindset of trying to keep up this appearance, scrutinizing my clothes, my makeup, my hair style. Then I turn around and think of all the women I trully admire the most and they are all women that are older than me. Not one person I trully admire and deeply respect is because she has an outward beauty even if she does, it isn't for that reason. This reminds me that as I go about submiting before the Lord for Him to do His will in me to make me the beautiful woman He desires both on the inside and out, I've a perpetual journey to lay down my all of me to Him that I pick up His good pleasing and perfect perspective on what makes me the woman I am meant to be.

I am a Filipino and I agree with you, "Don’t let our culture’s standards define you." why most of the people in our country use to criticize you by your outside appearance by our culture’s concept of beauty. I envy those American Culture who has freely and proud on their self what ever they looks like. I even got on a point that I was degrading myself comparing it to others by merely looking at them, my complexion, my height, my face structure.. perhaps I need to have re-education on beauty.

vernice

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