This post is daunting for me. Just as everyone has a different perception of what love looks like, I believe everyone has a different perception of beauty. Touching on beauty is intimidating as it’s a universal, subjective topic.
1 Peter 3:3-4 (MSG) says, “….What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.”
Growing up in the church I’ve heard many “women talks” where this verse was used as the genesis of beauty. Going home from these talks I’d look at my notes and feel as if women are shamed or in need of correcting for focusing on outward beauty in any capacity.
I love beauty products. I love makeup. I love hair products. I lose all sense of time in Sephora and get giddy when people ask for skin care, beauty tips or advice. I’m “that” girl who has watched countless YouTube videos on various beauty channels, has Googled for hours in search of the best ways to curl hair, shape eyebrows and the best way to achieve the “smoky eye.”
Most people don’t know the passion I have for self-care because, unless prompted, I am not going to bring it up and take the risk of coming off as judgmental or superficial. Never would I want someone to leave feeling judged. Whether someone uses Suave (which is made of 50% WAX) or Pureology (100% sulfate free bottle of gold) shampoo, I don’t in the slightest view them differently. This should be a, “duh, and why would you” response, but in reality many have been judged for their self-maintenance and appearance. Personally, I don’t give two cents if you don’t moisturize or invest in a primer – you do you, Boo Boo. But, if you want to invest and it’s an interest to you, I think it’s fun.
Underestimated amounts of people don’t put effort into their appearance for the approval of others, but to personally feel attractive. When I feel refreshed, put together and attractive, I’m able to take the focus off myself and focus on others. I believe others would benefit from doing what they need to do to feel refreshed and “put together” so they subsequently place their focus on others.
I digress. Back to 1 Peter 3.
This verse is saying outward beauty doesn’t equal beauty in the eyes of God. Since Jesus followers should strive to think, live, act, yada yada yada as Jesus, we should acknowledge inner beauty is the indicator for one’s beauty.
A pretty heart is a pretty person, an ugly heart isn’t a pretty person.
Right right riiiiight.
So, what do we do when we meet someone whose source of self-worth seems to be measured by his or her appearance?
Look at their heart. When you know someone is using beauty products and clothing to hide their insecurities, don’t feed into that. Sure, tell someone they look bomb when they look bomb, but when you discern one’s appearance to be their source of self-worth, drop a compliment having nothing to do with their looks.
“You’re so considerate of others.”
“I admire how you handle conflict.”
“You’re stronger than you think.”
“I love your laugh.”
And, alas, this part of the blog is daunting for me.
Who am I to fully know the heart of someone and decide for myself if they need a compliment on their appearance or not?
Ultimately, I don’t. The Bible says God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7), and His command is for us to love others as ourselves (Mark 12:31). I may have discernment and can use discretion when choosing my words, but I should not assume the heart of someone in this area and it isn’t my place to project my observations on others. God looks at the heart and it is my job to believe the best in someone, because ultimately, I don’t know.
So, to tweak my original stance, I believe if you sincerely have a compliment for someone, appearance or otherwise, say it! What do you really have to lose?
When a girl is confident and secure…like, she-goes-to-In-N-Out-with-the-guys-in-a-hoodie-and-no-make-up kind of secure, it’s easier (for me) to tell her she’s beautiful because I sense she isn’t fishing for validation in her looks.
Earlier this year I went to a game night at a friend’s house. I had just come from a deep cleaning facial – my face was red and my hair was oily from the head massage portion. There were seven guys and one other girl. This girl was in a dress, high-heels, red lipstick and had perfectly set curled hair. I looked around the room trying to access which guy she may be crushing on because, honestly, who looks like that to go play Taboo? It didn’t help her case when she said she hadn’t come from anywhere and the game night was her only plan that day.
I don’t know about you, but for years it was easier for me to flatter the girl in a hoodie at In-N-Out than the girl at game night in heels because I didn’t want to feed (in my opinion) an insecure ego.
However, I’ve learned two things. One, girls who come to game night ready to walk the red carpet aren’t necessarily insecure; and if they are, it’s all the more encouraging from them to hear they look great. Secondly, I’m a goon for judging or assuming. I don’t know the kind of day she had, or her story. Maybe her mom called earlier and called her out on her recent weight gain…maybe she was bored and simply wanted to feel pretty…maybe she DID like a guy in the room and wanted to put herself out there. Who knows. All I know is Miss Red Faced with Oily Hair *cough me cough* should seek to find ways to compliment anyone, regardless of red lipstick OR a hoodie.
I was in line at Starbucks last month when a lady in front of me whispered to her friend, “look at those fat rolls on the girl over there…have enough croissants lately?”
They chuckled, I judged.
I judged SO hard I confidently said to the woman, “that is very rude.”
She turned to face me, did a little smirk number, and turned back around. I pressed my lips and a Bible verse came to mind. Luke 6:45 ends with, “…For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
Luke, you know wassup, I thought. This lady’s heart is black and cold all over. She sure could use some sprinkles of niceness.
In that moment I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Mary.”
I mean honestly, how rude can people be?!
Whenever He says my name twice I know I need to stop being dramatic and listen. Too many times I’ve been dramatic and have missed opportunities.
I hear, “sprinkles are a compliment to something already sweet. Since she isn’t sweet, show her an ingredient of sweetness.”
I really wish I went to another Starbucks.
I was not cheerful. My excuse is I hadn’t had my coffee yet.
Since I was the “that was very rude” person to this woman, I knew it would be nearly impossible to have her leave thinking I showed her an “ingredient of sweetness.” I found one genuine thing I liked about her, her nail color. As she was waiting for her drink I said, “I like your nail color.” She did another smirk number, and I internally did a scoff number.
A few seconds later I was at the coffee bar putting honey in my drink when she came to my side and said, “the color is by OPI and it’s called Let Me Bayou A Drink.” Without a beat, I opened my mouth and said, “Wish I could’ve bought yours!”
She was startled, but then genuinely smiled, and left.
I hadn’t judged her beauty or her appearance, I judged her words, which were words judging someone else’s appearance. I didn’t feel convicted by doing so because the Bible says that our words reveal our hearts. Even still, God asked me to be a bigger person and love her in a way I would want to be loved. He then showed how comical He is because of all the names for a nail color to be named, this polish was named “Let Me Bayou a Drink.”
Even though a stranger showed shallowness, God prompted me to show her kindness. My heart was to defend the woman who was unknowingly being picked on, but God loves the victim just as much as he loves the perpetrator. He asks us to extend kindness to all.
I work in the entertainment industry, which in my opinion is the most shallow industry you could be in. God could have created me to look like everyone else, but He didn’t. I’m 6’0″ with a size 6 waist, size 12 pants. My naturally thick thighs save lives by being able to press 400 lbs while the average 5′ nothing LA girl has nightmares over losing her thigh gap.
By the grace of God I grew into my confidence before moving to Hollywood, and I appreciate my height and curves. If I hadn’t, my daily reminders of how different I am from most girls around me would have the power to crush my self-confidence. I have insecurities, as do we all, but I don’t live in the land of “What if” anymore and wonder why God didn’t make me naturally thin like my sisters, or give me an “average” height so I can blend in more. He was intentional, and He loves how He created me.
My definition and measurement of beauty didn’t come from having a body accepted by society, a boy affirming me, or me wearing the newest and latest clothes. I went through LONG seasons of living in comparison with little to no self-confidence. At age 15 God swooped in and engraved truth from the Psalms on my heart, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”
I was transformed. He deposited confidence within my heart and gave me a glimpse of how He sees me. I am beautiful because He says I am beautiful. Receiving a piece of His perspective enabled me to see others as fearfully and wonderfully made, too.
Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. If you find yourself judging someone based on their appearance (as we all are guilty of) or words, I encourage you to ask the Creator how He sees them. This humble approach is stretching, but He created each one of us. Let’s seek beauty in the other person, and seek to draw it out of each other.