My fiancé and I were just talking about this vicious circle that seems to be happening in our culture. There is a desperation for beauty. The desire is not necessarily a bad thing, God created us with the desire to be captivating, but the desperation is what leads to problems.
Desperation has lead to perversions.
The desire to be beautiful has turned into a something based wholly on the physical level. We’ve all heard talk of “inner beauty” but it’s value has been lost over the years in our culture. Beauty of the soul gives light to the eyes and life to the face. It gives character to a smile. Instead of focusing on these things, we focus more on the following: my lips aren’t big enough to pull of red lipstick, I wish my eyes were her color, if only my stomach were flatter, if only my boobs were bigger, I wish I looked more like her, etc.
Because of this, women seek physical affirmation from men, more often than not in sinful ways – flaunting the body, inviting others (single, married, old, young, men, women, children) to look at their bodies with wonder and lust. Or by living sexually promiscuous lives, where they receive their physical affirmation. This is so destructive! What they truly crave affirmation not only of their body, but of who they are. Are they worthy to be loved? Fought for? Pursued? Sought after? Wooed? Romanced? Are they captivating – mind, body, and soul?
The desire to be beautiful has become a competition. Rather than celebrate the beauty of other women, I find myself intimidated by it. To cope with it, I find something about them that I don’t like. It is silly and juvenile. My fiancé points it out to me when I do this because I am trying really hard to end this habit. A beautiful woman will be hosting a show and I’ll say something like “Her hair is bigger every time I see her” or I will mock her voice and try to play THAT off as yucky if I’m desperate. It is so sad that I do this. Instead of celebrating the beauty of God’s other daughters, His other beautiful creations, I find myself in constant competition with them, constantly trying to stay on the top. This desire is mostly related to my fear that Ethan will see something in somebody else that he likes more than the something he sees in me, another thing that we have been working through together.
The danger of this competitive nature is that the clothes keep getting tighter, the shirts get cut lower, the dresses get cut shorter, the plastic surgery industry booms… Women compete so many ways and when physical affirmation is what women seek, the competition becomes who is the most beautiful, the most sexy, the most desirable. This is a dangerous turn for our society.
Ethan and I were just talking about the cycle: a girl grows up wanting to be seen, wanting to be captivating, wanting to know she is worth a fight. She gets into middle school and high school, where the focus becomes clothes, makeup, and looks in general. She is swarmed with cultural crap about the “ideal beauty” of women and feels that she pales in comparison (her vs. Kim Kardashian, her vs. Olivia Wilde, her vs. Megan Fox). Boys rave about the women of hollywood and how hot they are. To get their own attention they adapt – show a little more skin, put on a little more makeup, get some better bras… look older, look more desirable. They invite others to look at them lustfully.
It is a brutal cycle that has lead to some serious perversions and dangers for women everywhere. Sex trafficking has become a HUGE problem. Pornography is an ever-growing and ever-twisting industry that celebrates the use and abuse of a woman’s body as merely a sexual object. If you’re one of those that does not thing adult pornography is all that bad, I encourage you to read this and this. I also want to point out to you that the funding of adult porn goes into the funding of the child pornography business. This is a real and sickening fact. Pornography is not harmless. On the contrary, it is extremely damaging to the soul and clearly leads to sick and twisted things outside of our own experience.
How do we fix this trend in our culture? How the heck do we counteract such a wide-spread, deep-seeded, everywhere-we-turn problem?
1. There is a serious need for modesty in clothing. Ethan brought this to my attention – for guys, girls wearing tight yoga pants or leggings without a shirt that cover the butt and crotch is a free show. It basically shows everybody exactly what your body looks like naked on the lower half, just replace the legging color with a skin tone and bam, there it all is. Expect to be seen and treated as more than flesh. Expect to be sought after, expect to be pursued emotionally and spiritually. Do not be a stumbling block in your brother’s journey (aka do not be a temptress, don’t lure him into lustful thoughts about you, do not tempt him to sin).
2. Call/write to oppose racy advertisements and billboards. Examples: I will be calling my local mall this week to complain about the window poster for Arie of the girl posing in only underpants and a bra. My mom cancelled her subscription to Victoria’s Secret because their shopping brochures/booklets are fairly close to porno mags.
3. Talk to friends and family members about it if they are dressing/behaving provocatively. Maybe you can get to the root problem and help them work through it. Imagine how much good this would do them!! Imagine what a blessing it would be to somebody who struggles with their self-esteem to learn how God sees them and how valuable and beautiful they are to Him.
4. Don’t feed into the physical beauty band wagon. Here’s an example, I will never buy any Kardashian products or watch their shows. I may even be boycotting Victoria’s Secret because a friend recently told me that they make a line of clothes for little girls that say “sexy” on them and yoga pants with words in the butt. I didn’t buy my dad’s Christmas present from a website because on it’s main page there were girls in belly shirts.
5. Learn to celebrate your own individual beauty. God makes no mistakes. You are His masterpiece. Every bit of you. Don’t misunderstand me, wanting to lose weight is not necessarily a bad thing, but why that desire is there is what you need to be aware of. Keeping that desire in check is also crucial. Our body is our temple and we should take care of it, but we should not obsess over it or idolize the body we are striving for.
6. Learn to celebrate the beauty of others instead of competing. If we celebrated instead of competed, if we were uplifting rather than judgmental and critical, what a difference it would make to all women. Ask God to help you focus on and see the beauty He sees and created in every woman.