I got my hair cut today--Jessica from work is pretty handy with a sissors and came over with her "equipment". After lunch, it took her an hour to cut and thin out my hair (yes, my hair is that thick). So, it's caused me to think about what we call beauty. A few questions have come to mind throughout the day.
I subscribe to a women's magazine that focuses on health, and pretty much geared to women in their late 20's and early 30's. But the articles are good, well researched and up to date. This month's issue has a feature "Beauty by the Numbers", quoting stats around the world. For instance, did you know that the average American woman spends $39 a month on beauty treatments while the average Italian woman spends $71? That women in Argentina and Canada are the most satisfied with their looks while the Japanese and French women are the least satisfied? That 45 % of women in China wear lipstick all the time?
The overall feeling from the article is that women all over the world care about their looks, and spend money to help enhance their appearence in one way or another. It matters. External beauty, for the most part makes a woman feel as though she has worth, as well as a way for society to assess her worth. This is so universal, it sort of leaves me feeling a bit of despair over it. Is that all a woman is?
Not too long ago, a book came out about God's "sacred romance" with the Church. That the most common myth or story in human history is basically about a hero rescuing a beauty, and that it is a picture of God's love for us. But I've always had a problem with that, too.
For one, it reinforces that only beauty deserves love.
For another, it inadequately explains the fact we don't deserve God's love, but His wrath.
And for another, there is no beauty in us that God desires, because of sin's ruin. He pursued us on the basis of His infinate compassion and pity on us. He will make us beautiful, but that is a work, or a "makeover" if you will, done by sanctification. Beauty, in God, is holiness--a quality that only comes from being joined to Him by faith and nothing we can do on our own.
So, as we long for beauty, and to be beautiful, it is a real longing and not one to dismiss. But to direct that longing towards God in our worship of Him, we throw off the slavery of self pre-occupation in exchange for a freedom in our hearts by the glory of His truth, His glorious Gospel of salvation through Jesus. His compassion towards our pitiful state gives us hope beyond what we look like.