According to the documentary Chasing Beauty,
• 25% of young American women would rather win America’s Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize.
• And, 23% of young American women would rather lose the ability to read than lose their figures.
How did we get to this? Culture has been reduced beauty to inspire lust and empower vanity. As women, we look to other women for ideas. We love fashion and entrust our wardrobe to whatever the latest fashion trends are. We are surrounded by images of the ‘perfect body’, everywhere we go from billboards to TV adverts to magazines, it is almost impossible to escape the toxicity of the lies. Popular culture and the mass media have hijacked the authentic definition of beauty.
Pope Paul IV, said, “the world needs beauty, so not to fall into despair.” The world we live in is saturating our minds into thinking we are not enough, we are not beautiful, we need to change this, that, and the other on our bodies in order to be beautiful. Those are the lies of the devil who wants you to doubt yourself. Our earthly bodies are not immune to growing old. Our hearts and soul can grow more beautiful in time as we grow older.
What is beauty?
Beauty is defined by God and God alone. He sets the standard for beauty and gives us clues throughout Scripture as to what defines a beautiful woman. Faith in a loving and forgiving God will be the root of all manifestations of beauty. Physical beauty will fade over time, but true beauty (virtue) is timeless. The Russian existentialist philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev once said, “Beauty will save the world.” If beauty is to save the world, beauty presupposes love, and points in the direction of wisdom.
How can we become more beautiful inwardly?
We become more virtuous and more holy. A virtuous woman is immediately attractive. In response to this virtue, men desire to praise, honor, encourage and cultivate virtue in the woman so possessing it. This is absolutely basic to the affection between men and women. St. Thomas Aquinas, states: “To love is to will the good of another.” As women, we are called to meditate on the greatness of a woman’s mission, by following the footsteps of Our Lady. Mary taught us two rules leading to holiness. One is: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to thy word.” This indicates that the woman’s mission is to let herself be founded by grace — holy receptivity. The second is: “Do whatever he tells you.” There is so much joy when we trust fully in the Lord’s word and when we lead a virtuous life.
Examples of Beauty
There is beauty in integrity
There is beauty in humility
There is beauty in intelligence
There is beauty in simplicity
The Bible says beauty comes from inside a person;
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (Peter 3:3-4). St Mother Teresa was a great example of beauty – why? because she loved, she loved everyone she met, from the tiny orphans in Calcutta to the sick and dying. You could see it in her face, all of those wrinkles and her crooked feet bore the marks of a woman who LIVED life to the full and served others. Her beauty was an image of holiness. She didn’t wear five-inch heels or makeup, but her intense joy and love for the Lord radiated to everyone she met.
Proverbs 31 woman
“She is far more precious than jewels…Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue…Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31)
How can we go from feeling that we are not enough to know in our hearts that we are enough? One of the most difficult things we are called to do as Christians is to love ourselves. It seems like a simple and easy thing to do, but comparison, jealously and envy get in the way. More often instead of being clothed with strength and dignity, we are clothed with frustration, emptiness, and tiredness. Do not let your garments be laying on the floor gathering dust, place them firmly on you, knowing that through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection you are loved and clothed in strength and dignity. Within our families, friends, and communities we can draw strength from those around us in the midst of our weakness. Interestingly, the Proverbs 31 woman is not found in her achievements, but in her reverence for the Lord. She is strength and dignity because she loves and fears the Lord. God looks past her physical beauty and looks into her true inner beauty, the beauty of her precious heart.
When God says you are beautiful, he is talking about your heart and your soul. Your beauty is NOT defined by your physical appearance. If you have been in Christian circles for a while this is not new news to you. You probably have t-shirts saying you are strong and beautiful. Sometimes, the ‘You are Beautiful’ slogans can get a bit frustrating. We really need to dig deep and dive into who defines our beauty, what defines our beauty, and how can we be more beautiful. Our desire for outward beauty should never surpass our desire for inward beauty. “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” – 1 Samuel 16:7
Bishop Robert Barron says, “Beauty is the arrowhead of evangelization.” God’s definition of beauty is resolute.
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornments, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” – 1 Peter 3:3-4
The heart is a doorway into the soul, if we do not possess beauty within our soul, this will show in the way we behave, the way we treat others, etc. The beauty of the soul reflects itself on the face and eyes of a woman, as the beauty on the outside never gets into the soul; it is radiated through the face. A woman’s beauty is an incarnate symbol of heaven, of God’s dwelling place. Beauty is a glimpse into the mind of the creator.