We have been talking a lot about beauty in my English class lately.
Because the class is about textual arguments, we dissect ad campaigns offering airbrushed icons of femininity and counter campaigns that attempt to expand the definition of beauty to make it more accessible to women.
A few of the articles we have read draw on the work of evolutionary psychologists to explain that the paradigm of beauty (or attractiveness) is hard-wired into us by natural selection’s shaping of our faculties to hold an affinity for members of the opposite sex whose features happen to coincide with a high fertility rate.
One author suggested that this means the unattainable standard of beauty will remain such – it’s in our genes – and that by striving for it we can develop a better quality of life.
I think that cognitive psychologists would tend to disagree. Certainly they may yield to the assertion that we are influenced by our genes, but they would assert that we have a say over what we value through our cognitive processes.
I have been trying to think about beauty through a biblical lens. Not necessarily is some poignant, philosophical ponders on aesthetics, but just, “what does the Bible say about beauty?”
In the Bible, beauty is neither good nor bad. Beauty is just a noun and beautiful just an adjective.
Some righteous women are called beautiful, as are some evil women.
Physical beauty is not a goal to strive for (which doesn’t mean don’t take care of yourself, there are lots of exhortations to avoid laziness, etc.). Finding worth in our appearance is understood to be the wrong source of joy (the correct source is Jesus).
There is one beauty that is extolled: inner beauty. You can find this in passages of scripture like 1 Peter 3.
Proverbs 31:30 says “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
Finding value in obedience to God is the remedy for our shallow, super-model exalting perspective.
It would help girls overcome eating disorders, etc., to know that to be loved does not mean to look like a celebrity.