We shared in 92/444 about ‘Knowing Your Spouse’s Question’. Ben then shared about a man’s question in 94/444 being ‘Do I have what it takes?’. Today, I’ll begin to share about a woman’s question, ‘Do you think I’m beautiful?’. I will warn you now, it’s a topic I’m very passionate about, as I have worked through this material with many women individually and have facilitated several groups using the book Do You Think I'm Beautiful by Angela Thomas (a HIGHLY recommended read for EVERY woman!).
This really is a two-part question. It’s not all about outer beauty. It’s not all about inner beauty. It is the mysterious combination of both that make us truly beautiful beyond compare. Today, we focus on outer beauty.
Several years ago, Dove (yes, the soap people) did a global study of 3200 women aged 18-64 across 10 countries. A “study was commissioned by Dove to further the global understanding of women, beauty and well-being and the relationship between them. It had its genesis in a growing concern that portrayals of female beauty in popular culture were helping to perpetuate an idea of beauty that was neither authentic nor attainable. Dove was concerned that this limited portrayal of beauty was preventing women from recognizing and enjoying beauty in themselves and others.”
This study showed that beautiful is not a word women willingly associate with themselves. Only 2% of women around the world choose beautiful to describe their looks. This is true across all age groups. When this study was revisited in 2011 only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. The study asserts that "‘Beauty’ and ‘physical attractiveness’ are treated as largely synonymous and are seen as highly valued by society, but at the same time rendered almost impossible to attain."
Much of this skewed perception can be attributed to how beauty is portrayed in popular culture and the media. If you want a vivid example of just how this happens, watch the Dove Evolution video to see just how much manipulation is done to the images of already beautiful women to make them even ‘more’ beautiful, supposedly nearing perfection. This portrayed perfection leaves many of us feeling as though we will never measure up in the pretty skin and pretty hair department. It leaves us feeling less than beautiful and just plain old less than.
My own personal struggles have been significant in this mysterious topic of beauty. As a young girl, I rarely felt pretty let alone beautiful. I was an awkward, skinny, knock-kneed tomboy of a girl with long stringy hair that would rather race you in a 100-yard-dash than spend time in front of a mirror making sure my hair wasn’t sticking up where it wasn’t supposed to (quite a challenge with a scalp full of cowlicks!). As a teenager, I still rarely felt pretty let alone beautiful. My attempts at beauty were most often met with invitations to go parking on a dusty country road with a makeout session in the back seat. Huh…that didn’t leave me feeling very beautiful. As an adult I was still searching for that elusive beauty when a guy came around that spoke what felt like beauty to the seemingly unlovely parts of my soul. Yep, same-old, same-old situation as when I was a teenager. Fast forward to post-affair healing…I began to see that there is true beauty about me although it is still a struggle to believe. (Just like the father in Mark 9:24 my soul screams 'I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!') In light of my struggle, it is interesting that I have been told by numerous people, including many strangers, that I have beautiful skin. Even now, as I approach 50 and feel that the wrinkles and age spots are making quite a ruckus on my face, it still happens. Just the other day in the cafeteria line at work a complete stranger in line behind me said, ‘You have beautiful skin.’ Do you know what my immediate reaction was (after modestly mumbling an almost inaudible ‘thank you’)? My immediate thought was, ‘Why would she say that? I don’t feel very beautiful.’
So this is not just my struggle, this is not just your struggle…this is our struggle. And guys, I imagine you’re thinking, how does this apply to our relationship? Well, gentlemen, you have great power to encourage or discourage. We want to know that you think that we are beautiful, inside and out. When we make an effort (and yes ladies, it is important to put forth the effort), please at least notice. Please encourage us with kind words. And a ‘hubba-hubba’ now and then feels pretty darn good. :-)
Next time we talk about beauty, we’ll consider ‘Is it okay to be saved and sexy?’
Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church – a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Ephesians 5:25-26