Our world sees beauty as outward physical perfection. Magazines, tabloids, television, movies, and the internet showcase perfectly shaped fashionable women with flowing waves of glossy hair professionally styled, crowning faces whose makeup is airbrushed flawlessly. The media sets a mental and visual standard of beauty in our culture so lofty that most women can never attain it. This is emotionally stressful. To make it worse, so much of our hard earned cash is spent yearly to, “Be beautiful.” Achieving this standard has driven women to eating disorders, gastric bypasses, liposuction, body sculpting, surgery to take-off weight, diet pills to get slimmer, plastic surgery to enhance some body parts or refine the look of others, Botox injections, chemical peels, hair implants, hair extensions, padded clothing or clothing to make you appear slimmer and, exercise regiments and the drive to eat more healthily are fueled by the media. Looking our best and taking good care of ourselves is important and should be a priority in our lives, but who benefits the most from this media overload? The consumer certainly does not benefit from the effects of stress to attain the next higher standard. Stress is harmful to our mental, and physical health. Why do we do this? Through the years most people have been willing to pay the price for beauty, why?
I love to go shopping as much as the next women. Wearing the current fashion is important to most women, and the shopping experience is fun too. Most girls want to step out in style no matter their age and style preference. Whether its the right pair of jeans, designer work out clothes or the right look to wear for a business presentation, the right outfit makes a statement about the wearer. It must be accessorized with jewelry, shoes and a very expensive designer handbag. Achieving the current look is big business and the customers can never get enough because, well, enough is always changing. The bar is high and not many of us can afford to look like those trendy, well put together women in the glossy pics! Where does that leave the rest of us?
The desire to look young, and beautiful is not new. Beauty and fashion have been rewarded through the years.
Esther, our heroine, was selected as a candidate for queen because of her beauty. The Bible says she had a lovely figure, and was beautiful. Esther’s beauty caused her to be rounded up for one of the most famous beauty pageants in history. The pageant to be queen of the Persian Empire! The Bible doesn’t say how many young women were brought to this pageant, but the Persian Empire had 127 provinces.
Can you imagine the feelings of these young women? They all lived together in the house of women for a year to purify and prepare their outward appearance with beauty treatments, and soaking in Myrrh to make their skin soft. Daily life was one pampering visit to the salon after another. Do you imagine some of those women were ambitious? Do you imagine some of those women were jockeying for position, and confident of the outcome? Do you imagine some of them were taken from their homes unwillingly, and grieved the loss of a normal life? Do you imagine hormones of unknown numbers of women mingling in a confined space? I would think the house of women was stressful and very tense at times.
When a young woman had completed her year of preparation, she was allowed to choose what she wanted to wear before going to the King. Imagine the wardrobe and jewelry available to her! She had one night to impress the King, whom she likely had never seen. Unless she was the one fortunate young woman chosen to be queen, in the morning the young woman was taken to the Harem, never to visit the King again unless called for. Imagine the stress she felt.
I think every woman experiences stress to look her best. Most of us look at media images of beauty and realize we will never reach that standard. But we do our best to look our best. I'll be the first to say it's fun to shop and primp. I enjoy it too, but Girls in today’s society are under so much pressure to have, "The look." Why? The underlying issue is acceptance. Your look either gets you accepted or rejected. No one talks about this, but being accepted is a foundational issue. We clip, and curl our hair in the newest look, wear the latest clothing, manicure our nails in the next faddish design and wear shoes that are in style. The newest look comes in and perfectly good clothing and shoes are discarded. All of this is costly and people are willing to pay for it. I like to be fashionable too but when I prepare my clothing donation for the local charity organization, I know it's wasteful. So please understand that I'm not pointing fingers. I'm a part of the statistics.
It’s unsettling if you take a moment to look at it. We strive and pay for an unattainable standard set by people we don’t even know. We value their opinion so much that we sacrifice to feed the god of beauty. But what does God say about beauty? In my next post I’ll look into the sweetness of God’s word on beauty for His beloved daughters. God has definite and encouraging thoughts about beauty. I’m excited to share them with you!
My Mama said, "Beauty is as beauty does." In a multitude of beautiful women Esther stood out to the people who met her, and was chosen to be queen. Why? What set her apart? I think my Mama was right, and the King was a discerning man! He knew a good woman when he saw one. I've studied the book of Esther for godly clues on this mystery. I can hardly wait to share them with you in my next posts!