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Monday, October 20, 2014

Appearance Matters: Singleness and Beauty

We've been talking a little about getting to know yourself, and why that's important in (and before!) a dating relationship.

When I started this series, I debated whether or not I should cover this topic... since it's been "done" before, and because I think there are lots of great voices out there speaking truth into this issue.

But then I thought of one girl in particular. She's a Facebook friend of mine, as well as a "in real life" friend. So many of her posts are about the fact that she doesn't think she'll ever find a boyfriend. It's not because her standards are impossibly high or she's locked in a high tower somewhere. It's because she thinks she's ugly, unattractive, even that her looks repel guys.

That just hurts my heart. She's a lovely girl, inside and out, and I hate to see her hurt about something like that.

Honestly, though, appearance does matter.

Men are wired to be visual. Looks matter to them. And they matter to us, too! Even though women may not be quite as visually driven, we still have "hunky standards" when it comes to finding a guy. And, of course, we see ourselves. We see ourselves and compare what we see in the mirror with the women all around us. Add that to the fact that we live in a culture that prizes beauty above just about everything else, and it's no wonder that so many women are living in a place of hurt about physical attractiveness.

What does God say about it?

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.- 1 Peter 3:3-4
First and foremost, our beauty should come from a place that won't fade- that doesn't ever "need" Botox or mascara or to just lose a couple pounds.

It's the inside that matters most. And we talked a little about working on who you are inside in some posts earlier in the series:


Even though our beauty should first come from the inside, the Bible is also pretty clear that in a relationship, being attracted to the other person is important. Just check out the steamy book of the Song of Solomon. 

Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
    that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
    and not one among them has lost its young.
Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
    and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
    behind your veil.

Your neck is like the tower of David,
    built in rows of stone;
on it hang a thousand shields,
    all of them shields of warriors.

 Your two breasts are like two fawns,
    twins of a gazelle,
    that graze among the lilies.- Song of Solomon 4:2-5


(Although I don't know that I'd be happy about being told my teeth are like sheep, but whatever.)

We've often been told that it's only the inside that matters and that physical attractiveness shouldn't play any part in our thoughts or relationships or what we think about ourselves. But it does play a part. Appearance matters.* (And beauty points us to God. But that's a different post all together.)

Here's the thing, though.

I have flaws, obviously. Everyone does. Even the girl on the cover of the magazine has flaws (which may or may not have been Photoshopped out... but that's another issue).

My husband has flaws. He doesn't look like an underwear model, he doesn't have a chiseled jaw line. But my goodness, he's so (sooooooo) attractive to me. I am definitely attracted to him (him and his cute butt. Don't tell him I said that). And his imperfections? I see beauty in those, too- beauty that comes because those little flaws are part of who he is.

Being attractive doesn't mean being perfect. 

My husband loves me and is attracted to me, even though I have 20 extra pounds in those love handles, my nose is a little big, I have short legs, and my skin hasn't been great lately.

Because being attractive doesn't mean being perfect. 

Your appearance does matter- it matters because it affects how you feel about yourself, how you present yourself to the world, and if you're called to marriage, your appearance will matter to your future husband.

But we need to get past the idea that "perfection" in terms of appearance is a real thing. It's not. What's attractive to me may not be attractive to you; what is "pretty" to one guy isn't always "pretty" to another. We can't define ourselves by a standard that doesn't exist.

We'll talk a little more about this, okay? (This post is getting really long).

Update: Here's another post about this same topic- 

If you'd like to see more posts in this series, I'd invite you to go ahead and follow me on Facebook, or stay tuned- I'm working on putting all the posts in this series together so they're easier to find. Thanks!

* I think that very often, when we tell girls, or tell ourselves, that the way we look on the outside doesn't matter at all, we're sending the wrong message. I know that I've felt emotions that are tied to my appearance before- I think we all have. Being happy because I think I look good today, being cranky with a new zit... it's something we do!

But when I'm told that the way I look doesn't matter at all, it leads me to feel somewhat guilty that my emotions can be tied, even in a small way, to my appearance. I feel like I'm shallow if I'm happy about a new skirt that makes me feel pretty, and I don't think that's the way it should be.

Of course, my self-worth isn't built on what I'm wearing or my nose or the size pants I wear... but denying that outward appearance matters at all is the other end of the extreme. I choose to fall in the middle.

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