Monday, June 21, 2010


I recently attended a seminar at my church titled "Redefining Beauty". They kept on advertising it & I knew I needed to go. When hubby offered to watch little J so I could go I jumped on the offer.

You see, this is an area I have struggled with my whole life. Since I was a young child I knew I wanted to grow up & have a perfect, beautiful body. I am by nature a perfectionist, so I am sure this only adds to the issue. I remember as a child seeing the Barbizon TV commercials & they would say "train to be a model or just look like one" I knew I didn't want to BE one, but I sure did want to LOOK like one.

I have heard over & over that if you have a daughter you need to be at peace with yourself physically or else you pass those issues on to your daughter. Even if you think you are hiding it from her you really aren't. My entire life I watched my mother (& also older sister) be on an endless stream of fad diets. They were never happy or satisfied with themselves. I am quite sure this did affect me. I can remember my sister telling me to just wait til I was a teenager, that I would be fat & ugly too. This was actually a big fear for me for a lot of years.

I was lucky enough to have a great metabolism & my weight was never much of an issue up until my late 20s. I used to eat & eat & eat all I wanted, whatever I wanted, & I never gained weight. In my late 20s I could still eat more than other people I knew, but I did have to start watching my portions somewhat.

At the age of 19 I started working out & became addicted & have remained that way ever since. But I never started working out in relation to weight or physical appearance. I remember looking at my paternal grandfather. He was the youngest in his family. In his older age all his family & most of his friends had died, he was all alone. I myself am the youngest in my family. It occurred to me that this could end up happening to me also. So I wanted to ensure that I could remain healthy, strong, & independent, into my old age. Even if I don't make it to old age, I want to be healthy & independent for as long as I am here on this earth. That was my motivation for working out.

Of course a few months into my working out I began to notice some drastic changes in my body that I absolutely loved. I also loved the feeling I get after I workout, that rush & extra energy. I ended up totally addicted (& still am) because of all this.

I have never had an eating disorder, thank God. I know a lot of women do in a quest to have a perfect body.

I am sure this desire to perfect & more beautiful than we are doesn't affect ALL women, but I know it affects a lot. I am certainly not alone, even though it's something that people don't like to talk about.

So what did I learn at this seminar? They pointed out that this quest for beauty & improving ourselves has been going on for centuries. They talked about all sorts of old practices--foot binding (to have little dainty feet), putting shards of glass in the eyes (to have sparkly eyes), putting belladonna drops in the eye (to have a doe-eyed look), slathering on makeup that is loaded with lead & other bad ingredients, etc, etc has been going on forever, all with very serious risks. And through all of this women are willing to suffer those risks in the attempt to be more beautiful & perfect.

What amazes me is that I can clearly see this from both sides. I can see how totally insane it was (& still is--plastic surgery & the makeup of today isn't much different). However, being a woman, I can also see it from the perspective of women & how important it is to be perfect & more beautiful.

They talked about how if Barbie was a real person she would be 5'9" & have a BMI of 16.24. She would have a 39" bust, a 18" waist, 33" thighs, & wear a size 3 shoe. Yet this is what little girls play with & see as what they should grow up to look like. Not to mention all the models & actresses we see constantly & everywhere.

In all honesty I can look in the mirror & be totally thrilled with how I look & then see a model in a magazine or an actress on TV & suddenly feel like the ugliest girl in the world & as fat as a cow. I know it sounds insane, but it's true & once again I know I am not alone in this.

The seminar taught us that Satan is the father of lies & has been at the center of doing this to women. Take the thought "I could be beautiful if -----" & fill in the blank & whatever it is is a lie. God has already created us beautiful.

Now that isn't to say to let yourself go completely & not care. We do need to take of ourselves & do the best we can with what we have. It is important to keep in mind that men are visual creatures & we do want to make our husband's happy. (taking care of myself also makes ME happy, but I know this isn't necessarily the case for ALL women)

But the quest for perfection can be pride-inducing & attention-getting. This is not what God wanted. And we should remain modest. When we dress we must ask ourselves if our look says "pure" or "lure" (as in man-bait)? If we dress immodestly & cause a man to sin because of it we will be held accountable for that.

The bottom line is to focus on spiritual beauty more than physical beauty.


Stacey said...

I struggled with this as a teenager, maybe from about the age of 11 or 12 actually, until maybe my early 20's. I remember the Barbazon ad's too--and my thoughts were the same as yours! In my teens, I would wear make-up, always concerned about my appearance. (Not a lot of make-up, but considering that most of my friends didn't wear any at all, maybe seemed like a lot to some.)

But looking back over the years with a different perspective now, I think this was due to 1) typical societal influence on a formative young woman, and 2) (feel this, but can't say for sure)- just the lack of a solid Christian upbringing that would've given my soul/emotions nourishment--I really think that would've made me feel more secure in my self-worth in God, etc., and less vulnerable to secular influence and the prey of the devil (which is, really, one in the same.) (But, of course, I say I can't be sure, only because I realize that kids who *are* brought up with that blessing, due to personality differences or whathave you, maybe still wouldn't have gotten that feeling of self-worth in God, or would rebel, etc, you never know... there's a lot of little gray factors involved--But of course if one *is* raised in a Christian household, it's a lot less likely for that to be the case.)

But, regardless, God has lifted me up, been soooo good to me, and I just thank Him sooo much that I've learned so much (and continuing to learn) & come so far since those teenage/young adult days (glad they're over!)and have grown so much stronger in my relationship with Him through Christ. So grateful that I'm constantly being sanctified even more! :)

I don't wear make-up anymore-- not sure why, no particular reason, I think it just gradually phased out... probably the last time was a few years ago.. lately I've been thinking that maybe I should get back into it (perhaps a little) just to not "let myself go", remaining attractive to the hubby, that sort of thing... so we'll see... It seems nowadays though my "make-up" is simply exercising & eating right--seriously, my face, hair, skin, etc, looks naturally pretty, radiant, shiny, clear, etc--I do notice a difference when I'm taking care of myself.

I bought Michaela this veggie tales dvd recently and it has to do with beauty, hadn't really seen veggie tales before but just got her it (looked good and was on sale), and it's REALLY cute!! It's called "Sweetpea Beauty: a lesson of True Beauty" and has these princess/fairy tale stories on it (Cinderella, Snow White, etc) but all with a different twist--they all in the end relate to what really characterizes beauty (Christian virtues) and how the Father (the King) loves us just the way He created us. Really cool. She really loves watching it. :)

Frau Guten Tag said...

In my teen years I felt like I hid behind my makeup, I felt so ugly that I couldn't possibly be seen without makeup. I would spend hours & hours getting ready (hair, makeup, clothes) just to try to hide my ugliness, hoping no one would still be able to see it or notice it.

But I can honestly say now that I only wear makeup because I like it. It's fun to me & I like the way I look. I do wear less makeup now than ever before, but mostly because I am so sensitive these days. When I went through my MAC phase it really changed me. I already had sensitivities to things, but it got much, much worse while using MAC. I sometimes wish I had never experimented with MAC, but that is also what led me to discover just how unhealthy makeup, soap, lotions, etc really are. I now wear only natural makeup.

Most days I only wear eye liner & mascara & some powder because I'm so oily. But I do enjoy doing my makeup & hair & dressing up, so I look for opportunities to do so & enjoy myself.

I've heard of that veggie tales DVD, it sounded good for girls I thought. Lil J has a few veggie tales DVDs, but he actually prefers a show called Cherub Wings.

Frau Guten Tag said...

By the way, if you were interested in other veggie tales, of the few I have (dont have very many) I would highly recommend "Esther"