In a world full of social media models, plastic surgery and a multitude of different face filters serving as a temporary antidote to our deepest insecurities, I find myself asking the question; what is beauty really, and how can it be obtained?
I am often complimented for my looks, which is pretty overwhelming for someone who used to be called ugly as a kid. I find myself taking in their compliments and stepping into an added layer of confidence for a couple of hours, until the day is gone, my makeup is off and another day emerges. I’ve realized that, in many ways, beauty has turned into something I want to obtain for the validation of others, rather than a pleasant bonus to who I am as a person. The pressure to maintain this beauty overshadows the idea that beauty comes from the inside and has created a fear of losing this admiration.
Compliments are of course nice, and I am a believer in “keeping yourself up” and putting in effort into your overall wellbeing, taking care of yourself, working out and doing things that will benefit you in the long run. But in our self absorbed, surface obsessed society, how can we truly cultivate emotional, spiritual and true inner beauty among ourselves when beauty has became such a shallow matter?
1 Peter 3:3–4 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
This is one of my favorite bible verses since “the unfading beauty” Implies that outer beauty indeed is fleeting, but inner beauty is unfading. Hence, attaching too much of your self worth to your appearance will ultimately, at some point, cause you misery. Why? Because just as material possessions, we won’t bring our bodies with us when we die. What we’ll bring is the love, wisdom, relationships and experiences from this lifetime. And who wouldn’t want to die truly beautiful?
What we’ll bring is the love, wisdom, relationships and experiences from this lifetime. And who wouldn’t want to die truly beautiful?
So, with that said, outer beauty is great and a blessing from God, but it should not exceed the beauty of the soul, nor distract us from developing and nurturing good qualities within ourselves. Sometimes beauty can serve as an inviting door into the soul, and sometimes it can distract from the soul completely, and overshadow the person behind the face. Similarly, we can miss out on incredible human beings by ruling them out based on their physical attractiveness not fitting into the norms of our society.
We can keep changing our appearances with makeup, clothes or even plastic surgery, but funny enough this won’t make us feel more beautiful. It all serves as an illusion of self-love but what it really creates is an addiction to changing ourselves for temporary validation, from others and from ourselves. It’s a dopamine kick.
If we only regard ourselves as beautiful when we change ourselves in different ways, we will associate beauty with something that we naturally are not, which will not make us truly feel beautiful.
So, how can we feel beautiful in the 21st century? Here are some of my conclusions:
- Know that God is your creator and he loves you and created you just as you are for a reason
- View beauty as a bonus to who you are, not the thing making who you are
- Spend time doing things that will cultivate your soul (ex praying, being creative, spending time with loved ones, being in nature)
- Don’t let a moment of technology define your beauty, for it is impossible for a photo to capture the essence of who you are
- Be receptive to compliments, don’t push them away, but don’t let them define who you are
- Give give give! By giving to others we receive treasures for the soul and help create a world of kindness, love and generosity. Help someone out, spend time with elders or kids, volunteer in a homeless shelter etc
- Do things that benefit your mind, body and soul, such as working out, eating healthy and prioritizing self-care in your everyday routine. In that way you can take care of your outer self and your inner self at the same time
- Make sure to make time doing the things that you love, for in doing so, you will gradually improve which in turn will boost your self-esteem
- If you struggle to be seen without makeup or the newest clothes, take small steps in going out without those things. Challenge yourself to keep your posture up, shine your light, converse with people and see where it leads you
- Do not seek validation from others. This is hard, trust me I know, but validation is a drug that needs to be refilled wheres the love you build from within grounds your self love in the things that matter
In the best case scenario we will all grow old one day. Looks will inevitably fade but if we nurture our inner beings and the world around us, we don’t have to. I pray that we can start putting more effort into the beauty that never fades — the inner beauty of our souls.
Thank you for reading. Blessings!