In Pursuit of Perfection: Searching for the Body Beautiful
By Jacqueline Moore
For you created my innermost being, you knit me together in my
mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139: 13-14
For centuries, women have been competing with the unrealistic portrayal of beauty as depicted by Hollywood and in the print media. The need to be thinner, younger and in some cases, plumped up in certain areas; has escalated to epidemic proportions.
African-American women have been taught that the darkness of their skin, the fullness of their lips, and the thickness of their waist, are the things that make them unattractive. Their nappy hair is a sign of un-cleanliness and their big noses are a sure sign that they must have descended from apes.
Our Caucasian sisters are also confronted with faulty conditioning by society. They are told to seek a darker complexions, hence the popularity of the "tan body." They run the risk of skin cancers by tanning in the tanning salons and baking their white flesh in the sun. If their lips are not full enough, then they are supposed to have collagen added for fullness. If their hair is curly, they need to straighten it. If their hair is straight, they need perms to make it curly. No matter what their hair color, they are told that blondes have more fun.
In recent years, the desire to become more like the Hollywood caricature has escalated to behavior that is putting our very lives at risk. Eating disorders and plastic surgery, issues that until a few years ago were unheard of, have now spiraled out of control. Bulimia and Anorexia were once words that did not exist in the minds and lives of young women, but now they are as widespread today in our schools as the common cold.
Women of all races are dying everyday from their attempts to become more beautiful.
Gastric bypass surgery, breast augmentation, nose jobs, cheek, and chin implants are becoming commonplace as a means to reshape and redefine who we are. Young girls are starving themselves to death, just to fit it.Hollywood’s image of the beautiful and desirable woman has tainted our perceptions of the acceptable standards of beauty.
Even successful women, who appear to have achieved greatness through their work, are succumbing to the pressures of being in the public eye. Starr Jones and Cher are but two well-known celebrities who have undergone dramatic procedures to improve their looks, while Oprah, Kirstie Alley and Janet Jackson are criticized for gaining even the slightest bit of weight.
We are born into this world, with no preconceived notions about how a person should look. As children, we don’t know to judge others based on their skin color, hair length, how tall or how short they are. We don’t instinctively look at another child and say, she looks different to me. The tendency to judge is not a natural part of our makeup; we teach our children these things. At some point during our childhood, we start judging others by standards we have been taught. We start tearing down one another’s self-esteem. We create doubt in the minds of others on their worthiness. We start going along with the crowd. We start thinking like the crowd instead of thinking for ourselves.
I am not trying to imply there is anything wrong with us making cosmetic changes so that we look better or feel healthier. I have acrylic nails, I wear make-up, and I have had dental work done. However, I did these things to help me feel better about myself, not to be accepted by others. While doing research on this topic, I came across a very interesting passage written by Wade Hodges.
In speaking on the Virtuous Women in one of his sermons, he quoted another passage of scripture from the book of Proverbs. It was from the book of Proverbs, Chapter 11; verse 22. He used the NIV interpretation, which really drove the point home. Proverbs 11; 22 says, like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion. His interpretation stated, don’t get so enamored with the golden ring that you fail to see that it’s stuck in a pigs nose.” In other words, don’t let the beauty fool you. Beauty is fleeting, charm is deceitful, don’t be led astray by such things.Self-acceptance is the real beauty secret.
Jacqueline (Jackie) Moore is a Christian writer of non-fiction and fiction. She is currently working on publishing her first fiction book Serving Justice and has written a nonfiction book on "Virtuous Women" from which she has developed a workshop/seminar.
Jackie is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in religion at Liberty University and offers spiritual words of encouragement daily on her website www.virtuousliving.com. She and her two sons, James and Joseph reside in Detroit, Michigan.