More Than Skin Deep
By Leslie Ludy
I once talked with a graphic designer who worked for a major clothing label. “In real-life, no model really looks as perfect as what you see in clothing ads or on catalog covers,” he told us. “We digitally alter her photo. We remove several inches from her waist and thighs. We enhance her chest size. We air-brush her skin.”
I recently read an interview with a famous Victoria’s Secret model who admitted, “Everything about my beauty is fake. From my hair to my nose to my toes—it’s all fake.”
Our world bombards us with an image of feminine beauty that is not even based upon reality. That standard is what we as women are told to pursue, and that image is what guys are told to desire.
In many Christian circles we are told to appreciate our own unique beauty and accept ourselves for who we are. Meanwhile, we are constantly assaulted by a world that insists we aren’t alluring enough—that we need to change our bodies, our clothes, and our personality in order to be more appealing. And the same culture that
trains us as young women to become sexy, sultry, and seductive also trains men to lust after women who possess those traits.
The moment we walk out our front door, we see clusters of guys drooling over any skimpily dressed, well-proportioned female that passes by. We watch them lustfully grin at sultry, bikini-clad models on the covers of magazines. We hear them talk about the incredible bodies of the hottest young singers or actresses on TV. We even catch many of them sneaking frequent peaks at Internet porn.
And pretty soon the message, “you are beautiful the way you are” falls empty and flat. We are told to love ourselves, but all we feel is worthless and ugly.
Some of us buy in to the pressures all around us, desperately trying to change our bodies, starve ourselves, get plastic surgery, get a make-over, go on a diet—do anything in our power to somehow make ourselves appealing to the opposite sex and to the culture. Others give up completely, tossing the idea of beauty to the wind and becoming sloppy, grungy, and guy-like—letting the whole world know that they are sick and tired of the culture’s ridiculous standards for women, and that they couldn’t care less about being pretty or feminine.
Either way, very few young women escape the culture’s relentless agenda with any self-confidence intact. The pressure to meet society’s expectations is literally destroying countless young girls’ lives.
For years, I allowed pop-culture to define my understanding of feminine beauty. I inundated my mind with modern magazines, movies, T.V. and the fashion industry—a world that valued the “Victoria Secret model” look and attitude. I was surrounded by peers who applauded self-obsessed, arrogant, sexually aggressive young women. I tried to venture as close to those standards as possible, while still somehow maintaining my Christianity.
When God overtook my life, He had to rebuild my understanding of feminine beauty. “I have a completely
different pattern for your femininity,” He seemed to say, “One that reflects My glory and not the empty charm of this world.”
When I finally began to discover His pattern for lasting beauty—the empty sensuality of this
world lost all its appeal.
I discovered that when Christ overtakes a woman’s life and transforms her from the inside out—she becomes truly feminine—a picture of elegance, grace, and loveliness blended with sacrificial selfless devotion to her King. She becomes a true lady, carrying herself with poise and confidence, yet deflecting all attention
away from herself and toward Jesus Christ. She is enchantingly mysterious, holding her inner life sacred and guarding her heart with quiet tenacity.
Christ-centered femininity is truly a sight to behold. It’s a beauty that does not draw attention to the
woman, but to Jesus Christ. It’s a radiance that is not dependent upon age, circumstance, or physical enhancements. It’s a loveliness that flows from deep within—the refreshing beauty of Heaven, of a life
transformed from the inside out by Jesus Christ. In 1880, Christina Rosetti wrote:
How beautiful are the arms, which have embraced Christ—the eyes which have gazed upon Christ, the lips which have spoken with Christ, and the feet which have followed Christ.
There is no other path to lasting beauty. To effervesce with captivating loveliness, we must be overtaken by the Author of all true beauty. Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting—but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised. (Prov 31:30)