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Rebecca St. James: True Beauty

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Rebecca Says: Since you were a little girl, the quest to be beautiful has bombarded you at every turn. From children’s stories such as “Sleeping Beauty” and “The Ugly Duckling” that you read to the Barbie dolls that you played with to the comments such as “She’s darling” or “What a pretty little girl you are” that you heard—face it, beauty has become an all-consuming priority! Now that you are a teen, you are under even more pressure to be beautiful. TV, movies, and music tell you that if you want to be beautiful you have to look a certain way, dress a certain way, and have a certain type of body.

I have played the comparison game too. This is an embarrassing confession, but once I recall tearing out a magazine ad that pictured a girl standing beside a car. She looked like what I thought I wanted to look like. She had toned arms, a slim figure, and beautiful, full hair. I kept this picture with me to supposedly help me achieve my goal. But I realized pretty quickly that this was only negative, that it was making me feel even more discontented with the unique way God created me. Basically, I was coveting what someone else had—which amounts to breaking one of the Ten Commandments. The other problem with comparing ourselves to other people—especially people in magazines—is that often these images aren’t even realistic. With today’s technology, most pictures are doctored to erase flaws or even shave off inches. And most models weigh less than what is considered healthy for their height.

Beauty Jail
We’ve all looked in the mirror only to see a face that didn’t measure up to the current standards of beauty, and we’ve ended up feeling discouraged.

Can you think of anything or any THINGS to fill in this blank?
“I hate my _____________!”

Sometimes you need to take a closer look to see just how extreme your discontent and dislike of your physical body has become.

Are you obsessing about your looks? Take our Beauty Quiz and find out.

Beauty by the Book
The Bible was way ahead of us in exposing the beauty myth for what it is. It points out the vanity, danger, and temporary quality of mere personal attractions and instead calls attention to the higher and more permanent beauties of mind, character, and personality.

It’s called outward versus inward beauty. The Book puts it this way:

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within.

Yeah, But . . .
• I won’t be accepted for who I am.
• I will still be compared to others and not measure up.
• People judge me by how I look before they get to know me.
• Other: ________________________

We know you’ve heard this talk about the inside package versus the outside package before. But our guess is that none of it has yet to change your beauty response. And we know you’re probably thinking, Inside beauty? Try telling that to the guys. They avoid describing us on the outside by saying we’ve “got a great personality” or we’re “really nice.”

The Bible is not saying that the outer appearance doesn’t matter. It’s saying:

Don’t be concerned about the outer beauty.

Don’t let it define you. Don’t let it cause you undue stress. Don’t make it your most important priority. Don’t let it replace the more important parts of your life.
Outer beauty is nothing more than packaging. And unless the inner content is good, too, the outer display won’t make any lasting difference.

Do be known for the inner beauty.

Outer beauty is the first impression someone gets of you; inner beauty is the second and lasting impression. We call it holistic beauty, and it’s real, honest, and lasting. It reveals the contents on the inside of the package that enhance the outer. You can’t fake holistic beauty—it’s the way women look, feel, think, and act. It’s the whole beauty shebang!

Get Personal
Yesterday, approximately how many minutes did you spend on your appearance (outer beauty)?

Yesterday, approximately how many minutes did you spend on your relationship with God and with other people (inner beauty)?

Rebecca Says: I once read this article in an Australian devotional, which says a lot about real beauty:

A beauty product company once asked people in a large city to send pictures, along with brief letters, describing the most beautiful woman they knew. Within weeks, thousands of letters came in.

One letter caught the attention of the employees and was soon passed on to the company president. It was written by a boy from a broken home, who lived in a run-down neighborhood. With lots of spelling corrections, an excerpt from his letter read: “A beautiful woman lives down the street from me. I visit her every day. She makes me feel like the most important kid in the world. We play checkers and she listens to my problems. She understands me. When I leave she always yells out the door that she’s proud of me.” The boy ended his letter saying, “This picture shows you that she is the most beautiful woman in the world, and one day I hope I have a wife as pretty as her.”

Intrigued by the letter, the president asked to see the woman’s picture. His secretary handed him the photograph of a smiling, toothless woman, well advanced in years, sitting in a wheelchair. Sparse gray hair was pulled back in a bun. The wrinkles that formed deep furrows on her face were somehow diminished by the twinkle in her eyes.

“We can’t use this woman,” exclaimed this president, smiling. “She would show the world that our products aren’t necessary to be beautiful.”

The Lie: If you’re not supermodel beautiful, then you don’t measure up—you are not enough.

The Truth: You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

God’s Temple
The problem with trying to measure up to the images we see on TV and in movies is that often girls do harmful things to their body. Too many young women are starving themselves or making themselves throw up to try to achieve the look they want. Others cut themselves to get attention, express hurt, or just to feel something. If you or someone you know is dealing with any of these issues, remember that if you are a Christian, your body belongs to God—it is not your own (see ). When you hurt yourself, you hurt him too. During those times when you’re feeling particularly low about your self-image, remind myself that you should be focusing on your God-worth, not your self-worth. You are his treasure, his princes!

SHEism: A truly beautiful SHE is a girl who sees her value as the whole package—through her inward as well as her outward beauty.

Excerpted from: SHE Teen by Rebecca St. James and Lynda Hunter Bjorklund. Copyright © 2005. Published by Tyndale. Used by permission.

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