Lately I’ve been wrestling with the idea of physical beauty. It seems like it’s an all-or-nothing quest: prioritize physical appearance, or completely rail against it as a shallow pursuit.
But then I look in the mirror thirty seconds after I roll out of bed in the morning and think, Yikes. Applying a bit of make-up isn’t shallow. It’s more of a public service.
I know all the “right” answers to my struggle:
“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Proverbs 16:7b
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
“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.” 1 Peter 3:3-4
I could go on, but I think we’ve got the point.
I noticed something else, though. Despite the message that physical beauty is not the most important thing, an awful lot of women in the Bible were hailed for their physical beauty.
So what do we do with that?
Honestly, I’m not totally sure, other than to believe that physical beauty isn’t necessarily an evil thing and maybe has its place…as long as that place is not at the tippy-top of our priority lists.
But here’s one way I’ve started to look at it.
I’ve started to see it as a gift to my husband.
I know that this is a touchy subject, especially now as we wrestle with things like rape culture and misogyny and we label women as too sexy for the simple reason that they were created with breasts larger than we think is appropriate, like it was somehow their fault and it’s wrong.
So please don’t think this is the only reason why women should be okay with physical beauty – because their men like it.
But just as things don’t have to be one-hundred-percent-one-way-or-the-other, I believe I can prioritize physical appearance as a gift for my husband without it being misogynistic. Here’s how.
- It’s not a requirement. My husband is called to love me unconditionally no matter what I look like. And believe me, I’ve gone to Lowe’s with him plenty of times while wearing extra-large sweatpants with holes in the legs and fuzzy slippers on my feet. But I can’t help but think he appreciates it a little more when the woman he’s with is put together a bit better.
- It’s not a demand. Actually, in my home, it’s not even a request. Over the course of our eleven years of marriage my weight has fluctuated 40 pounds, and my husband has never, ever said an unkind word about either my weight or my appearance on my – ahem – less-than-perfect days.
- It’s like any other of the “little gifts” we give our spouses simply out of respect and courtesy. I know my husband hates it when the house is a disaster. So I try to keep on top of things as best I can. He hates the smell of seafood, so I don’t cook it when he’s in the house. Maybe you brew your husband’s coffee in the morning or pack his lunch. These are just little things we do to show love and nurture our relationship in small ways. I think paying attention to physical appearance is just another small “gift” we can give our spouses.
Now, friends who know me personally may be shaking their heads as they read this, because they know that I regularly rock the my-hair-is-up-because-it’s-long-overdue-for-a-shampoo look. Obviously I’m not advocating that we need to look amazing on a daily basis.
I’m just saying that maybe we should take another look at how we view our physical appearance. That we should stop saying it’s not important.
Because yes, what’s on the inside matters more.
But that doesn’t mean we should completely ignore the outside. For many reasons, with one of them being that our husbands just might appreciate it.
How do you approach physical beauty? Have you ever asked your husband how he feels about physical appearance – not as a requirement for his love, but just as a way to show him that you value his thoughts on the matter?