What is beauty and how do we get it?

Beauty. The world says it’s so many things and unfortunately too often we think we are none of those things. Alessia Cara sits atop the Adult Contemporary chart for Billboard this week with “Scars to your beautiful” trying to speak truth about what beauty really is. Her video includes footage and interviews with people who don’t fit the standard for beautiful. The message is that beauty is a unique and individual thing, not a stereotype nor a classification. Still, given the deluge of images and nearly impossible marks we’re all given to hit to be “beautiful” it’s a constant struggle to find our own definition of beauty. Miss Cara’s lyrics (here) assure us we’re beautiful just the way we are and encourage us toward hope and a confidence that we don’t have to change the way we look. The world’s judgment can be a dark place though. It tells us to praise an image even as we cover our own pain in not achieving that image. Still, the onslaught of perfect people keeps coming. For some that means starving themselves just to be looked upon as having attained the image of what the world calls beautiful although beauty is deeper than the surface. But we all know that, don’t we?

We all know that outward beauty can’t make someone beautiful if what’s inside is ugly. We all know that our individual worth is directly linked to us being the best we can be with whatever look or style or shape we happen to come in. As she says, there’s “no better you than the you that you are, no better life than the life that we’re living” and there’s “no better time for your shine, you’re a star.” But where does that confidence come from and how do we get it for ourselves? The world can be a mean and nasty place and we need something bigger than it to lift us. That something could be God.

We’re assured of our beauty in Song of Solomon 4: 7 where the bible says: “You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way.” We’re told that God doesn’t see things the way the world does in 1 Samuel 16:7 7People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” The advice in 1 Peter 3: 3-4 is “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” And when we say, “But how do I do this and feel this? It’s so hard!” the answer is in Phillippians 4: 13 where we’re told: “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Here’s hoping that you will draw strength and confidence from the Lord against the voices and vagaries of the world.

This whole question of beauty and image is such a huge one in our society today. I hope that the words from the bible helped you find peace about who you are and your own beauty. If you know someone who is struggling with this and think this might help them, please pass it along.

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