The Faithbook

A place of writing and reflection…

Discovering Real Beauty

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Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
—Proverbs 31: 30

On most Friday nights I usually have one of my Stars girls over for tutoring. During these nights I have her read aloud Scripture, a few chapters at a time followed up by a devotional with questions. (Currently I have her working through the Book of Acts so as to coincide with her current unit in my class on the Holy Spirit.) Occasionally she has been allowed to stay over night, once with her older sister.

On that particular night, while my Star worked on her Bible reading, her sister asked if I could do her hair. (You know how most girly slumber parties work: nails, hair, makeup, games and maybe a movie.)

Now my Star’s sister, Meg, usually prefers dark make-up and punk rock style clothing—something I use to wear, but isn’t completely appropriate for where I currently live and work. Nor is most of it acceptable attire in their school, thus I decided to give Meg a bit of a different look in contrast to what she was use to and yet completely appropriate for school.

While provoking my Star to press on in her reading, I set to work with my over sized curling iron straightening Meg’s hair while she watched me in the mirror. I gave her a rather simple style, with her lengthly hair flipped up at the ends and her bangs pulled back in a clip.

Wanting avoid the punk rock style we both so love, I also gave Meg a different style for makeup. Instead of heavy black liner and dark smokey eyes, I gave her lighter, more neutral browns to work with. Brown eyeliner and mascara, and glittery brown eyeshadows were used to accent her eyes. In place of much darker shades of lip gloss or none at all, I gave her a pearlized one with little color but just enough to make you notice.

Looking in the mirror she said with much surprise, “Wow! I look pretty.” (Well she’s just as pretty without the makeup.)

Mission accomplished? Perhaps, or in the very least the idea of ‘dark’ being the only beautiful has been somewhat scratched in her mind.

Meg, like most girls, has been given the idea that there is only one kind of beautiful and it is dangled before them like a carrot on a string, just out of reach but so close. Sometimes it is seen in the image of some famous singer, the next top model, or some hit designer pushing their look at the hottest.

They tell most of us, “You’re not cool unless you’re wearing this, look like this, have this hair, or weigh this much.

Worst of all, this syndrome affects everybody whether girl or guy, young or old. Think about it. Who’s shoe’s did you see within the past month and say “Oh I’ve got to have those!” Or who’s car did you see and envy the lucky owner knowing your insurance would kill you in charges if you had it? Better yet, what person’s physical appearance suddenly made you feel inadequate of your own?

Growing up, I remember getting picked on a lot for my clothes and chili-bowl style haircut. I even had a teacher in elementary tell me I was “old fashioned” and another kid in junior high ask me why I dressed like a teacher with my mid-calf skirts and panty hose.

Of course at that time it was largely because of my parents and there was nothing wrong with it—it just didn’t meet up with the age old “status que” we use to compare each other with.

In the 70’s it was afro’s and platforms. In the 80’s it was big hair and leggings…and the list goes on.

I remember looking at the ladies in movies and on the news who looked seemingly perfect. They had the perfect hair, gorgeous figures, and attractive faces. But then so did some of the girls I went to school with and of course these girls got all the guys. They got away with the showy clothes and all the expensive brands. It wasn’t anything to hear one of them talk about how she spend $200 or more on one outfit alone.

Myself on the other hand was the plain Jane, slightly over weight, fighting to fit in. How lame was I?

Eventually I talked myself out of it, with God’s help of course. He showed me that though these girls had what I thought was really everything—really wasn’t. The boyfriends and baby mama drama wasn’t worth it in the end.

I knew a girl who thought she had it all, and for a time she did. She was the captain of the cheerleading team and dating the most popular guy on the basketball team. She was also one of the most popular girls in our senior class with one of the highest grades. Then things took a turn for the worst. In the end she was pregnant before graduation, had give up her spot on the cheerleading team and lost out with the guy she was seeing.

Yet even knowing that doesn’t mean I still wasn’t tempted to look at those girls and envy what they had. I had to remind myself it didn’t matter what kind of make up I wore, what brand of jeans I bought or how cute my shirt was. I was me and no matter how much I changed me I wasn’t going to please many people—nor could I.

Gradually, my attitude toward myself began to change. I didn’t waste all my time dreading the smart remarks about my clothes, though there were still some that bothered me.

I couldn’t stay focused on how cute I looked to everybody else as I was growing in my involvement with my church and ministry, but I didn’t let myself walk out of the house in trashy sweats and a T-shirt either. I still had to be presentable.

While working at Goodwill a co-worker told me, “You know, you can take the ugliest stuff and make it look cute.” And I did—it just wasn’t my focus.

When I moved, I had a friend tell me, “My whole life I never thought us bigger girls could really look nice till I met you.”

But then again I had to learn a hard lesson: It’s not so much about the outside as it is the inside. We hear this a lot, but we rarely see it played out on modern culture.

The Bible paints for us the perfect picture for us women in Proverbs 31:10-31. In it a king advises his son on the type of woman who’s always the smart choice to marry—or to even just be around.

She is trust worthy, and doesn’t spite her husband when he gets under her skin. She’s no backstabber. She’s a pro at shopping and gets a head start on the day; always willing to set her hands at something new. Everything she makes and does is the talk of the town. She helps those around her that have a need. She always plans ahead. Her husband is repeated in part of how she treats him. Her children respect her, and don’t sit all day in front of the video games. And most of all she doesn’t discount herself or her work and is realistic about her expectations. She knows what she is cacpable of.

Now how is that for a woman?

I remember the first time I read it as a youth I said, “That’s one awesome lady, but I could never be her.”

Yet I have steadily grown in that direction.

Now am I perfect? No! Far from it.

Do I always plan ahead? No. Do I jump into every task ready to tackle it? Not always. In fact there are those jobs I flat out dread. Shopping? Well that depends on what state I’m in. Nor am I always punctual. Then again, I’m still working on that patience area too.

On the other hand, I’m usually on call for the thrift store in my community as well as to other people around me whether it be house sitting or cleaning. The jewelry I make was always popular back home and I have a feeling it will soon pick up again. My sisters would go to the store and compare what I had made them as Christmas or birthday gifts to the stuff in the store—and they always came back wanting me to make them something else! Even where I live now, one of the ladies has dubbed me as her ‘personal invite person’ for her invitations to different events.

Even though I’m not the perfect woman described in Proverbs 31, I can still strive for it and strive I shall—with God’s help of course.

Copyright The Faith Book 2011

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