My Inner Struggle Over Outer Appearance

I do not usually write about clothes or physical appearance on this blog.

You will not find “What I Wore Wednesday” posts around here. It just isn’t my thing.

But lately, I’ve been thinking about clothes, hair, and make-up, a lot more than usual.

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about Christian women and physical appearance. She shared how she was trying to see herself as God’s creation of beauty. If she truly believed God created her exactly the way He wanted her, she felt she had no business altering her appearance.

And immediately, I felt convicted, and challenged, and defensive, all at once.

Three months after the conversation, I still think of it every time I get ready in the morning. I struggle to figure out exactly what my opinion is about the whole thing. Do I have any business altering my appearance?

There is such a thin line between altering and enhancing beauty. I’m not a big fan of completely altering my appearance, but should I refrain from enhancing, as well?

As my friend talked, I thought about our yard, which was full of large weeds at the time. It’s a big leap, but those weeds are also God’s creation.

Now, I don’t want a yard full of weeds. We have been anxiously waiting for the rain to stop so we could get some sod on our yard before winter. You cannot imagine how giddy I was on the day that beautiful sod finally arrived.

But  God created both grass and weeds. Am I altering or enhancing what He has made when I choose to get rid of the weeds and plant grass?

My friend says that example doesn’t really count – God wants us to care for the Earth, and helping to beautify it is not the same as physical appearance. And she’s right, but sometimes it can help to try to find a comparison which will shed new light on the question.

So, bringing it back to my own physical appearance…

God gave me moody hair. Usually, it is neither straight, nor curly, but something weird in between. I have to put some effort into making it one or the other. If I left my hair alone and exposed it’s moodiness to the world, I’m sure everyone would survive. I might even get used to it.

But I choose to straighten it, because when I do, I don’t have to do much with my hair for about four days, which makes me very happy.

Am I altering what God has created?

I choose to wear a little bit of make-up. I have struggled with my complexion since I was a teenager, and I enjoy covering up the evidence. Whenever the subject comes up, people are surprised to learn that I’m wearing any make-up, so I guess it’s pretty natural-looking.

Am I enhancing or altering?

I’ve never thought it was wrong to put on a little bit of make-up, but one day Kaylia came into the bathroom while I was putting on some eye shadow, and said with a huge smile on her sweet face, “Mommy, can I make my eyebrows pretty, too?!”

My heart hurt as I looked down at her perfectly smooth, chubby cheeks and sparkling eyes, and I could not imagine how anything could possibly make her more beautiful.

Does God feel like that about us?

Is it wrong to have a little bit of fun with hairstyles  or nice clothes?

I can’t figure it out. I never want it to consume my life, and I desire balance.

But God created us to enjoy beauty.

That crazy-perfect woman in Proverbs 31 was “clothed in fine linen and purple.”

Do I get to enjoy the beauty of “fine linen and purple”, or is that going down the slippery path towards materialism and vanity?

I loved this blog post I read recently regarding beauty and vanity:

…I also have my mother’s fear of vanity. Whenever someone comments on how handsome my sons are, I catch myself saying, “I know, it worries me,” instead of, “Thank you,” and I need to stop this. By assigning fear or worry to looks, we give them more power than they deserve.

Why are we afraid? My mum thought beauty could lead to vanity could lead to an eating disorder. So then I got one anyways.

I am learning to celebrate my children in the same way I celebrate a piece of art. I do not fear the beauty found in a sunrise, in mountains, in a cathedral, in a Van Gogh. It’s a beauty that points to a gracious and loving God. So why, then, should I fear it in the flesh?

What does it mean to celebrate beauty in our own physical appearance?

If we’re celebrating it, should we only enjoy it in it’s unaltered form, or is God okay with our desire to dress things up a little bit?

I don’t have the answer to that question, which means…

1) I’ll have to keep wrestling through it


2) I’m hoping you will all comment like crazy, and get some discussion going here, because I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts. I think we could learn from each other. Anyone have some words of wisdom?