The Art of Being a Lady: God’s Definition of Femininity {Part II}

A few questions to fire up those brain neurons, because it is, after all, a Monday: Who defines what is considered beautiful or feminine or attractive? What role does physical appearance play in a woman's life? How do we find balance between refining our appearance and refining our character? 

Every culture declares its own definition of femininity or beauty {as one reader was quick to point out in Part I of this series. Ours happens to be a beauty-obsessed culture with a multi-billion dollar industry to help mold you into society’s definition of femininity, or what is considered attractive. The intent behind The Art of Being a Lady series, however, is to look beyond the surface. The cultural definition of femininity concerns itself with externalities, but as any upstanding woman knows, femininity is expressed through far more than just our physical appearance.

Proverbs 31:30 tells us that beauty is fleeting and charm is deceptive. As 1 Peter 3:3–6 explains, women should be more concerned about their inner person – “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” – than their clothes or hairstyle or jewelry. The Bible also encourages women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety {1 Timothy 2:9}. Proverbs 11:22 further promotes the topic of modesty by comparing a beautiful woman who lacks discretion to a gold ring in a pig’s snout {I believe the original instigator of this discussion would oh-so-eloquently refer to this idea as “slut shaming.”}

I don't know about you, but I {used to} have a bit of a difficult time coming to terms with some of the aforementioned ideas. {Hello, I'm quite partial to pretty things. Catch my not-so-subtle hint?} 

If God is so opposed to us valuing physical appearance then why are there so many positive references to physical beauty in the Bible? Why does God create and value beauty yet is displeased when we do the same? {Genesis 1:31, 1 Peter 3:3–6} Why does God line the streets of heaven with pure gold and precious stones, yet we are not to concern ourselves with adornments or jewelry or display of wealth? {Revelations 21:18–21, 1 Peter 3:3–6} If God doesn’t care about our physical appearance but only looks at our hears, then why did He create such outwardly beautiful people? {1 Samuel 16:7, Genesis 12:11, Genesis 29:17, 2 Samuel 13:1, 2 Samuel 11:2, 1 Samuel 25:3, 1 Kings 1:3, Esther 1:10–11, Job 42:15, Psalm 45:11, Esther 2:7} Why didn’t He make all of us look the same?

The Bible is full of these seemingly contradictory ideas, and the task of interpreting them correctly seems daunting.

Stripped of all preconceived notions, beauty is an inherently good rather than evil concept. Genesis 1:31 shows us that God’s creation is perfect in appearance, function and hierarchy – “And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Other Biblical interpretations say, “And God gazed on all that He had made, and it was very beautiful.” Our very bodies were made in His image and likeness {Genesis 1:27}. God crafted each woman to look exactly as she does, for His own perfect reasons {Jeremiah 1:5}, and in ways we cannot understand, we as women reflect God and the beauty of our Creator. Not only is our physical appearance important to God, but it is also a direct reflection of our character – our physical appearance openly reveals our attitudes toward ourselves, toward others and toward God.

Unfortunately, what is good and beautiful becomes corrupted when it is used for the wrong purposes or with wrong intentions. 

Ask yourself: why is my physical appearance important to me? What role does it play in my life? Is my character {rather than my looks} of more value to me in theory or in practice? 

More specifically, what is my reason for maintaining a certain weight, dressing a certain way, wearing jewelry, makeup, etc.? Does the absence of it all make me feel less of a woman? If so, it may be an indicator of my dependence on externalities to define me as a woman. Taking care of your physical appearance isn't evil, per se; but when it begins to define you as a woman, then you know something is off. Women should humbly be aware of their appearance rather than be defined by it – the entire meaning behind Proverbs 31:30. Same motives principle can be applied to just about anything appearance-related. 

All of the afore-asked questions are rhetorical, but if you wish to discuss, please do so in the comments section, below. You can remain anonymous by signing into Disqus as a "Guest."

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2 Comments

  1. I’m struggling with this now, I want to feel beautiful for my ownsef and adapted into a healthy lifestyle that has taken me away of all chemicals in my life, including make up and all beauty supplies. I like myself more, it’s true but I have a hard time because I don’t feel femenine. I dress discretly and rather minimalistic because I decided to have a small wardrobe and keep it simple. I can’t find a balance even though I’m doing what I wantes because everything outside myself tells me I’m doing the wrong thing. I don’t want to quit as I feel I’m doing it right in my heart except I hate the one in the mirror… Just a long thought…

    • Hi dear, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your honest thoughts. My heart goes out to you, because I’ve been through that struggle myself and still cannot claim to have found that balance you speak of. I believe God’s definition of femininity requires a daily internal battle of not basing our self-worth on our looks, and I don’t necessarily think He requires that we all dress like nuns and boycott all means of improving our physical appearance – as long as your main focus is on improving our hearts.

      Please feel free to email me directly at radionova.oksana@gmail.com if you ever want to chat! I by no means means have it all figured out, but I’ll be happy to hear your heart out, if you ever need someone to talk to! XO

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