One of my daughter’s favorite places to shop is Ulta. If you’ve never been, it’s like a wonderland of makeup, hair styling, and beauty products. My girl loves makeup. She loves trying new products and new techniques. She watches YouTube tutorials and pays attention to the reviews on products at every price point.
At this point, you may be thinking I’ve successfully raised one of those girls who is obsessed with her appearance.
But the crazy thing is—even with the plethora of products and the mountains of knowledge, more often than not, she doesn’t wear makeup. And her friends are the same way. They have all the tools and information and are certainly capable of applying their makeup to look like models. But most of the time, they don’t even bother.
The Bible talks a lot about appearance. In fact, in the Old Testament many familiar names are described by how they look. For example,
Sarah was very beautiful (Genesis 12:14) as was Rebekah (Genesis 24:16).
Rachel was shapely and beautiful (Genesis 29:17).
Joseph was well-built and handsome (Genesis 39:6).
David had beautiful eyes and a healthy, handsome appearance (1 Samuel 16:12).
Abigail was intelligent and beautiful (1 Samuel 25:3).
Bathsheba was “a very beautiful woman” (2 Samuel 11:2).
David’s daughter Tamar was also described as beautiful (2 Samuel 13:1).
Absalom was the most handsome man in all of Israel (2 Samuel 14:25).
Esther had “a beautiful figure” and was extremely good-looking (Esther 2:7).
WHAT DOES THIS TELL US ABOUT APPEARANCE?
First, I believe it reveals there is nothing wrong with being attractive physically.
Sometimes I think we have tried so hard to reject the world’s notions of beauty that we’ve almost thrown out the baby with the bathwater. There are beautiful people in this world( and, as moms, we know they live with us, right??).
Second, there is nothing wrong with taking time to care for our appearance.
About ten years ago I attended a conference for pastors’ wives. Since Scott was in student ministry at the time and we had a young daughter, I chose to attend a workshop on beauty and modesty. Honestly, I was both shocked and offended by what the facilitator said in the session. She urged women to give no thought to their appearance and said that any time and money spent on physical appearance was at the very least shameful and could also be sinful.
While I understand the wisdom in warning against making physical attractiveness into an idol, in no way do I believe Scripture reveals it is sinful to care about how we look nor is it wrong to invest in our appearance. We must guard against giving our appearance a higher place in our hearts and minds than it warrants according to Scripture. But that isn’t the same as completely ignoring it.
How do we navigate that fine line for ourselves and guide our daughters to do the same?
That’s the $100,000 question, right? None of us wants to raise girls whose primary focus seems to be on outward appearance. What does the Bible say about this important topic?
Let’s look at Esther’s story and identify the lessons we can learn (and then teach our girls) about appearance and beauty.
We must recognize the natural beauty we have as image-bearers of God.
Esther was described as beautiful long before she was brought into the king’s court. There is something inherently beautiful about someone who is unaware of their natural attractiveness, right? But even more, there is something incredibly appealing about girls and women who are walking in their identity as image-bearers of God. We are beautiful because He is beautiful and we are made in His image (Genesis 1:27).
We must understand pretty is as pretty does.
This is one of those lessons my great-grandmother taught me and one I’ve tried to impart to my daughter as well. We all know beautiful people whose appearance is overshadowed by their attitude and actions. Esther, however, was clearly beautiful inside and out. She gained the favor of others (Esther 2:8-9). In the middle of many beautiful women, Esther stood out. I have to believe that had much to do with the way she carried herself and treated others.
We must remember what is inside is always more appealing to the Lord than what is outside.
When given the opportunity to rest in the comfort of her position (a position gained because of her beauty) or use her position to help others, Esther chose to act courageously (Esther 4:16). Whenever I read Esther’s story I am reminded that the most beautiful things we ever do are on behalf of others.
True beauty isn’t found in our appearance. Our truest beauty actually has nothing to do with us—we are all most beautiful when we are most closely aligned with the Lord. When His presence in us outshines anything about ourselves.
That’s what Peter wanted women to understand when he wrote these words:
Don’t let your beauty consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and wearing gold jewelry, but rather what is inside the heart—the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight (1 Peter 3:3-4 CSB).
I’m sure there will be many more excursions into Ulta, Sephora, and the makeup aisles at Target for my daughter and me. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But the most important lesson I want her to know about appearance and beauty is this:
She is made in the image of God and his love for her and her love for others will always be what makes her most attractive.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
It can be easy for our girls (and their moms) to focus on what we see in the mirror in our bathrooms … but God is always more interested in our response to what we see in the mirror of His Word (James 1:22-25).
We need to remember for ourselves and remind our daughter that true beauty is not found in our appearance; rather, we are most attractive when his presence inside us outshines everything else. How are you guiding your daughter to understand how beautiful she is to the Lord?
SOMETHING TO PRAY
Father, help me not focus on what the world says is lovely but instead keep my heart stayed on you. Grant me insight and wisdom to guide my daughter to recognize her truest beauty is that she is made in your image. Open my eyes to opportunities to share this truth with her and by your Spirit give me willingness to walk in it for myself.
1 Peter 3:3-4 “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’”
Colossians 3:12-14 “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”