Today I read the West Australian. There is an article on page 29 entitled, ‘The price of beauty: $10k a year’. The article observed, “Women are spending anywhere from $5000 to $10,000 a year on what are classified as essential beauty services.” This is a lot of money. It made me wonder why this amount of expenditure is considered essential by women. Both of the women interviewed stated that they felt more confident when they had been to a beauty salon and had their hair and make-up done. This seems to be mainly a female issue, but I don’t doubt that many men are also doing the male equivalent of beauty treatments in order to gain confidence.
I have never fallen into the drop dead gorgeous category. As I get older the chances of that happening are getting smaller. Aside from the approved body proportions, the ideal for beauty involves the right cheek bones, large eyes, straight teeth, a large mouth and a high brow line. I have none of these. But I do have some grey hair, love handles and an increasing number of wrinkles. These are not generally considered enhancements to beauty. Unfortunately, very few women measure up to what is considered the ideal. If beauty is the measure of a woman, then it is no surprise that women who have the financial means would spend a large amount of money to try to attain to that ideal.
Yet beauty is fleeting and superficial. It is outward and something the rich have a better chance of obtaining than those who are poor. Is this really the way we should judge the value of a woman? I know that I do not want to be judged on that basis. I have other qualities, like intelligence. An even then, should I be judged by intelligence or success or wealth or social connections? We are born with some things like good cheek bones or intellectual potential. No one gets a choice about those things. Wouldn’t it be better to be judged by something I have a choice about and something that is not superficial?
I would rather be judged by the sort of person I am than what I look like. Do I work hard? Am I trustworthy? Do I keep my word? Am I godly? Am I personable? Do I love other people? Surely these are the kinds of questions that matter when it comes down to whether you would like to be my friend. If the basis of my relationships is simply that I look beautiful according to whatever standard applies to women in 2018, then keeping friendships will be a very hard road. I would need to spend a lot of money to maintain a youthful beauty and that expense could only increase as time goes by. In truth, if you choose not to be my friend on the basis of what I look like, how much money I spend on lipstick and Botox injections, then that is your loss. And if I my only value as a woman was found in beauty, then I would not be worth much.
To the contrary, as I get older I grow more confident in myself as a person, even as my middle expands and my wrinkles grow deeper. I believe this is because I am growing to understand the gospel more deeply as the years go by. The gospel is quite outrageous. The grace of God is so overwhelmingly powerful. My value is not found in anything I was born with or anything I can attain to. It is found in Christ alone. I can never become more valuable than I am already since the value that God places on me has been demonstrated in the cross of Christ. If God sent his beloved only Son to live as a poor man in politically oppressed nation and to die a humiliating and torturous slave’s death on a Roman cross for my sake, then my value is enormous to him.
Thomas Torrance observed, “It is in the Cross of Christ that the utterly astonishing nature of the Love that God is has been fully disclosed, for in refusing to spare his own Son whom he delivered up for us all, God has revealed that He loves us more than he loves himself” (The Christian Doctrine of God, p 5). There is no doubt that God loves his Son and yet he loves me too, so much that he did not hesitate to deliver Christ over to death for my sake and for yours. No amount of money spent on beauty products could make me worth this much. No radical transformation of my facial features could give me the confidence that the knowledge of God’s radical and overwhelming love for me gives to me. The more I learn about that love, the more I can accept myself as I am because I can never be worth more than I am now.