We tend to think that what is considered beautiful in today’s culture is pretty standard. But it is not. I am going to share some of the changes in what is considered beautiful through the ages and in different cultures.
- In 1950’s “ideal” dress size for a woman was 12-14 (which Marilyn Monroe was), today it is 2-4 (which almost no one is!).
- For 1000 years wealthy women in China had their feet broken and bound to achieve very tiny feet. 10% of the women died from infection, many lost toes and they lived in constant and continual pain throughout their lives.
- Victorian women sought to be as pale as possible, often poisoning themselves with lead-based make-up.
- Tribal women in Burma had rings placed on their necks to give the elongated look, but they didn’t actually lengthen the neck – they pushed down on the collarbone and causing deformaties – even death if the rings were ever removed.
- The Suri women in Ethiopia have their lower teeth removed at puberty to make room for the piercings in their lower lip that will allow plates to be placed in.
- Some cultures tatoo women’s faces while others cut and scar their bodies – all in the name of beauty
- Greeks had a mathematical standard of what beauty looked like
- In the middle ages and Renaissance periods plump women were considered very attractive and desirable.
- In our culture of excessive thinness and rejection of aging, we see many eating disorders and women mutilating themselves with plastic surgeries – sometimes to the point of completely changing their looks altogether.
From all of this we see that the standards of beauty the world holds are MANY, VARIED and often DANGEROUS! What does this tell us about how WE should live our lives and how WE should view beauty?
I think first and foremost we must look to the INNER person – who is God recreating us to be? Do we purely reflect the image of the Son? Does our countenance glow with the glory of God? Do we allow the vanities of the world to pass us by as we develop the inward qualities of the heart which WILL affect the image others see in our faces?
Or are we looking to a standard that will change within our lifetime (possibly more than once) and leave us empty and unsatisfied? Let’s let the Lord’s beauty fill us – and reflect His glory to all those who behold our faces!!
(images courtesy of brian503a/photobucket CC, luminousmoon96/photobucket CC, Corrie ten Boom museum, by permission)