Updated: Aug 21, 2018
By: GRICEL MEDINA
“Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” or so the saying goes. Advertisers tell us a different story. From an early age, women learn that beauty is whatever the magazines tell us it is. No blemishes, no imperfections, no scars, and definitely no wrinkles. Pictures are touched up to the point where we are the perfect specimen of what the world wants and says we need to become. It is no wonder we have young girls in puberty getting nose jobs and other cosmetic surgeries, mothers running to the plastic surgeons to look like their teenage daughters, and women paralyzing their faces with Botox. Cosmetic companies are telling us the latest and greatest cream will turn back the clock, which, of course, is always ticking for women, but not so much for men. Women are scrutinized more and more until many of them become increasingly self-conscious. It is no wonder the drug industry makes a lot of money out of our anxiety to be perfect in every way.
Expectations of Women
Women do have it harder. If you are single, then you need to get married. If you’re married, then you must have children. If you have children, they must be good kids or else you are to blame. You have to be the perfect wife, the immaculate housekeeper, the best cook, the awesome baker, the most involved parent, and be the prettiest woman on the block. We are expected to have perfect hair, perfect nails, perfect everything. Perfection never messes up. Failure is prohibited in a perfect world. But this is not possible.
Women are dying with all the stress. Heart attacks are on the rise for women, so is high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cancer. Perfection is killing us. Women also are also suffering from depression and other mental health issues such as obsessive-compulsive behaviors. The unrealistic and unachievable expectations place a heavy burden on the body and mind of women.
In a world of addictive behaviors, we have become numb to the brokenness that perfection is causing. We no longer know or want to know what it feels like to walk in someone else's shoes. This affects other areas of our lives as well. We often just show our good side and never reveal our vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Others are never privileged to know the real person we are behind the many veils we wear. Churches become another hiding place where we pretend we have it all together. This is costing us more than we realize. God never meant for us to be anesthetized to our own brokenness. To feel empathy is to feel pain, the pain of those around us and the pain that is within us. We often forget that not everything in life is supposed to be peaches and cream.
Our Expectations of Others
Our world is filled with pain, suffering, tragedy, grief, inexplicably offensive and systemic injustices all that can take a toll on our soul and spirit. We cannot run from pain. Painful situations are inevitable, but there is hope and grace in Christ. When we expect perfection of ourselves, we are often intolerant of the imperfections of other people. We lose our intuitive interfacing with our humanity and that of others. We lose compassion and empathy, which are so vital to keeping us grounded in humility We must not allow perfectionism to create a void that is dysfunctional.
Accept Who You Are
Much of our lives are spent trying to improve ourselves only to be disappointed in this impossible quest. Instead we are better served accepting our limitations, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. When we realize that we can never be perfect, we can truly embrace an amazing grace that will daily sustain us throughout our journey on this earth. We will also become better versions of ourselves without the shackles of perfection binding our souls.
Who Determines Beauty?
So, the question remains who really determines beauty? Is it perfection or is it the sacred word that tells us in Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns.” There is nothing more beautiful than the good news of the gospel and the feet of those who bring the message of peace and salvation. So, the next time you look in the mirror and are tempted to look and reflect on all your many flaws, don’t forget that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and you are viewed by a God who created you with a purpose and a plan, a loving and gracious God who knows you are not perfect, but loves you just the same. God will use you to do mighty things despite your limitations and your many imperfections. God uses imperfect beings to do extraordinary things to confound earthly wisdom. Therefore, go ahead and let go of the need to be perfect. Light shines through in beautiful ways through broken and stained glass.