Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
~ 1 Peter 3 vs 3-4 (NIV)
My Christian folks will probably have my head on the spike for coming up with such a ‘blasphemous’ topic. And no, the title is not a gimmick to lure you into reading this post. It is what has become endemic among certain circles of people and necessitates an urgent redress. In fact, the topic of inner beauty has become so popular that discussions about ‘outward’ or physical beauty almost evokes feelings of disgust.
In case you’re wondering, I wholeheartedly agree with the above Bible verses – 100%. What I don’t agree with however, is the interpretation that some people have made of them. The few that do not misinterpret this scripture either have a complete understanding of what it means or are yet to hear of it. And what is this misinterpretation? It’s the ‘teaching’ that women should not beautify their (outward) bodies so that they can cultivate their inner beauty. This wrongful interpretation distracts from the main message by shifting the focus from true inner beauty to how a girl looks outwardly. Physical adornment (or the lack of it) then becomes the standard by which inner beauty is judged.
According to this (mis)interpretation, a girl who takes time to apply the all the mascara, eye liner, eye shadow, foundation, nail polish and the whatnot and wears the in-vogue outfits coupled with some nice jewelry might as well be on the road to hell! She just cannot be on the path to spiritual maturity. How can she? I once had a female friend who backed her decision to not use any form of beauty enhancement with the above verse!
I daresay that such teaching is false. (Not like I’m affected anyways). What that passage was saying is that women (and men) shouldn’t put their focus on external beauty at the expense of inner beauty. The keyword here is FOCUS. If your spiritual growth is the opportunity cost of beautifying yourself externally, then by all means ditch the external beauty. But I doubt that will ever be the case (only you can answer that for yourself). However, if you can look beautiful inside as well as on the outside, why not go for it? Inner beauty and outward beauty are not mutually exclusive.
Wrapping this off, this post is not in any way a treatise on whether or not you should use makeup or human hair or jewelry. I understand that some religions and denominations forbid the use of certain beauty enhancements and I respect that. But to use the above passage of the Bible as a context for an undignified approach to life or even castigating those who think otherwise is totally unacceptable. It is the same Bible that states that “After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.” Ephesians 5 vs 28-29 (Emphasis mine).
Whatever (physical) beauty means to you, with or without makeup, the point is to make sure that you’re not focused on it at the expense of your spiritual growth. The keyword again – FOCUS.
I am a Brand Strategist and the Author of Musings of an Analytical Mind. A Medical Doctor by training, I love to challenge conventional thinking and am a firm believer in the coexistence of aesthetics and quality. Connect with me on Twitter – @ifeodedere