Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Women: Designed for Beauty?

So at last we turn to the unavoidable topic of women, in this brief series on beauty. As I mentioned in the last post, the word is beauty is somewhat synonymous with the image of a young, pretty women. According to the world we live in, the ultimate representation of beauty is a woman. So why is this? Why do women long to be beautiful?

The answer, according to some Christians, is that God designed and created women in order to manifest beauty. According to John and Stasi Eldredge,

She is the crescendo, the final, astonishing work of God. Woman.
In one last flourish creation comes to a finish not with Adam,
but with Eve... Given the way creation unfolds, how it builds to
ever higher and higher works of art, can there be any doubt that
Eve is the crown of creation? Not an afterthought. Not a nice
addition like an ornament on a tree. She is God's final touch, his
piece de resistance... Look out across the earth and say to yourselves,
'The whole, vast world is incomplete without me. Creation reached its zenith in me...There is something uniquely magnificent and powerful about a woman. We tried to reveal the immeasurable dignity, the holiness of your feminine heart by showing that it is God who longs for is God who reveals beauty as essential to life. You are the image bearer of this God. That is why you long for those things too. There is a radiance hidden in your heart that the world desperately needs...she is captivating, uniquely glorious, and he cannot be. She is the incarnation of the Beauty of God. More than anything else in all creation, she embodies the glory of God. She allures the world to God.

-- selected quotes from Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul

In other words, God designed The Woman to reflect his image and likeness in a unique way, to make known and reveal the Beauty of God. Women are beautiful because God is beautiful.

As wonderful and empowering as this might sound, not all agree with proposal. Of course, some without faith in the Christian God might simply suggest that the attractiveness of women has something to do with biological evolution. But beauty transcends sexual attraction, and in my mind is something entirely else. However other Christians have critiqued this beauty theology. For example Shawna R. B. Atteberry, a pastor and writer, blogs thus:

We live in a society that idolatrizes its version of beauty to the extent that girls and women suffer from various eating disorders in order to try to be “beautiful.” I do not believe this is the advice Christian authors should be giving to their readers...this is a finicky femininity. I also think it is a dangerous one. The church should be giving a different view of beauty, and what makes a woman beautiful. Although they encourage women not to listen to the culture, it sound like in the end the Eldredge's buy into culture’s definition of “beauty.”
-- blog post: What is Beauty?

Whilst Shawna has a point, I do wonder if she is throwing the baby our with the proverbial bathwater. Yes, as I recently blogged, young girls do suffer eating disorders, but this is because they are trying to lose weight. Here we see a rhetorical slight-of-hand. The Eldredge's said nothing about skinny girls. On the contrary, if young girls could learn that they are beautiful in God's eyes, and they are to display his beauty and celebrate their femininity, that would surely prevent all this weight-loss nonsense. You see, the problem with the contemporary culture is not that it teaches girls that they should be beautiful, but that it constantly tells them that they are not beautiful yet, because they are too fat one minute and too skinny the next. It also prescribes a very narrow vision of what physical feminine beauty is.

Therefore, for the avoidance of doubt, let me say what I believe: God created all women to be beautiful and to radiate His glory, in body, mind, soul, character, personality, and spirit. This has nothing to with physical preferences (short, tall, skinny, slim, curvy, fat, blonde, brunette, whatever!).

There's so much more to say on this topic but I think I've said enough for now. Perhaps my readers can keep the debate going.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Beauty Conspiracy

"I will put hostility between the Serpent and the Woman" (Gen 3:16a). Ever since the dawn of humanity women have been oppressed by a forces of society and culture which are ultimately controlled and influenced by dark forces beyond our ken. One major battleground today in the Western world concerns the topic of beauty.

I typed in beauty into Google's image search, in order to see what sort of beautiful imagery would come out. Out of the 20 images which came back, 19 were of women. The word "beauty" in today's society seems to be synonymous with women. Indeed, we could be more specific and say its young pretty women, primarily Caucasian, that seem to be associated with the word beauty. If you do a regular Google search, most of the results concern cosmetics and make-up. Therefore I conclude that the beauty on the web is primarily about young women using cosmetics to look more attractive.

It really saddens to me see what the Western world and Media have done to women. It more than saddens me, it actually makes me angry if I stop to think about. Why is the media hell-bent on destroying the self-esteem of women? Continually, whether you buy a men's magazine, a women's magazine, or any type of magazine for that matter, our senses are assaulted with touched-up, brushed-up, artificial images of women. Many of you have probably seen the Dove video, but to clarify what I'm talking about, you can watch it below:

I also hate how the Media seems obsessed with skinny girls. Most men I know do not voice a preference for skinny girls. Its getting to the point where my eyes are hurting from watching gaunt near-death looking "celebrities". Its one of the many places in culture and society where the media do not represent the views of the majority. In fact, the media rarely does. Noam Chomsky has been banging on about this for years. The Media represents the opinion of an elite group in society who have their own interests, desires and preferences. This group, in my opinion, have little virtue to speak of, and unfortunately influence and control a lot of the world. Just think how much control the Western world is under when it comes to issues of the self-esteem of young women. In fact, the super-modelling world, which is my opinion is almost completely in the domain of darkness, is just completely out of it. These days a women who would be considered normal is now a "plus-size model". WTF???

So now ladies who are perfectly fit and normal and created by the hand of God are "plus-size". And that's meant to be a positive message? Excuse me whilst I puke.

So WTF is wrong with the modelling and fashion industry? I submit to you that one of the problems is that in reality a small number of homosexual men are running the industry, and it is their desires and aspirations which are flowing down to the catwalks, and in turn shaping the mindsets and self-image of millions of women and young girls around the world. Now before I get lynched, let me clarify that I am not saying that someone is evil or wrong because they are gay or lesbian. Neither am I saying that this is the only or root-problem with the industry. But according to a recent article in The Times newspaper:

"The fashion industry is 70% gay men, and their opinion far outweighs the 30% of women and straight men,” says another international stylist. “Projecting that little-boy fantasy is one that gay designers go back to more and more.” It’s the straight men who are pushing for a healthier vision of beauty.
The Latest Modelling Look: Sacrificial Virgin

Now I am sure there are plenty of gay men and lesbians that have a positive and healthy vision of beauty. But the problem is that the the people calling the shots in the fashion industry do not. As a direct consequence of their sexuality they prefer the girls to look pre-pubescent, under-developed, and boyish. This is completely and utterly wrong.

Nancy Hayssen, a "plus-size" model (i.e. a normal looking girl) has blogged on this very topic.

Ladies, women, girls, listen up: we have been deceived...Men don’t like sticks or bones. Men like women who have some softness to their bodies, a curve or two or three...most of the fashion industry today is controlled by GAY MEN. Seriously. Now, that’s no complaint about gayness...What do gay men know about female beauty and sexuality? Are you trying to get gay men to look at you and say you’re beautiful, or do you prefer straight ones?

Again, to clarify, this is not an anti-gay rant. Rather, I believe Nancy is saying that young women should not be trying to look like what the Media says a women should look like, since that look is basically defined by a small number of warped-minded gay fashion experts, who know nothing about femininity or about what a regular guy finds attractive.

I'll leave you with another Dove vid. "Enjoy".