When I was very young, I heard older people talk about a little horse named “Black Beauty.” It seemed to be some sort of icon that illustrated being polite. When I finally read the book, one portion struck me: the colt Black Beauty told the story about his mother’s advice: “I wish you to pay attention to what I am going to say to you. The colts here are outstanding, but they are cart-horse colts, and of course, they have not learned manners. You have been well-bred and well-born; your father has a great name in these parts, and your grandfather won the cup two years at the Newmarket races; your grandmother had the sweetest temper of any horse I ever knew, and I think you have never seen me kick or bite. I hope you will grow up gentle and good and never learn bad ways; do your work with a good will, lift your feet up well when you trot, and never bite or kick even in play.”[1]

That gave the word “beauty” a new context for me. When used for people, we often equate it with physical attractiveness or when used for objects, their design, and function. However, at first-glance, says Dale Archer, a board-certified Psychiatrist, when we meet someone new, our first impression is about looks; only later do things such as personality, intellect, and character start to take on meaning. In collecting data from several countries and cultures, researchers found that beauty is absolutely connected with success – well, at least financial success.

Then, Amy Alkon, who writes a weekly advice column titled, Ask the Advice Goddess, mentions that a vast body of evidence indicates that men and women are biologically and psychologically different and that what heterosexual men and women want in partners directly corresponds to these differences. The features men tend to go for in women – youth, clear skin, a symmetrical face, a shapely body, feminine facial features, an hourglass figure – indicate that a woman would be a healthy, fertile candidate to pass on a man’s genes. These preferences span borders, cultures, and generations, meaning yes, there really are universal standards of beauty.

Most women, says Amy, prefer men who are taller than they are, with symmetrical features. But women across cultures are intent on finding male partners with high status, power, and access to resources – meaning a short guy can add a foot to his height with a private jet, thus looking very handsome.

But broadcast and podcast expert Dr. Rebecca Ray offers that the Psychology of Beauty can be expressed in five ways: 1) Set your own beauty standards. Establish what makes you feel beautiful. You get to wear what makes you feel good. You get to use beauty to honor yourself and how it fits you. 2) Choose the voices you prefer. Listen to the women who lead the charge for authenticity, body positivity, self-acceptance, holistic beauty, and eliminate ridiculous and unattainable standards. 3) Let go of judgment (on yourself and others). All too often, we buy into the media’s rigid expectations about what beauty means and judge ourselves and others when we don’t live up to their expectations. Your beauty is your business. 4) Choose a gentle path to self-approval. The inner voice we are most familiar with is usually the voice that’s critical and condemning, especially when it comes to body image and appearance. Instead, try going gentle on yourself. Try getting in touch with the kind and soft voice inside you. After all, if self-criticism worked, we would all be perfect by now. 5) Practice self-acceptance. Practice accepting yourself for everything you are rather than attacking yourself for everything you’re not. Perfection is impossible, and attempting to attain it is a guaranteed way to feel bad about yourself. That way, you can improve yourself according to the standards you choose.

Simran Khurana, Human resource development and management consultant, stated: Whenever you see a vibrant flower or a peacock majestically strutting his colorful plumes, revere the beauty of nature. Beauty is everywhere. Appreciate the beauty around you while beauty is still in its prime. He offers some notable quotes about beauty.

Joseph Addison: “There is nothing that makes its way more directly to the soul than beauty.”

Leo Tolstoy: “It is amazing how complete the delusion is that beauty is goodness.”

Edmund Burke: “Beauty in distress is much the most affecting beauty.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.”

John Keats: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.”

Henry David Thoreau: “The perception of beauty is a moral test.”

Saint Augustine: “Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.”

But as Christians, what does the Bible say about beauty?

When Samuel was frustrated over King Saul’s behavior and attitude, the Lord told him, “Do not look on his being handsome or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

The Tabernacle choir director heard King David say these words and made them into a hymn. “I praise you, for I am awesomely and beautifully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:14)

King Lemuel’s mother spoke these words: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who reverences the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

King Solomon, as a preacher, said that “God has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The Apostle Peter advised, “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on jewelry, beautiful clothes, or hair arrangement. Be beautiful inside, in your hearts, with the lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit that is precious to God.” (1 Peter 3:3-4)

[1] Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, published in 1877, Part I, Chapter 1

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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