Just when you think American television could not get any worse, we outdo ourselves once more. Recently I was stunned to discover a new reality show called Bridalplasty. The premise of the show is that a group of brides to-be compete for free plastic surgery before their wedding. The girls participate in games where they are rewarded such things as “injection parties.” What is disturbing about this show is the number of women who appear so disgruntled with their appearance. Despite the fact that they are engaged to men who find them beautiful, they still refer to themselves as ugly and in drastic need of improvement. The fact that the grooms have partaken in this nonsense is utterly revolting.
The question of whether this show is horrifying or entertaining was posed recently on CNN. The consensus of the all-women panel was neither. Their conclusion was this show is simply a reflection of America as we know it today. As one critic pointed out, the beauty industry is a billion-dollar business. Women pour money into products that promise youth, sex appeal, and glamour. We spend hard earned cash to cover up, slather on, re-shape and rearrange everything we’ve been born with. Why do we do this to ourselves? When did our outside appearance start defining our self-worth?
Apparently it’s been happening for centuries. Ancient Egyptians are believed to be among the first to delve into cosmetic enhancement. They believed that their appearance had a direct effect on their spiritual condition. In essence, cleanliness really was next to godliness. While there is nothing wrong with the use of cosmetics, our obsession with appearance is disturbing. Have we become so vain that our self- worth is solely measured by our outward beauty? Or could it be something else entirely? Could our need to appear perfect stem from some deep seeded need within us to be accepted and loved? The girls on Bridalplasty are engaged to be married, yet I get this eerie sense that these women just do not believe they are worthy and drastic surgery is the only choice for them. Is it vanity or is it a darker form of self-hatred?
As I watched footage of the show I was reminded of a conversation I had with my eight-year-old daughter just days before. She asked me why I wear makeup and why people can’t just be happy with the face that they’ve been given. When I asked her if she was happy with her face she was matter of fact. “Yep. I don’t want to wear makeup when I get big.” Inside I silently thanked God for this child who already had a better grip on life than most adults.
1 Peter 3:3-4 tells us that in the big picture, our outer appearance is only slightly important. Humility, grace, and gentleness should enhance the loveliness that God already believes we possess. Inner beauty is the force that will change lives, not Covergirl. I have taught my daughter to live by these principals and it looks like she’s catching on fast. She understands that modesty is to be cherished and that loving our neighbor is more important than looking better than her. These are the values I have been trying to instill in my child. Yet in the process, am I giving her mixed messages when she watches me apply eyeliner? For the moment she seems quite content with the face that she was born with. I only wish I could bottle her confidence and give it away. How might the world be changed if we believed we are already beautiful?