Thanks to the media, American women's definition of beauty has scaled to impossible heights, mostly achievable through severe diets, hyper exercises, and a scalpel or three. We define beauty by perfection of form and feature, and few of us measure up. Seeking to bridge this gap, last year Americans spent $3.4 billion on cosmetic surgery.
Despite the trends, we don't need more procedures or miracle diets; we need a new understanding of beauty. True beauty should reflect something greater than itself. God intends beauty—both internal and external—to reflect his brilliance and draw us closer to him
In Old Testament times, temple furnishings were wrapped in gold and brass. So when the candles and oil lamps burned, the brilliance within the temple must have made the Israelites wish for sunglasses. The building's glowing, gold tones reflected God's bright, "Shekinah-glory" presence. Surely God designed the temple so lavishly to mirror his beauty. Physical, structural beauty became an icon, a sign pointing to him.
In the same way, our faces, bodies, and outward appearance are icons or signs directing other people's attention beyond our own forms to God. In fact, the apostle Paul tells us our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). All the more reason to pay attention to the skin and bones that house God.
So then, nothing is wrong with looking good—for the right reasons.
We care for our bodies not so others approve, love, marry, or hire us. Instead, we care for our bodies because, as a T-shirt says, "If you don't take care of your body, where will you live?" Somewhere between ignoring and obsessing lies good self-care: exercising regularly, eating well, sleeping enough, dressing attractively but not seductively. Then we can carry the Holy Spirit in healthy, pure bodies. And as we care for our bodies, our external "glory" will point to an even greater glory: God's.1