From the time I was a young girl, I wanted to be beautiful. In the fifth grade, I resorted to desperate measures in a very eleven-year-old kind of way. I distinctly remember some bright blue eye shadow being involved.
I can even picture in my mind what said unauthorized makeup looked like in its case – like a pallet that would normally hold watercolor paint. Five fabulous, or not-so-fabulous, color options ranging from pale green to bright blue were available.
It was the early eighties. Blue eye shadow was all the rage and a very accepted beauty solution. It was everywhere! On magazine covers, in commercials, and on every older woman at church. I think even Marsha Brady was wearing it on TV. Trust me, back then most girls took beauty cues from Marsha Brady.
I know. Scary.
I rode the bus to elementary school, which gave me a brief, unsupervised window of opportunity in the mornings to misbehave and sneak around between exiting the big yellow taxi and entering the classroom.
My neighbors Brenda and Sally sometimes adventured with me to the West Hempfield Elementary School beauty salon: the girls’ bathroom. As long as we made it to our classrooms before the bell rang, we were golden.
Enter the blue eye shadow.
I’m not sure where my eye shadow kit came from. It could’ve been a hand-me-down. It could have been a garage sale find. I don’t remember. I’m certain, however, that at that point in my life, eye shadow was supposed to be for play, not for school.
Not being one to get tripped up over details, I ran to the girls’ room and generously smudged the bright blue cream on my eyelids. Then, feeling I had reached a higher level of beauty, I proceeded to Miss Lewis’s fifth-grade classroom.
As I remember it, several days of eye-colored bliss passed.
In my mind, I was cool and hip.
In reality, not so much.
During some quiet work time one morning, Miss Lewis called me up to her desk. With a hushed teacher tone, she asked, “Does your mother know you’re wearing that eyeshadow to school?”
“Yes, Miss Lewis,” I said. “My mom lets me wear this.”
“Well, Gwen,” She whispered, “I might just need to call your mother and ask her about that.”
Then she sent me back to my seat.
I sat in fear as I entertained dreadful thoughts of being found out. Miss Lewis never did call my mom, but the day I was called up to her desk was the last day I wore bright blue eye shadow at school. (At least in the fifth grade.)
The truth of the matter is I just wanted to feel beautiful. I thought that if I were beautiful, people would like me better. They would accept me more. I cared about what other people thought about me.
I wanted to measure up.
To some degree, I still do.
Can you relate?
We want to be beautiful people. And that’s okay! It’s fine to want to be beautiful. To take care of yourself. To gloss your lips and throw Spanks on your hips. But we need to be cautious of blurring the lines between physical beauty, spiritual beauty, and personal worth.
Measuring up to Hollywood’s version of beautiful has never been, nor ever will be, what God desires for us. God cares much more about our internal beauty, our reverence, and our love for Him, than our external beauty. The Bible says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).
Join me in chasing His beauty today.
Dear Lord, You are the true source of all that is good and lovely! Help me to quit chasing the attention and approval of others and instead pursue the deep beauty found in Your presence and Your promises. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE
What has you tripped up on trying to measure up?
Pray that God will open your eyes to see beauty as He sees beauty. Write in your journal about what the Lord is teaching you.