I was doing my Bible study on Esther by Beth Moore this morning. And so far, I’m really enjoying it.
It’s got tons of interesting cross-Biblical references, historical details I never knew before, and fascinating tie-ins between Esther’s time in the Persian empire and ours in America. But this morning, I couldn’t help but feel rather disappointed with the author.
Nobody’s perfect, of course, and I never expected Moore to be. So I wasn’t so much surprised to read what she wrote, just sad.
The passage I objected to was about the beauty treatments Esther went through in order to prepare herself to… ummm… “meet” the king. It took a total of twelve months to turn an already gorgeous girl into a tantalizing treat for a spoiled little brat of a ruler. And when that year was completed, the soon-to-be queen was allowed to dress to impress however she saw fit.
If you’re familiar with the story, you know Esther chose some relatively unassuming look. Moore expounded on that modesty by pointing out how the Bible never says the young woman went makeup-free, only that she was careful not to go overboard. So far, so good. Whatever.
But then Moore took a personal moment to say how happy she was that the Bible doesn’t condemn makeup, strongly inferring that it would be SO horrible for her to go barefaced.
Here’s the thing… I understand that society is and probably always was structured to appreciate, celebrate and even glorify feminine beauty. The first two are fine, the second downright dangerous. Beauty pageants – whether to find the new queen or the new bachelorette – have existed for centuries upon centuries, and women have been told they’re only as valuable as they look for millennium.
But aren’t we as women of God supposed to know better? Shouldn’t we recognize that we are loved and cherished and beautiful no matter whether we’re sweet 16 or 82, drop dead gorgeous by the world’s standards or plain Jane, Rachel or Leah?
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not entirely condemning makeup. While I’m usually far too lazy and cheap to wear the stuff myself, I do carry cover-up for the occasional pimple, skin-toner to compensate what I think is rosacea (but might just be my Scottish heritage) and under-eye concealer in my purse should the inclination to use them strike. And if I’m going to a formal event, I’m probably going to use at least two, if not all three products.
But there’s nothing wrong with how God made us. We’re made both fearfully and wonderfully: freckles, moles, short lashes, birthmarks, thin lips and all.
God made us to want to look our best. But out best has nothing to do with how flawless our faces are. We have eternal and incredible value regardless and even BECAUSE of how we’re created. And we don’t need to change how God made us in order to be truly and enviably beautiful.