A healthy attitude toward physical beauty can mean the difference between happiness and unhappiness.
Why do we appreciate beauty?
In ways that are still a mystery, the human brain perceives beauty. The Bible does not explain how this happens, but it does reveal why we have an aesthetic sense: God endowed us with his attributes. (Genesis 1:27; Ecclesiastes 3:11) He also created the highly complex human body, giving it amazing form and function. In that regard, an ancient songwriter said: “I praise you [God] because in an awe-inspiring way I am wonderfully made.”—Psalm 139:14.
Today, though, attitudes toward physical beauty are often unbalanced—a trend promoted by the fashion industry and the popular media. According to the book Body Image, a number of studies in Western cultures “suggest that body image is the single most important factor in a person’s overall self-image.” Such a narrow focus, however, can mean ignoring something far more important—an individual’s heart.—1 Samuel 16:7.
Hand in hand with the focus on the body is growing overemphasis on sexuality, especially that of women. “Virtually every media form studied,” says a 2007 American Psychological Association (APA) report, “provides ample evidence of the sexualization of women.” The Bible firmly encourages us to avoid being influenced by such trends—and for good reason!—Colossians 3:5, 6.
“Do not let your adornment be external . . . , but let it be the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible adornment of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.”—1 Peter 3:3, 4.
Why is it wise to have a balanced view?
Concerning physical beauty, some say: “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” In cultures where such thinking is common, adolescent and even preadolescent girls learn to view themselves “as objects of others’ desires . . . , to be looked at and evaluated for their appearance,” says a report by the APA. That view can be most harmful. In fact, it has become a major social and health concern that, according to the APA, may lead to “a host of negative emotional consequences.” These may include anxiety and “even self-disgust . . . , eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood.”
“Remove troublesome things from your heart, and ward off harmful things from your body, for youth and the prime of life are futility.”—Ecclesiastes 11:10.
What attitude reflects a sound mind?
The Bible associates “soundness of mind,” or sensibleness, with modesty. (1 Timothy 2:9) Consider: Modest people are not superficial or vain, obsessing about their looks, but they have a healthy, balanced view of themselves. They also consider the feelings of others and thus earn admiration, respect and, above all, God’s favor. (Micah 6:8) Moreover, they are more likely to make true friends and attract potential marriage mates who are interested not just in physical intimacy but also in a lasting and happy union.
For many good reasons, then, the Bible exhorts us to focus on the inner person—“the secret person of the heart.” (1 Peter 3:3, 4) Inner beauty truly is ageless. In fact, it can improve with time! “Gray hair is a crown of beauty when it is found in the way of righteousness,” says Proverbs 16:31. Hence, whether young or old, people who heed the Bible’s superior advice will find the key not only to the beauty that lasts but also to dignity and contentment.
“Charm may be false, and beauty may be fleeting, but the woman who fears Jehovah will be praised.”—Proverbs 31:30.