I used to write a beauty and fitness column for a newspaper. I interviewed Hollywood stars and other celebrities, who gave their thoughts on how to look and feel great.
Often I had to laugh at some of the tips these celebs had proposed. They ranged from ingesting seaweed to slathering mud on the skin and then wrapping up in plastic. One actor recommended several small meals a day, another espoused fasting, and yet another said she spent several hours a day working out so she could eat whatever she wanted. I also listened to endless tips about makeup, hairstyling, and cosmetic surgery.
Then one day I sat down with a well-known model who'd been in the business for over 30 years and was still going strong. Her concept of beauty really made sense.
"Beauty comes from within," she remarked. "So I watch what I let into my thinking." She went on to tell how she filled her home with pretty things that she loved, read uplifting books, set goals for herself, listened to good music, and strove to maintain a sense of harmony in her life. She was always signing up for classes to learn a new skill and enlarge her mental horizons.
"Even when I'm just going out to walk the dog," she added, "I always dress nicely, as if preparing to meet a friend." She was making her mental home beautiful, and this made her appearance, and no doubt her daily experiences, more attractive.
"We are all sculptors, working at various forms, moulding and chiseling thought," wrote the founder of this newspaper. "Have you accepted the mortal model? Are you reproducing it?...
"To remedy this, we must first turn our gaze in the right direction, and then walk that way. We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives. Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love - the kingdom of heaven - reign within us, and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally disappear" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 248).
This is talking about the true identity of you and me, which is found in expressing God. After all, we are all God's children, made in His image. Or to put it another way, we embody all the qualities of God. And these spiritual qualities are what real, enduring, indestructible beauty is made of. So the way we look at and perceive ourselves has everything to do with the state of our consciousness.
I just received a note from a friend who had dinner at my home the other night. When I finished reading her words of thanks, I thought how beautiful she is. Not because of her hair or her eyes, but because of her thoughtfulness, her way with words, her gratitude, her poise.
Physical beauty, as we all know, is transient and mercurial. You can look in the mirror one day and think you're pretty close to star quality (well, maybe a small meteorite), then despair of your appearance the next. So it's worth getting the right idea of beauty and embarking on a fitness program to nurture and cultivate spiritual qualities from God.
"The recipe for beauty is to have less illusion and more Soul [God] ..." (Science and Health, pg. 247). Now that promises something wonderful for both men and women - something that becomes fulfilled in our lives as we know what Soul's qualities are and seek to express them all the time. To name a few, they're joy, spontaneity, intelligence, kindness. They're all as good as God is.
It's right to respect the way you look. And there's nothing wrong with exercising, although you don't have to do it to attain beauty. As the model told me, that comes from within, and no amount of makeup is going to turn a frog into a princess - until a change comes to our consciousness about who we are.
Come to think of it, that "recipe" is the best beauty tip I've come across. I might even tack it up on my mirror, just as a reminder!
You can read in-depth articles about God's power in a monthly magazine, The Christian Science Journal.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society