Efforts to obtain what one might call bodily perfection can verge on the extreme. Many young women especially are convinced that an embellishment, procedure, or reconstruction effort is needed to reach a physical ideal. Issues of self-worth and self-acceptance may be at the core of this. As I learned more about the popularity of these enhancements, my heart went out to my daughters and all the world’s young women. I felt that bringing healing to this issue starts with an understanding of what true beauty is.
One definition of “beauty” reads: “joy and gladness; order; prosperity; peace; holiness.” These attributes point to beauty as a spiritual quality we can cultivate from within.
The saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” became real to me as I watched my younger daughter, a fourth-grader, delightfully discover a new store. In her excitement she bubbled with laughter, and her joy was contagious. Everyone in the store lit up smiling. Her joy continued nonstop, for about 30 minutes! Some might say they’d like to bottle that.
I felt we were witnessing her true beauty – pure joy that filled the whole atmosphere with lightness and love. It really had nothing to do with her physical appearance. We were simply seeing the spiritual essence of a beautiful child.
This reminded me of one of Christ Jesus’ sayings: “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Doesn’t this indicate that we already possess the deepest, most beautiful, and highest sense of ourselves that we could ever have – that we naturally reflect the goodness that is God?
The Monitor’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, put it this way: “God fashions all things, after His own likeness. Life is reflected in existence, Truth in truthfulness, God in goodness, which impart their own peace and permanence. Love, redolent with unselfishness, bathes all in beauty and light” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 516).
Truthfully, we are all the children of God. We all reflect divine intelligence, love, beauty, and grace. Even though we have varying backgrounds and look different, we all have the same divine parentage. There’s a verse from a Christian Science hymn that lovingly encourages us to think about our heritage in this spiritual way:
You are God’s purpose, His great design.
Beautiful, blameless, His child divine.
Holding your thoughts to the good and the true,
Spirit will form you anew. (Peter B. Allen, “Christian Science Hymnal: Hymns 430-603,” No. 565).
Having a material view of ourselves and striving to reach physical perfection leads us to be too self-critical. But a spiritual view helps each one of us – man, woman, and child – to see that our true beauty is our spiritual identity, as “God’s reflection, needing no cultivation, but ever beautiful and complete” (Science and Health, p. 527).
Being more convinced of this myself, I feel I can better help my daughters understand and appreciate the joy of true beauty in themselves and others.