Posted by: JennyRain | March 27, 2010

The Price of Beauty

I have been profoundly affected by several posts about beauty the past couple of weeks.

Blogger Sarah Markley challenged several bloggers to contemplate beauty on their blogs… some did it begrudgingly… some did it willingly… but what came out of it was a series of excruciatingly authentic writings that have started to awaken my own subjugated feelings about beauty.

This is Sarah’s post that started it all for the blogosphere… but this is the post that crunched my soul into a million tiny pieces as I read it. Blogger Sara Frankl (affectionately known as “Gitz”) suffers from Cushing’s Disease. In her post, Sara-without-an-h talks about how the meds she is on have caused her to “bloat” (by 70 pounds).

Now, I’ll take a quick pause to encourage you… if you have not yet read the Sarah’s (Sarah-with-an-h Markley and Sara-without-an-h Frankl) both blogs will encourage, inspire, and challenge you…

Ok, back to our regularly scheduled programming on Beauty…


Last night I got my hair cut.

All of dem.

Short.

I did not tell many people before I got it cut because I knew the standard response would be, “Nooooooo! Do not get your hair cut!” or for my Georgia contingency “Noooooo! Not again!”

I did not tell my husband.

I knew I wanted to have short hair for the upcoming Burundi trip – but it was more than that.

It was just time. Just like it was time for the 3 tats, so it was time again to get my hair cut.

Sitting in the electric chair… oops, I mean the stylist chair… watching my-Maggie-from-Nigeria-who-I-adore rubberband my hair into ponytails and then tentatively lop it off…

“Are you sure?” she asked. Probably pondering my I-want-to-let-my-hair-grow comment two weeks prior.

“Yes Maggie, I’m sure.”

Lop… lop! Off went the hair.

Immediately, I felt lighter. I had “lost” all of this weight that I was carrying around. My head felt bouncier.

I like bouncy.

Watching my Maggie-girl shape my hair I was perfectly content.

Then the thought hit me, “Will I be ugly?”

I realized I had been struggling with that thought for the last several years. Will I be ugly if I don’t have my long hair? Will I be ugly if I don’t have the most in-style clothing? Will I be ugly if I don’t wear makeup? Will I be ugly if I gain weight?

For more than two decades, I have been relying on a lot of accoutrements to facilitate attempts at “pretty”.

Yesterday, I realized that one-by-one, I have been shedding these unwanted bangles.

  • My salary precluded me from maintaining a fashionable wardrobe, and even when I do manage to inherit clothing from a dear Ann-Taylor-esque friend, my body just does not seem to wear it as well as my friends to.  But no matter what I buy or wear, I still feel dowdy.
  • Makeup has been removed from my wardrobe because by the end of a makeup-clad day – I feel like I need a spackle-knife to remove the layers of cover-girl. Goo on my face just feels gross.  But most of my girlfriends and colleagues wear makeup so most days I feel underdressed without it on.
  • Marriage has blessed me with excess poundage. Since meeting John in late 2008, I have consistently gained about a pound every couple of weeks. Since moving back North – I have advanced two pants sizes.  Ugh. I am not going to lie – I feel fat-rocious.
  • First (and also most recent) to go was the hair (my first go-around was my attempt-at-Natalie-Portman-hair-in-2007 – picture below).  The last time I had short hair I felt insecure about my beauty. I’d be lying if I said I feel gorg-iferous now. Cute maybe, but pretty? Not really.

I rely on a lot of external “things” to help my looks.

Maybe I have been conditioned this way by society. Maybe I have always felt “not-good-enough” in the looks category. Maybe this is just normal for women, I don’t know.

But I know that I want to get to a place where I am less dependent on outside influences affecting my beauty.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. 1 Peter 3:4-5

How easy it has been for me to quote that… but how difficult I find it is to live it.

It probably did not help last night that when my husband arrived home at 10:15 from his game, we were in the house twenty minutes and he did not even notice I got my hair cut.

Did not even notice!

If it was one or two inches, I could understand.

It was ten.

Now, we all know men are none-too-observant-especially-when-it-counts at times. Even as great as my husband is, he is a bit slow, he misses things, he is clueless sometimes!

I must admit, however, that my dear friend Tonya’s FB comment left me quite cheery this morn (see last comment). Oh so true my dear friend…


I love my Gumpee dearly… my feelings are just a little hurt that he did not even notice my new hair.

He probably hates it. That’s why he isn’t saying anything. I’m probably not pretty anymore to him. He is just being silent so he won’t be mean…

Those thoughts plague my brain.

Sigh.

See, even with all of these attempts at weaning myself from the things I rely on to help the pretty-factor, I still cling to those things – not my inner self – to influence pretty.

Maybe I’m just too hung up on beauty. Maybe its just because I’m a girl.

Do men worry about this crazy stuff so much? When do we – as women – get to a point where we are content with inner-beauty?

You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah, [a]
and your land Beulah [b] ;
for the LORD will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.


as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you. Isaiah 62.3-5a

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Responses

  1. One time I unintentionally dyed my hair bright red. Eventually after spending hours together, I had to tell my husband. Another time a friend of mine got her hair highlighted and he said, “Kim, did you get your hair highlighted? It looks great!” Sometime efforts to get them are just futile. He’s totally oblivious most of the time, but once in a while he surprises me with a keen observation. Maybe it’s to keep me on my toes!

    But I definitely think the older I get (turned 38 in January) the more I appreciate the inner beauty of women. Because actually it’s not just inner, it shows in mannerisms and a certain grace. And I think there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look put together.

    But there’s a balance to strike, and turning off the television and refusing to look at magazines helps. Very sad that we are bombarded by unrealistic ideals!

    • soooo true! ok, i am laughing because that is totally my husband too 🙂 how funny… i guess we are all guilty! he finally woke up and said ‘oh your hair is cute i like it’ and then pointed to his own head and he had gotten his hair cut too yesterday.

      oops…:)

  2. It’s hard not to be hung up on beauty. I think it’s a combination of things. We have been influenced since birth to believe that beauty is held in the highest regard. The minute you turn on the tv, you’re inundated by society’s idea of beauty and sexiness – and 99.9% of it is aimed at women. Even when you understand the extent of the influence, it’s almost impossible to free yourself from it.

    Also, men are visual creatures, they like looking at attractive things. Let’s face it, we all like looking at attractive things. You get immediate gratification from looking at pretty things. It takes time to see the inner beauty.

    And lastly, I think it’s one of the inherent characteristics of women…we want to feel beautiful. And when you combine that with the previous two factors, outer beauty seems to win over inner beauty.

    But I don’t think they have to be mutually exclusive of each other. I have been an ugly duckling all my life. It’s only in the past few years that I’ve really started to like what I look like. It comes from different things, like losing weight, changing the color of my hair, putting pretty colors on my face. Those things help me to feel good about the appearance I present to those around me.

    But I also believe the inner beauty presents itself on the outside. The joy of growing closer and closer to my husband, exploring the oneness that we’ve become has had an effect on what I look like. Most importantly, I think the spiritual growth has had an effect on both the inside and the outside. As the Holy Spirit cleans out the old earthly Thel and rebuilds it into the new creature in Christ that I’m becoming…that light and joy that comes from knowing our beautiful God shows in my eyes and my face.

    Now, at 40 something, people tell me I’m pretty, or they like my smile, or I see them take a double look at me. I know that it’s fleeting, and I don’t stake my self-worth on it. I admit I enjoy it. It makes me feel good after a lifetime of being passed over.

    I know who I am and whose I am (you remember that), and everything else is just a minor detail that won’t mean a thing in eternity.

    Love you, and thanks for your honesty.

    PS, I loved your short hair when you had it before. It framed that beautiful face of yours!!

    • love you girl! i had no idea – i have always thought you were pretty – wow! i had no idea you struggled like me 🙂 you are a blessing…. ((hugs from up north))

  3. You are awesome and short hair is a good thing! I’m sure you look beautiful so feel beautiful! It’s inside, remember?

  4. Okay – I’m looking for the picture of the new do – very curious and think it’s very brave. You see, I have this love-hate thing with my hair and if it’s even an inch shorter, as it is now, i have freak out moments.

    Love your thoughts on this and the related links, as being almost 47 makes you look at beauty in a whole different way.

    • 🙂 thanks Mel! I am hopefully going to have one posted later today – I haven’t had a chance to take one yet 🙂

  5. Wonderful post Jenny. I’m like you I don’t tell anyone when I’m going to do something drastic to my hair. Except usually hubby because I want to make sure he likes it. Course I didn’t tell him I was going to add bangs to the do a year ago.

    I think being a woman and wanting to be beautiful and look beautiful and struggling with that is just part of it. I commented to someone on my blog that I would guess even Eve struggled with her own beauty after the fall. Especially since she knew what it was like to have been perfect. Literally.

    Can’t wait to see the new do.

    • Prudy – never thought about the fact that Eve might have doubted her beauty too… soooo true

  6. i loved sara’s posts too.

    she’s such an inspiration to me.

    i loved this post, jenny. so beautiful, so true. thanks for sending me the link

    (i actually read it last week when you emailed me but i didn’t have a chance to comment or email you back.)

    =)


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