Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Contentment Part 2: Cosmetic Contentment

It's been a long time since my first post on contentment. Maybe I've been more content since then...but probably not. What go me thinking about it today was a haircut appointment. You see, I've never been totally satisfied with my hair (well, maybe once). It is fine and limp and doesn't always do what I want it to do. I keep trying new stylists and new 'dos in an attempt to find that elusive "perfect style". Now, this is not something that consumes me. I rarely go for a haircut more than every two months and I'm usually willing to just live with it. I just wish it could be better.

What does this say about my contentment with my looks? I'm not entirely sure yet. But it does make me more cautious in my judgments of other people who are in pursuit of some physical "ideal". I used to consider plastic surgery an affront to the Creator. He made us the way we are and He didn't make all of us the same. To change one's face or body in an artificial way seemed to say what God made wasn't good enough. My old views would allow for exceptions on the basis of physical pain/discomfort and disfigurations, but that was it.

Like I say, now I'm not so sure. What made me change my mind? I colored my hair. I fell prey to cultural norms that say graying women are in their fifties or sixties. I wasn't content with letting nature follow it's own course because it seemed a bit premature. Here is the shocking discovery I made when I decided to use a color a few shades lighter than my naturally very dark brown:I looked better. People were complementing me all the time on my hair and only half of them realized the improvement was due to the color not the cut. Even men who aren't prone to giving complements were praising my hair. Weird!

So I had to rethink things. Would God have made me in a way that was less than ideal? Yes, I think that is a very real possibility. People are born every day missing limbs, having debilitating deformities and other physical traits that set them apart from the "norm". Are they less touched by the Creator? I would say not. Then is it okay to seek to improve oneself physically? And to what extent? Does this relate to our ability to be content in every circumstance?

"Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life."
Proverbs 16:31

6 musings:

spaghettipie said...

Interesting thought, I must say. I don't think He creates us less than "ideal" - but ideal being His standard and for His purposes. He creates us for exactly the purposes He plans for us. That said, I can't say I disagree with your logic. If I think it is okay to cut and color your hair, or wear makeup, then can I really disagree with cosmetic surgery?

Your post comes at a great time, as I'm preparing to lead our next church's women's fellowship in a discussion about envy.

Heather said...

Hmmm as a woman who started going gray at 19(!!!) and started coloring immedialty I can see both sides. I actually get compliments when I DON'T color. My gray is all one strek in the front of my head (Thing Rouge from X-men). However some of us do go to extremes with cosmetics or surgey to fill a "gap" inside. The gap that is supposed to be filled by the Word.

I guess what we need to do is make sure the outer package isn't our focus.

Charity Singleton said...

This is a great topic -- does make me wonder why some things seems out of bounds (cosmetic surgery) and others perfectly normal (makeup). [Good points, Spaghettipie].

And beauty is so fleeting, even the cultural ideal of beauty. What am I trying to live up to anyway?

I guess I also come down on the point Heather made -- our outsides are not the point. If we can apply a little make-up and style the hair while maintaining that value, I guess we're probably doing ok.

L.L. Barkat said...

Some people just love to play and be creative... working with one's appearance can be a part of that.

But drawing the line between play and coercion of our bodies is necessary, I think.

A Musing Mom said...

Thanks for the great comments. I love getting more ways of thinking on a topic.

Spaghetti pie - He does create us for exactly His purposes, doesn't He?

Heather - inner beauty really is what matters, huh?

Charity - good reminder to try living up to God's way.

LL-I love the way you think outside the box (maybe because I'm one of those that likes to play and be creative in temporary ways. Like hair).

I know where my own focus should be (but sometimes need the reminder). I'm still working on learning compassion for those who've been misguided into putting their worth on externals.

spaghettipie said...

I loved what LL added. I recently attended a women's fellowship where a guy who coordinates fashion shows in Dallas spoke about...fashion. He did a great job talking about finding the balance with the desire we women have to be/look beautiful and the obsessive focus we sometimes get. The main point I walked away with that he shared was to let your clothing (and makeup, hair, etc) be a creative expression of your personality. That gave me such a different view of how I choose to "dress myself up".