We know that looks aren’t supposed to matter. We can talk a good game, saying we don’t care what we look like, don’t put that much thought into it, don’t really worry about it. But a lot of the time, we’re not being entirely honest.
Every girl, from the prettiest to the most tomboyish, struggles with her looks at times. This struggle (otherwise known as vanity) can manifest itself in different ways. Here are some examples* of how we display a preoccupation with our appearance:
1) You’re overly concerned about how you look. (the obvious one)
2) You are unable to receive compliments well.
Surprise you? Not being able to accept the good things about your appearance is another form of vanity.
3) You feel depressed or anxious because you are “fat.”
Not even necessarily fat. Just not as thin as you think you should be.
4) You are on an unhealthy quest for thinness.
Eating disorders are an extreme form of being preoccupied with how you look.
5) You spend too much money on your clothes, your hair, your nails, your makeup, etc.
6) You compare yourself to others and how they look.
Believe it or not, this is also an indication of vanity. If you constantly compare your looks, clothes, hair, or whatever to other girls, you’re probably thinking about it too much.
7) You say things to get others to compliment you.
This is known as fishing for compliments, and it’s not cute. Most people see right through it and it aggravates them. And if you were honest, you’d say that these kind of compliments don’t really make you happy because you know they’re not real.
8) You apologize for how you look.
Apologizing for something means you feel bad about it. When you apologize for how you look, it means you don’t feel good about it. Usually because you’re comparing yourself to others around you.
Although there’s nothing wrong with making sure your appearance is put together, most girls find it hard to stop there. We analyze our “look” constantly. We compare it to others. We are always on the lookout for ways to look better or dress cuter or be more noticeable. All of this is worthless vanity.
1 Peter 3:3-5a says, “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves…”
When I read this, it helps me stop and just sigh in relief. Peter was telling us that we don’t have to put so much value on our “look.” God values the way our hearts look. If we have a gentle and quiet spirit that rests in God, we have imperishable beauty in His eyes. And that lasts a lot longer than the latest fashion trend or your new cute haircut.
*Examples from Damsels in Distress by Martha Peace, p. 92.