I came home and hung out with my roommates and some friends in our room for a while—because, you know, I live there—just talking and stuff. Then they started talking about this girl who goes to the school, making comments like “she’s just not pretty” and “she tries too hard”. They scrolled through some pictures, alternately laughing and wincing at her attempts to appear “sexy” and attractive. After a while, I started to feel uncomfortable, imagining how devastated she would be if she could hear what they were saying. I felt like I needed to say something, ask them to be a little more respectful of her in the way they were acting. But I kept my mouth shut.
I shouldn’t have.
We all need a place to speak our minds, even if what we have to say isn’t kind or friendly. But the mindset that leads us to say things like this about people is a problem. A huge problem. This kind of gossip condemnation of people without consideration of their lives and motives is a complete dismissal of them as a human and individual. This is a problem, ladies.
Remember that day when you woke up and you just really wanted people to think you looked nice? You tried something new and maybe a little crazy with your makeup. The new dress you bought last week was a little bizarre but you’re dying to try it out. You go for it. Maybe the look isn’t the best but did you feel good? Maybe the dress didn’t “accentuate your body type” perfectly? So what?
Whether someone looks good or not, they are a creation of God. Whether they dress in good taste or not, they are given the right to choose what to wear. Whether you think they are pretty or not, God still created them to be beautiful.
Recognising our own God-given beauty is only half the battle we fight as women of God. It is also incredibly important for us to defend each other’s right to be beautiful. Disparaging the way someone dresses or the way someone’s body looks or the way her hair curls in the humidity, whether to their face or to someone else, is removing them from the status of an independent human formed in God’s image and subjects them to an analysis that shouldn’t ever happen because it shouldn’t even matter. So next time you hear someone behaving like this, say something. And next time you catch yourself doing it, apologise. You don’t know why she wore what she wore. You don’t know what she went through trying to satisfy herself with her appearance. You don’t know why she perhaps struggles with her weight. Stop focusing on physical attributes; these don’t even matter! 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that “‘the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”
Defend the right to be beautiful. Don’t perpetuate the mindset that you dress so people can analyse your appearance. Don’t make the mistake I made today by not saying something.