Every year the media announces the one who is voted as the sexiest woman of the year and the one who is voted the sexiest man of the year. The undraped bodies of these two winners are pictured, posted and published to impress all oglers, underscoring bodily perfection and beauty as preeminent in human value. This exclusive focus on physical appearance directs millions in their life choices as well as their self-assessment.
The annual billions of dollars spent on beauty aids evidence the prevailing drive to be popular — to be recognized as possessing the top American human trait — GOOD LOOKS. These ravenous purchases of beauty aids and anti-aging concoctions would amass enough wealth to nearly feed the hungry of the world.
Millions, mostly young females denied overt physical beauty traits, suffer from depression, convinced of a depreciative self-worth. Although males are also such affected by how they look, their success and position in our society is not nearly so dependent on appearance.
Esteemed as “good looking” or “attractive,” particularly for those in the adolescent and early adult periods, are predominant quests deeply rooted in the minds and emotions of countless millions. Self-respect is frequently threatened without such accolades.
Every bit as extravagant are the efforts of those growing older (30 to death?) to keep looking young. The time and money to preserve youthful beauty is astounding and appalling; particularly with those in their middle or later years who often have both time and money to indulge their quest.
I am sure my experience as a young adult was like many of yours — feeling so self-inflated and exalted by someone’s casual comment of how good I looked. The sobering and maturing thoughts of inevitable aging, with accompanying wrinkles and discrepancy, allow intelligence to modulate this spontaneous and youthful self-adulation. Some will see me as a true kill-joy, putting a wet blanket on the God-given accrudiments of youth and its pleasures.
My response: People who love us do not see a collection of body parts, rather they see us. They see our love, sacrifices, patience, forgiveness, honesty, fidelity, devotion, intelligence, humor and creativity — all endowments from God, all reflecting his image. God is the giver of all beauty and all gifts.
Grabbing and claiming ownership and honor for what God puts in us (body and mind) appears as sinful — the sin of pride, as well as theft
The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of psychology
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