Beauty Isn’t About Makeup (Three Steps to Understanding Beauty)
Much of the time when I google, hashtag, or event chat with others about beauty, I am met with makeup adds, beauty products, endless fashion tips, or how others want to change their physical appearance because they don’t feel they measure up to the “beauty standard.” These topics are better categorized under prettiness. “Prettiness” is not a new concept, though I personally feel like the desire to be visibly gorgeous has grown since social media. We as humans want to be desirable and we want to be wanted. While this is a good desire, many of us have begun to twist the actual value of beauty as a means to become more desirable and are missing it’s true purpose.
I am an artist and it bugs me that these are the primary focus points when discussing beauty. Furthermore, I am sure you are familiar with the theory that, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” a concept that I actually disagree with. Let me share with you why. While there is somewhat of a subjective value in how we personally respond or not, beauty itself is beyond US. It holds an objective value. Just as truth is found in Our Creator and can’t be simply be determined by our own likes or dislikes, so is beauty. It isn’t arbitrary or wavering, though there are many many diverse displays of it’s splendor. Yes, I personally may be more open to seeing and experiencing one type of beauty, say a sunset, while you may be more inclined to melt at the sound of a symphony. Yet, this does not change the value of the beautiful whether I perceive it or not. I do not determine what is beautiful and nor do you. We simply discover it’s majesty.
What is my point? While we can go down many discussions regarding this topic, today I am simply proposing that we are falling into the trap of making beauty to be ALL ABOUT US. When in reality, it is a powerful gift that is meant to raise us up to the DIVINE.
Do we realize it’s purpose in our life whether we have been awe struck by a painting, captivated by the sea, or can’t stop staring at the piercing features of a person we encountered? Have we asked ourselves why? What is it about the beautiful that makes my heart sing? It is speaking something, sharing mysteries, gifting love. I remember when I lived in West Palm Beach for college, and would constantly go to sit by the ocean. Day or night, when I had the time I would step out onto the sandy white beach and stare out into the endless water before me. Waves would climb in and out, sometimes touching my toes. The soothing sound would often ease any anxiety from the day-to-day clung to me. I would breath in the fresh salty air and feel the gentle warm breeze kiss my cheeks. These moments made me feel so small in this world, yet, at the same time so close to God.
You see, beauty isn’t really about prettiness or any fluffy fantasy, but rather it is showing us who God is in all His splendor. He unveils Himself bit by bit through nature, in others, by art, and through virtue. There are countless moments in all of our lives that are given to us, asking that we may look beyond to the giver of those gifts. Yet, if we are simply stuck in the ‘feeling’ it gives ME or the way it makes ME appear to others, we are missing the richness it offers.
Do not get me wrong, humans are Beautiful! WE are created in the image and likeness of God and are arguably the most magnificent created beings. Furthermore, the desire to be beautiful, to be attractive, to be liked, to be loved and admired, is the desire to be more unified with God Himself. Wow! Let that sink in. The truth is, when we want to be attractive and to feel good, we actually want to be with God. We want to be loved by Him. This desire isn’t just in women, as men encounter it too though in their own unique ways. Furthermore, we often feel the desire to take beauty into ourselves. As C.S. Lewis writes, “We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words — to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.” Why is that??? Because, again, the beautiful speaks of the King of Kings and we must keep digging deeper to see it’s true message that involves us, yes, but it is also beyond us.
So how can we go about encountering and understanding beauty better? Here are three steps that I have found to be super helpful:
The next time beauty comes your way listen more intently. Gaze with our soul. Open the ears of your heart and allow it to pierce you. This may be in something as simple, as a flower, a painting, or as grandeur and profound as the birth of a child.
Choose to go beyond yourself:
Again, we are involved, as life is a love story unifying us with our Creator, but it isn’t just about ME. So the next time you are tempted to only focus on yourself and how it is affecting your feelings, insta likes, or physical attributes and appearance, challenge yourself to go beyond. Challenge yourself to hear the mystery being shared about the DIVINE, to see the deeper desire of your heart, to respond in praise and greater surrender to Christ. In fact, we become more beautiful the more unified we are with God. Think of it as another offering to take a step closer into His merciful arms so that it becomes more of US WITH HIM.
Take more time:
Often we don’t respond to the many moments that are calling our hearts each day. We become blind by business and the current task at hand. Yet, if we remain open, we are moved more readily. When we set aside time or at least allow some pauses in the day to take place where we admire the beautiful, we will begin to learn more about who we are in Christ. Instead of watching the 5th show of the day, go to the adoration chapel and visit true beauty Himself, watch the sunset, or listen to classical music. Encountering the beautiful intentionally, transforms our very being. We receive what we have been desiring and are uplifted for the journey before us because beauty gives us that needed strength.
Don’t let the culture distract you with useless topics like makeup when it comes to beauty. It is a sneaky way for us to miss some AMAZING moments. When I chose to challenge myself in these steps, everything began piercing my heart. I would go for hikes and pause for a while to simply stare at moss… Yes, moss. It’s variations of green, yellow, and brown were mesmerizing. The tiny tiny details were so intentionally placed to form a spectacular creation. It grew over a moist rock, forming an elegant covering as if dressing it up for a special occasion. This small moment, that would have been so easy to pass by, showed me how intentional God is and how involved He is in each little moment of our lives. This is true for all of us we just have to open ourselves to notice. May we not grow blind or become deaf to the true beauty before us.
Note: If you want to know more about authentic beauty (not makeup), I highly recommend Dietrich Von Hildebrand’s study on Aesthetics. It will transform your mind. Though, I have nothing against makeup… just saying.
Kate Capato is an adventurous creative who seeks all things beautiful. She often travels and serves in mission and now shares God’s love through her artistic creations of Sacred Art, Dance, and Photography. When she is not creating or traveling, Kate loves spending time with friends and family while drinking a good glass of wine and consuming extra dark chocolate. To see her work, visit her portfolio below and share in this mission of spreading truth and goodness.