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The following is part two in a two-part series on the truth about beauty. To read part one, CLICK HERE.
Truth #6: The Lord can help us overcome our negative feelings about our bodies.
What if we truly despise our face or our body, or we’re afraid to age and nothing short of drastic measures could ever change our appearance? Perhaps we even have serious physical deformities that contribute to our poor self-image and there’s nothing we can do to change them. Must we simply endure these negative feelings until the resurrection? Of course, we’re deeply grateful that Jesus Christ has blessed us with the hope of a perfect body someday—but most of the time “someday” feels impossibly far away. What then?
Let me share with you something lovely I came across some months ago. I was deeply touched as I read the following account from Sister Merrilee Boyack. Her message is powerful and potentially healing for anyone who deals with deep seated issues about their appearance—and isn’t that most of us?
“I have spent my entire lifetime feeling unattractive…So you can imagine how I felt when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and told that I had to have a mastectomy. You’ve GOT to be kidding me. Wasn’t I ugly enough? The thought of losing my hair, which I felt was my one saving grace, hit me. I shall never forget the day when…I realized that by the end of the month I would be bald. Bald. Ugly. Could I survive all this emotionally? On that day I prayed to Heavenly Father and asked for a gift. I asked for the gift of healing of my feelings about my appearance…I knew this was not something I could survive very well emotionally on my own. And I was tired of feeling ugly for 50 years of my life. I wanted healing. And I knew the only way to get it was to get it from God. So I asked.
Now a strange thing began to happen. Day after day, I felt prettier. I know that is very strange and hard to explain. I began to notice things about myself that I liked and were attractive. And then came the day … when my hair was going… [My son] came home on his lunch hour. I buzzed his hair, and then he buzzed mine. As he was buzzing it, he commented, “It’s not every day you get to buzz off your mother’s hair!”
And then came the time to face the mirror. And an amazing thing happened. I looked in that mirror and saw beauty. My eyes that I had always hated were shining. My skin was glowing. I had a good head! And a big smile. I realized that I was truly beautiful.
I told my husband that I have felt more beautiful in the last two months than I have ever felt in my life. He laughed and said it must have been the hair! But I know something deeper has happened. God has healed my feelings about my appearance. I have finally been able to see myself as He sees me—a marvelous work of art. And the voices that I have carried in my head for decades have been completely silenced. It was a gift from Him—pure and simple.
I have learned a deep lesson. God creates beauty. It is that simple. And when He created me, He created a lovely, pretty, down-right-CUTE daughter. I have also realized that every single one of us is beautiful. Yeah, yeah, we have inner beauty. But I have discovered that every single one of us in all our shapes and sizes and ages and conditions, are truly beautiful on the outside. That was something I had not understood until now.”(4)
One particular line from Sister Boyack has echoed through my mind since reading her story: “God has healed my feelings about my appearance.” If issues about our physical appearance are undermining our confidence and making it difficult for us to believe that we are of worth, then it’s high time we address this sensitive subject with the One who created us. Imagine how liberating it would be to leave our negative feelings behind, freeing our spirits to actively pursue the kind of life God intends for His daughters. Imagine, in the place of self-consciousness and self-loathing, a life of service and sanctification.
Truth #7: Physical beauty is not a requirement for spiritual perfection. (Hallelujah!)
If we need scriptural evidence that God isn’t fretting over our physical appearance, try this on for size: referring to the Savior, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “…he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isaiah53:2) That ought to give us something to chew on. Apparently, even Jesus Himself didn’t possess an extraordinary share of good looks, and yet we sing about our “Beautiful Savior.”
Meaning what? Meaning, the Savior was able to achieve perfection without being considered particularly attractive, so the type of perfection we’re asked to strive for has nothing to do with physical beauty. We’re asked to keep our bodies clean and healthy and modestly covered, but nowhere in the scriptures are we given a description of the ideal hair color, skin tone, or body size—because there is none. The phrase “perfect size six” is not found in the standard works. (Unless it’s buried in Leviticus—I suppose I could have missed it in there.)
What do the scriptures say about our bodies? “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14) Squinting into the mirror first thing in the morning, we can sort of understand the fearful part. But honestly, do we believe that we are fearfully and wonderfully made? Can we trust that the God who created man and woman in His own image knew what He was doing? Heavenly Father has a plan of salvation for each of us, and the particular body that we were given to house our spirit is an integral part of that plan. Through our bodies we will be tempted and frustrated and humbled—and as we learn to respect these sacred temples and allow our spirits to control them, our bodies will enable us to experience a higher level of joy than our spirits alone can achieve. As stated by Elder David A. Bednar, “Our physical bodies make possible a breadth, a depth, and an intensity of experience that simply could not be obtained in our premortal estate.” (5)
Truth #8: You are beautiful.
Yes, I’m talking to you. Don’t roll your eyes or sigh. It’s time we “get over ourselves,” even with all of our perceived imperfections, and stop the negative self-talk. If you still need help in this area of your life, please refer back to Truth #6. I pray the day will come—for all of us—when we can be at peace with our appearance. Then we will finally be free to shift our focus more fully to Christ.
4. Merrilee Brown Boyack, Time Out For Women Blog, February 2009.
5. David A. Bednar, “Things As They Really Are,” CES Fireside, May 2009.
This article is an excerpt from the book “Sisters, Arise!” by Lynne Perry Christofferson, published by Covenant Communications, Inc. 2016.