Ugliness and its Solution

Ugliness and its Solution!

Most people imagine that they are ugly! In fact, Google says that “About 10000 people a month Google the phrase, ‘Am I ugly?’”  One woman has taken up to 200 selfies a day and then deleted all of them! We discover that psychology has an answer to this situation:

“I thought it was cruel for other people to have to see my face, that it really is disgusting,” says 20-year-old Alanah.

“I see marks all over my face, which my mum has told me that she does not see. I see my skin is just bumpy and blemished. I see my nose is way too big and crooked and sticks out too much. My eyes are too small.”

Alanah is a beautiful young woman, but when she looks in the mirror she does not see what others see.

She suffers from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), and when her condition was at its worst she repeatedly checked her appearance in the mirror, taking pains to disguise any flaws she thought she saw. Her make-up routine could take up to four hours, and even after this she often felt too anxious to leave the house. (https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-37923088)

While some ugliness is “all in the head,” we do know that there are people who are ugly—objectively. On the other hand, if you feel ugly, could it mostly be a matter of what you think and what others think—whereas you are not more ugly than everyone else?

Just what does the Bible—God’s Word—say about this topic? When God sent Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to replace the apostate Saul, He told this prophet, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). David was not to look at the youngest of Jesse’s sons with the same degree of observation and with the same judgment as he might for the tall and handsome Saul, who had been anointed king earlier.

You might remember this earlier and first king of Israel. Scripture says that Saul was “a choice and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome person than he among the sons of Israel; from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people” (1 Samuel 9:2). The people were attracted to this tall and handsome man—thus they wanted Samuel to anoint him king, which he did. Later we discover that he was proud, resentful, jealous, and vengeful—thus God rejected him.

We see above that David was more in keeping with God’s desires. Even this young man was not ugly but was more than average! The Bible says that David “was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance” (1 Samuel 16:12). But God was looking on the heart and knew that this son of Jesse was the one whom He wanted.

We know that not everyone can be beautiful or handsome. Out of a hundred girls or women, surely few qualify as a raving beauty. Most are rather common, normal, and average—with a few quite ugly.

Many years ago I worked in a place where there was a receptionist whom I would sometimes talk with when I arrived and during my time there. The girl was not really attractive, had a disfigured nose, and would never win a beauty contest. But she was quite winsome, friendly, kind, and outgoing. This pleasant girl—despite her lack of physical beauty—was attractive in her own way. I don’t think that anyone despised her, rejected her, or was upset with her. They could accept her lack of physical attractiveness because of her inner qualities. In fact, they probably were drawn to her and her pleasing personality.

It is true that certain Biblical characters were physically attractive. For instance, Abraham said that Sarah, his wife, was “a beautiful woman” (12:11). Similarly, Isaac’s wife, Rebekah was “beautiful” (26:7). Further, Scripture says that Laban had two daughters. We read that “Leah’s eyes were weak” but “Rachel was beautiful of form and face” (29:17). We can see that God doesn’t look down on beauty since Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel were said to be beautiful.

However, we also learn that this can be a negative trait as well as a positive one. King Lemuel wrote, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30). Lemuel (whom many believe was another name for Solomon) said that beauty was not all-important! If this actually was Solomon, he had married 700 women and had 300 women as concubines (1 Kings 11:3). He must have had “the pick of the crop” in beauty, but he also became an apostate, following false gods and multiplying wives. He succumbed to sin when he allowed beauty to attract him to women he should not have had. Let’s also remember that Vashti (King Ahasuerus’ first wife) was “beautiful” (Esther 1:11) and so was Esther: “The young lady was beautiful of form and face” (2:7). But remember that beauty is only “skin deep” and huge danger accompanies such beauty!

Use your own judgment: How many beautiful women are there in the world? Your answer will be different, depending on your own ethnic background: African, European, South American, North American, Asian, etc. There may be about 6,000 different languages and this will bring many different standards of beauty—whether for the woman or the man.

Actually, we can do very little to change our innate physical attractiveness. Probably not one in a hundred girls and men are absolutely beautiful or handsome. And studies have even indicated that the best that we may find will also conclude that they are not attractive in some way. Some many think that their feet are too large, their hands are too large, or their anatomy needs an adjustment. Others think that they are too large or heavy, while others may conclude that they are too thin, too tall, or too short. Many don’t like their voice, their hair color, their hair texture, or their skin blemishes.

Further, let’s remember that a man or woman will not remain 16 or 18 years of age. Everyone who lives will become twenty-five, thirty, forty, and fifty! Everyone will have wrinkles and this will reveal age in some way. The interested reader should go over Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 as a reminder of the universality of old age progression.

How then should we look at age, ugliness, and attractiveness? One thing that we should read is 2 Corinthians 4:16 to see Paul’s perspective. “We do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” Our physical body (our outer man/woman) is “decaying” but our “inner man” is being “renewed” continually. We can do little about our outer man but we can do something about our inner man!

How is “ugliness” defined by secular books? One dictionary defines “ugly” as “very unattractive or displeasing in appearance” (Random House Webster’s College Dictionary). Another one says that this word means, “Displeasing to the eye, unsightly” (The American Heritage College Dictionary). Can we see that this term seems to have no reference to how pleasing and personable a person is but, rather, it has something to do with what we see.

It is true that one may be drawn to a person who has little or no physical attractiveness, and, if the person is pleasing, loving, kind, generous, and displays godly fruit, we may find such a person to be sweet and desirable regardless of their lack of physical desirability. On the other hand, if one is drawn to a “raving beauty”—a person who is either physically attractive because of their form and face—we may find this person to be proud, selfish, and unloving. This is not the kind of person that we should seek in looking for a life-companion!

If the person has been given (by God) both physical attractiveness as well as a wonderful personality and character, this may happen from time to time. We think that this may be rare but it is possible. We must be on our guard at all times lest we allow our fleshly or carnal perspective to overcome us and lead us astray! Let us always view all things in light of God’s perfect, undefiled Word. This is the only reliable means of evaluation!

To return to a verse that we noticed earlier, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30). God is looking for one who “fears” Him, loves Him, trusts Him, and submits to Him! Let us do likewise!

–Richard Hollerman

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