The Lure of the Idol of Beauty

Last night our television was on, but I wasn’t really paying attention to it. I did note my husband flipping through a report featuring an aging television star who has clearly gone through a number of facelifts—common among celebrities and the wealthy. Beauty is a very popular idol.

I have to admit that I hate looking in the mirror. Yet I know the beauty culture is the antithesis of God’s view of me. I would never have surgery simply to improve my appearance, but I still wish I could look better! The pull of beauty is so pervasive that it’s almost impossible for any of us to feel good about ourselves. I have to watch my thoughts to be sure I am not falling prey to the idol.

The culture defines us by our bodies rather than by God’s assessment, the truth of Scripture. In bowing to the beauty idol, women suffer from eating disorders and spend countless dollars on plastic surgery and recovery. And idols are never satisfied; they constantly call for more. We must buy newer clothes, get a tan, implant our breasts, diet, yada, yada, yada.

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made” is God’s perspective. Psalm 139 says that he formed us and wove us uniquely. Each of us has body parts that we would love to change to become a “10”, but God made us each distinctive, one of a kind, both body and soul. When we don’t believe truth and fall for the lies of the enemy, we bow before beauty.  We worship our false god with our time, money, and attention, unable to live the abundant life of faith.

So how do we overcome the cultural messages? We confess the sin of idolatry. We avoid as many of these messages as possible (magazines, etc.), replacing them with the truth of the Word. We learn contentment, believing that God, who doesn’t make mistakes, sees us as beautiful. We seek our identity in him, not in our physical appearance. We shift our focus to developing inner beauty and finding our sufficiency in God’s unconditional love.

How have you seen the idol of beauty impact the way you think about yourself? How do you avoid such messages?

This blog post originally appeared 2/21/2011 on Beyond, which is no longer online.

Kay is a life-long Texan whose favorites are Tex-Mex, books that feed her soul or make her think, good movies and travel to new places. Her great joy is to serve God by teaching the Bible and developing women as servant-leaders. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Beyond Ordinary Women Ministries, which provides free videos, podcasts and articles as well as low-cost Bible studies to prepare Christian women for leadership. (beyondordinarywomen.org) Kay spent ten years leading women’s ministries on church staffs, most recently at Northwest Bible Church in Dallas. Kay is the author of From Ordinary Woman to Spiritual Leader: Grow your Influence, a practical guide to help Christian women influence others by applying foundational leadership skills to their lives and ministries, and a number of Bible studies for women, some are available at bible.org and the newer ones are found at beyondordinarywomen.org. Kay earned an M.A.C.E. from Dallas Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Effective Ministries to Women. Kay’s family includes a husband, two grown children, one son-in-law, two hysterical granddaughters and a Goldendoodle.


  • Sara Alexander

    Thanks, Kay.

    Great encouragement.  I often wonder where the line is.   It's difficult not to judge Christians who go to what I consider sinful extremes – surgery, starvation, addiction to exercise, provocative clothing, etc..  However, I'm aware that it's all relative.  Is dental work evidence of not accepting how God made us?  What about coloring our hair?   When did it become unthinkable for a woman to grey naturally???   I don't have the answers, but I do think that there may be more involved with this idol than first occurs to us.   I wish we could all go au natural and stop the madness.  Sounds really freeing.  Thanks for stirring up thought.

  • Kay Daigle

    Tough questions

    Sara, It is difficult to figure out the boundaries, as you so well state. It really has more to do with our motivations and our purpose than a list of do's or don't's. All of these can be symptomatic of idolatry or self rather than God. Even the willingness to spend our money this way is something that should cause us to think about God's priorities for our finances. Going au natural does sound freeing! Thanks for the call to careful thinking.