Beauty, Part VIII ~ A Man’s Perspective

My friend Pete recently made the comment that “much of this pressure on women to look a certain way has little to do with meeting guys’ expectations … It seems to be far more about meeting the expectations or gaining approval from other women.” I thought this was really interesting because among all the different reasons we have seen that motivate us as women to measure up to a beauty ideal, you would naturally think that being attractive to men, or a particular man, is pretty high on the list.

What Pete has highlighted though is a difference between the standards that we as women hold ourselves to, and what men see as beautiful in us. So if that’s the case, what do men find beautiful and attractive? What do men think? These are obviously big questions and the answers will naturally be unique to each man, but the good news is that I have some wonderful friends at church and at work who agreed to give us a glimpse at least into the perspectives that men have. It’s really interesting what they had to say …

What do you find most beautiful about your wife or girlfriend, or women in general?

“… for me it’s everything, it’s every tiny little molecule of her, inside and out. It’s really the person she is in her entirety that is irreplaceably beautiful to me” – Ryan.

“Her smile, she has a warmth that welcomes you, her love for others” – Mark.

“Her smile. When a woman is comfortable with who she is, and how she looks, her beauty radiates through her smile” – James.

“Confidence in who they are, and a desire to make the most of what God’s given them – their talents and abilities and their physical wellbeing … I love Katy’s genuineness, her infectious laugh and mischievous smile, her lovely long blonde hair, her gorgeous hourglass figure, her incredible sense of style” – Pete.

“Her inner beauty. That is what I find most beautiful about my fiancé. This beauty flows from the inside, and her actions and outward beauty are enhanced by her inner beauty … I believe inner beauty is when we live by the Spirit. The ‘fruit of the Spirit’ (Galatians 5) … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. These characteristics which are shown in the life of my fiancé are what make her beautiful. Her outward beauty is an added bonus – THE ICING ON THE CAKE!!!!” – Obed.

Do you think women put too much pressure on themselves to look a certain way?

“Yes I do. The media sets impossible standards. Women who are bigger wish they were smaller and women who are smaller wish they were bigger. Women need to focus on what they like about themselves and not the things they might want to change” – James.

“Definitely. It’s one thing to look good. It’s another thing to bow to the pressures society places on you. This is difficult though because when the majority of women do this, and you don’t, you stand out” – Mark.

“Absolutely! Women in general have become inherently negative about their bodies, our culture demands they relentlessly strive to reach an unattainable standard which in truth will never be good enough!” – Ryan.

“Some do. And the ones that do are being influenced by what they are currently feeding on. The Bible says, “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” Proverbs 23:7 … So most of the women that feel pressure to look a certain way, are probably feeding their minds on celebrity magazines/media etc. Media always depict women looking ‘perfect.’ The perfect figure. Perfect features. No wrinkles etc. So many women see that, and feel that if they are not like what they see (which is all artificial – not real) then there is something wrong with them. After this thought comes pressure. And continued pressure to look or be what you are not, leads to stress, depression, low self-esteem etc.

Women should see themselves through the eyes of God. They need to know what God thinks about them. They need to know that they are fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14). They need to know that before they were formed in their mother’s womb God knew them (Jeremiah 1:5). They need to know that God knitted them in their mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).

The above is just a snippet of what God thinks about them. Instead of feeding their thoughts with what the media says women should be like, they need to feed their thoughts on the word of God. The word of God will help them know what God thinks of them…..and that’s all that matters. When this is known, the pressure to look a certain way will be lifted” – Obed.

“Different women obviously want different things, but in general I think “the media” (e.g. magazines, TV movies, advertising etc) creates huge expectations about what women should look like and how they should behave and what they should be able to manage” – Pete.

If you are around a woman who is extremely focused on the way she looks, what do you think or feel about this?

“I wonder if she is allowing this to take up too much of her life. I also wonder what she is missing out on by not spending time on other things” – Mark.

“I see the struggle and feel sad for them. I want to tell them that they don’t need the struggle; that it is actually a choice and they can change their choice. It is actually quite boring to focus on these issues all the time and other people will grow tired of it” – James.

“Women who are extremely focused on their outward appearance are like this because of their ‘food for thought’ … Their focus is on themselves. Their focus should be on the One who created them ” – Obed.

“If they have little or no time or interest in others then I’d quickly find them tiresome and rather shallow. However this person may still manage to sow into others while maintaining this focus. Another woman may not focus on these things at all, but could spend her days watching TV, reading mags, betting on the horses or eating McD’s – hardly commendable alternatives!” – Pete.

“Sadly I would dismiss this as normal” – Ryan.

If you were able to say something encouraging to a woman who really struggles with the way she looks, what would it be?

“As the key starting point: What does God say about you? The popular saying is that it’s hard to love others if you don’t love yourself. God loves us as we are. I think he does want us to move on and build on what (the “talents”) he’s given, but not as a basis for his, or our own, or others’ acceptance and approval.

Being confident is attractive, and interestingly, looking-good or being physically attractive is a confidence booster – they’re related elements, but if one starts by trying to gain confidence or acceptance by looking good the focus is likely to be selfish, never satisfying and provide little scope for sowing positively into others” – Pete.

“I would say, you’re going about it the wrong way, doing it the world’s way is an endless and fruitless battle. Begin to learn who you are in God, start to understand the woman he created you to be, and the beauty will start to flow from the inside out affecting the way you look and feel. True beauty is about the whole person, there is nothing more attractive than a woman who has taken up the challenge to be the beautiful creation God created her to be” – Ryan.

“Beauty is made up not only by appearance or only by personality but by the whole package” – Mark.

“See yourself the way God sees you. To do this you need to know what God thinks about you. To know what God thinks about you, read the letters He wrote for you. And where are these letters? They are all contained in THE BIBLE” – Obed.

Interesting, huh? One thing that struck me was how these men consistently found beauty in everything a woman is – “every tiny little molecule of her” as Ryan said. And when describing what is beautiful about their wives in particular, it is primarily about her temperament and personality and the way this comes through in her appearance – a radiant smile, an infectious laugh, warmth and love for others and the way she reflects the fruit of God’s Spirit such as joy and gentleness.

It’s funny that we as women can really dissect ourselves and focus on the “bits” we dislike. Our criterion is often so “physical.” Yet when you ask a man for his view about beauty, it’s not even really physically focused at all – at least in these answers. Men see in a different way. I thought the comments were quite freeing for us as women.

Obed made the point that we as women “need to know what God thinks about [us] … and that’s all that matters. When this is known, the pressure to look a certain way will be lifted.” Tomorrow we are going to be amazingly blessed to hear what He does think about us, and the way the pressure can be lifted as we grow in His perspective. Come back then for, Letting God Define Us.

* A big thank you to Pete, James, Mark, Obed and Ryan.

© Copyright 2007 Birgit Whelan

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~ by Birgit on August 17, 2007.

6 Responses to “Beauty, Part VIII ~ A Man’s Perspective”

  1. My wife Julia had an ash blond type of hair. It had been that way from when she was young. She was buried under rubble in the blitz and some time before she was found. Often when out for dinner some wife would send her husband to ask what colour she was using. The hair brought people to her, but it was the grace of God that she walked in that was the atraction.Yesterday i gave away one of our spiritual dughters at her wedding. Julia was in hospital and this girl who was there as well asked her right out of the blue. will you be my mum, it is not the looks it is what is inside that realy counts. She was content in our lord Jesus and it showed. A Godly woman will be a beuty to behold anywhere. and the bonus? she has wisdom, the bible says so!

  2. Hmmmm……
    Why is it that women just think all we men want to do is have sex and lust after thier bodies? That just comes from the goofy magazines we see on the newsstands with the unabashed and blatant sex articles and the myriad of skanks adorning them .
    A women is much more than that. She is love, warmth,companionship, company, help, solace, joy,someone to comfort and be comforted,someone a man wants to be around, a source of inspiration,maybe a bit of perspiration sometimes lol.That is the true beauty men find so attractive about females, that God just designed them so interesting to be around. I just cant figure out why so many women just think of us the way magazines say we are.

  3. This is such a refreshing perspective which has eased my spirit in some ways. Great stuff Birgs.

    xx

  4. check out the modesty survey at http://www.therebelution.com
    It was a blessing to be to see these perspectives.

  5. Okay, so my opinion of why women are so hard on themselves regarding their bodies or the way they look is, because when we are in a relationship with a man or marriage or engaged, and we are depserately wanting to ALWAYS please our man; never lose his attention and focus, we find that inevitably they ARE going to look at other women! Why? Why do men look at other women IF they are COMPLETELY satisfied at home with who they are with? My fiance’ and I had a discussion one day. Some friends of ours went to the beach and some, obviously trashy, woman lay next to them and removed her bathing siut top. I asked my fiance’ what he might have done…(ie. move to another spot?). His response was that he would proably want to move. I asked if he would look at her, and he said yes, probably. I asked why he thought he would look at her, and he said “I don’t know, curiosity I guess.” Curiosity in what exactly? If you have a woman next to you, and you know ALL women have the same package, why would a man be curious to look at another woman? So, I asked what his definition of curious was…he stated probably curious about the unknown… the unknown…like, a man doesn’t know what a woman’s body, in general, looks like? Now, my fiance’ is a man of God, who takes in study daily and wants NOTHING more than God’s perfect will in his life. he is also very honest, and would NEVER lie to me, so I bring a lot of insecurity upon myself. However, these are questions I ask, because obviously if he is noticing other women he isn’t satisfied with the one he is with…ME!

    Why aren’t men satisfied with their women they have, and if they are satisfied why would they even care to look or find out what another woman is or has?

    I say, it is not so much the media or magazines, it is that we see our men noticing othe types of bodies on women, and this makes us feel that we need to look a completely different way entirely! Men are with who they’re with, because they know that, “she is the type of woman I SHOULD be with;” NOT really waiting for the type of woman they feel idealy fits their desire or schema. Why don’t men wait? Why are they in such a hurry to be with someone? All that will happen from a rash decision is 5-10 years after commitment they will continue their subconcious search for the type of woman they think is what they really want…

    -Confused

  6. Dear Elle, thank you so much for your thoughts and insights on this topic.
    It is true that we as women can feel hurt, insecure and even “not enough” if our husbands/fiances/boyfriends look at other women in terms of their bodies, attractiveness etc. We can take this to heart and it can even make us feel vulnerable sometimes.
    One thing I have learnt more about through Christian teaching is the battle that a lot of men have in this area. That even in loving relationships, and with intentions to honour us and honour God, this can be an ongoing area of struggle. Something where so much of God’s grace is needed. That God would continue to strengthen our husbands, strengthen our marriages and strengthen us too. God bless, and thanks again for your insights.

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