by Kimberly Davidson
Have you noticed how we always package ourselves for “public consumption”? Here’s the million-dollar question: Why is it we want to be as attractive as possible? Why do we spend so much time, energy, and money on our outside appearances and just as much energy camouflaging our faults as best we can?
On Facebook, Instagram, and other social media, we spend a great deal of time presenting upgraded versions of ourselves. Neuroscience studies reveal that attractive people activate the reward centers of our brains. Even babies are biased toward attractive people. New-born infants, not even a day old, prefer to look at attractive compared to unattractive faces. They look at attractive faces longer when given the choice. It takes us as adults just a quick glance to know whether a face is attractive or not. Undisputed studies for decades confirm that we naturally and unconsciously like to see attractive faces—they are rewarding and pleasurable to our brains. I find that quite interesting considering the majority of us are just “average looking.”
So, companies hire attractive people more often, despite the fact there are equally qualified or better qualified people. The attractive employees tend to make more money. And we want to have relationships with them—badly. This is the reason, I believe, we are continually seeking the “perfect look.” Unfortunately, we make inaccurate assumptions about other qualities of the so-called attractive person. Scripture supports this: “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
It goes deeper than mere outer attractiveness. When the reward centers in the brain are activated we receive a perceived reward. What is the reward? I feel I’m accepted, included, admired, competent, even loved. Therefore, I’m seeking to get my needs met by trying to be more attractive. Our society has made strides. We’ve got plus size models and average-looking actors playing parts on TV and in advertisements. Yet, it still appears to be the minority. Because our brains get rewarded when they see attractiveness, it seems it’s a losing battle to turn it around—to focus on our insides; on our hearts. But Christians have Love living inside of them.
We’ve heard it a thousand times, “Don’t worry about man’s opinion. Focus on God,” “Present your real self. Be vulnerable!” The math is simple. If we focus on God then we’ll be more concerned about working on heart issues versus appearance issues. We’re willing to become more transparent and real. When Jeremiah 29:11 becomes real, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope,” we get can excited about Kingdom outcomes not this world’s outcomes. This is a great challenge for each one of us, including me. We can become less focused on the outside if we remain connected to God. The key is deciding that He is going to be our sole source of acceptance. Proverbs 31:30 reminds, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
If you have fallen into the trap of seeking to get your needs met through focusing on your outside appearance, I encourage you today to decide to receive God’s acceptance into your soul. It’s all you really need. When our heavenly Father approves of us, then when we see beautiful people parading around us, it won’t make us feel unworthy because our spirit is being nurtured and fed by the Father’s Spirit. Scripture tells us that we are “complete” in Him (Colossians 2:9-10). Dictionary.com says “complete” means to lack nothing; be full; finished; to make perfect. You are complete in Him! Believe it.