Wanting to look presentable is great; in fact, our church leaders encourage it. However, we are also told moderation in all things; and unfortunately, the emphasis we put on appearance is tipping the scales on the side of gluttony. We’ve placed the majority of our value in the most fleeting aspect of ourselves — what we look like. We have become victims of self-objectification.
Depression, anxiety, body shame and disordered eating are just a few of the pernicious consequences that have plagued our nation in the wake of self-objectification. Having struggled with an eating disorder for the past five years, I can say that a huge contributor to my disorder was the emphasis that was put on my appearance.
Though the effects of self-objectification seem to be indelible, I believe there’s something we can do to help heal the wounds it has inflicted. My request is simple: see more. Don’t see more with your eyes, but see more in a person. A good way to start is by replacing our incessant appearance-based compliments with compliments of more value. Saying “cute shoes,” “beautiful hair” and “rockin’ body” are effortless ways to make someone feel good, but it’s reinforcing self-objectification. Instead, let’s reinforce what’s truly valuable in a person: their attitude, how they treat others, their humor and the internal characteristics that set them apart.
Once we shift our central focus away from appearance, we can find the lasting confidence and happiness God intends for us.