And you are beautiful. But do you know it? Do you want it?
I have often heard from my fellow women that every woman should and wants to feel “sexy.” I would like to challenge that notion and say that every woman should feel, and is, incredibly beautiful. No, I don’t mean that photoshopped cover of Cosmo or Vogue, I mean the beauty that comes from who you are, what you love, the way you love, the things that make you talk really fast when you’re excited, the friendships you hold, your inherent dignity, and who you were created to be.
You were created with a beauty that has the power to save the world, and sexy just does not cut it.
Woman, from her creation, brought about a beauty that broke the boundaries of self. Adam, having been created whole and good, roamed the garden of Eden alone – perfectly satisfied. And while Eve’s creation gave Adam a partner, he may have felt no need for one. However, God’s call for us is much greater than to live complacently within ourselves. Through God’s creation of Eve, original solitude was overcome and Adam was called out of himself to serve and protect (till) everything within the garden.
Today, I see a time when the beauty of women and its true power is lowered to the physical appeal which she holds – the ability to attract man through his eyes. Women everywhere today want to be sexy.
But what does it take to be…sexy? Now, being sexy is taken to mean you are desirable, confident, powerful all wrapped up into one very tiny little word. But I believe that we as women, in our hearts, know that this is a lie. Sexiness is, in itself, constituted by sex. Sadly, the world doesn’t see sex as a life giving love, but satisfaction and personal gratification. A quick google search on the meaning of sexy simply yields “sexually attractive, exciting, and sexually aroused.” Sexy is how much of your body you’ll show, what kind of figure you have, sexy takes away our power because it is determined by someone else finding us attractive. When someone tries to be sexy, the focus truly tends to be lust. When I think of sexy, I think of women who hide who they truly are behind their own skin, the rise of pornography use among both men and women, the growth of utilitarian relationships, and the constant objectification of our bodies.
When we see sexy for what it really is, and not some idealized quick way to be desirable or falsely empowered, do we want to be sexy? Do we really want to be lusted after; or do we just want to be loved? As women, our hearts were made to be shared. We were made to cultivate and partake in authentic love, but our longing for it – right now – has led us to settle for the sexy counterfeit.
But what will make way for that authentic love? Your beauty, your womanhood, your heart, some standards.
Now, what is beauty?
Another lovely google search will lead to the following result: of a very high standard, excellent, lovely, charming, engaging, ravishing, gorgeous, stunning, glamorous, graceful, elegant, exquisite, magnificent. But for me, the first things I think of when I hear beauty are the ways in which we encounter God in this world – truth, beauty, goodness.
Throughout history, women have inspired different reflections on the good and the beautiful alike. The Greeks even coined the word “kalokagathia,” meaning beauty-goodness. As Plato said, “The potency of the Good has found refuge in the nature of the Beautiful.” In different translations, good can also mean beautiful.
And as for truth, I see it in the truth that we hold deep in our being: that we are daughters of the King, that God’s truth will always collide with what is good and beautiful. And when we understand the beauty that we hold, we are no longer trying to attract lustful attention, and we too become a part of that truth. Then come those standards.
There is freedom in the boundaries we set, freedom in being able to be seen for what we are – and that is beautiful. Those boundaries can include different things, but I think of what we put on the vessels of our beauty – our bodies. Clothes have a sort of communicative power; we don’t need to wait until we feel worthy to reflect that to the world. *
The world needs who you are as a woman. Everyone in it is descended from the power of the beauty that you hold. Women, I challenge you to believe that you are beautiful, I challenge you to believe that you are worthy, I challenge you to leave behind sexy, I challenge you to change the world through who you are and what you desire.
Through desiring to be sexy, we settle to be labeled and seen as something that we are not meant to be. Women, as your beauty was needed in the garden, your beauty is desperately needed now. Through the way in which you embrace your beauty, you have the power to bring man and the women around you out of the world, and out of the self-gratification that the culture of today offers. Your beauty is powerful, and it should move hearts – not body parts.
*This is not to say that the woman who dresses revealingly is not worthy of respect, but there is a true difference between a woman who deserves respect, and a woman who commands respect through the way she conducts herself and the way that she dresses. I promise, this is not me trying to supress your sexuality, (men need also be respectful of themselves and chaste, but i’m a woman, so I’m speaking to you). This is me, saying that you are much more than that. Saying that the very things that so many women have long fought for, are the very things that objectify us. I want to make it clear that no matter who you are and what you choose, I love you. I love you for what you are, and that is forever beautiful.
“To a great extent, the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”
— The Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen