I remember standing in a bookstore near a signing table and “people-watching” the checkout line. There was a woman covered in tattoos. Not just sleeves, but up into her neck as well, and disappearing down into her shirt.
The man next to me lamented, “Why would a woman do that to herself? Doesn’t she know that doesn’t make her attractive to a man?!” He looked away and shook his head at the shame of it. I glanced back at him, trying to school my face.
I had to bite the inside of my cheek at the joke that a woman wakes up and wonders, “How can I serve the males in this world today, for their viewing pleasure? What would make me most attractive to ALL of them?”
I returned my gaze to the woman and her very obvious girlfriend, who was also tattooed on every bit of exposed skin. I wanted to tell him that neither was interested in attracting men, but I didn’t think that was the place to start after his question.
We needed to back up a bit.
God made woman for man because it was not good for man to be alone, yes. But he did not make all women for him. Or even all women for him to look at. Christ was clear about how not to look at a woman. I think it’s possible this is some of the context when Paul said all woman should have their hair covered. He was telling the church, no one is available to you. They are all covered, have status.
Another time I also endured a man’s complaints about a woman. He’d seen someone who’d surgically altered her butt to gross proportions. He thought no one should be allowed to do that. It wasn’t attractive… to him. I even heard a pastor talk about a movie star with too big of a butt. They were indoctrinated by the emancipated, flat butt era of the seventies and breast augmentation of the eighties. Curvy women without a thigh gap do not look good in miniskirts. Dolls with prepubescent hips and legs do.
If you were “in” in a previous decade, you’re so “out” now.
We women are just as guilty of placing a superficial value on image-bearers of God. An older woman told me recently about a naked demonstration she had accidentally viewed. I looked it up, curious why people would ride bikes without clothing. It was, in part, to protest negative body image. Her ironic commentary? “Some of those people had no business being naked in public!”
Our skin color, body shape, and how we choose to decorate ourselves should not be subject to trending whims of the masses. The masses don’t have independent thought regarding value. They like what they are told. We like what is advertised as beautiful.
If you feel the need to edit your face or figure when you upload a picture, you know what I mean. Looking around the real world you might start to think everyone is ugly. You can’t wait to see screen-worthy faces so you rush home to watch two beautiful people fall in love on camera. In the mirror, you only see flaws.
We miss out on the complexity of the aging process. The uniqueness and the variety of all stages and all humans.
The human that God created and declared “very good.” The human who God delights in. The human who bears his image.
The thing is, you weren’t made for the sole viewing pleasure of the masses.
God did make something for your wonder and viewing pleasure: the world. Although it’s nice when we delight in the beauty of each other—you were made for his viewing pleasure first. And he said it was very good.
My sons, my daughter, my friend—think about that when you look in the mirror. Or when you get a tattoo.