A Modern Lady's Appearance
By Dr. Emily Dean, Coordinator of Women's Programs
In this post on what it means to be a modern lady, we’re going to explore what a modern lady looks like. Appropriate appearance is a highly debated topic, especially among Christian women. The question we’re looking at here is not so much what to wear or not wear, but instead what is the heart issue behind what it means to look like a lady. In a social media world, appearance concerns for women of all ages have only increased as we have more opportunities to compare ourselves to others. Instead of just being deluged by the media, we are now inundated by what everyone else looks like on any given day. I mean think about this, how many times have you altered a photo of yourself that you posted online, even if it was just to remove the red eye?
Most of us want to look our best, but when we alter images of ourselves so much that we completely change who God made us to be in the process, then it’s time to ask ourselves an important question. Does this image bring glory to me or glory to God? The bigger issue here with appearing like a lady is, what brings glory to God in what you wear and how you present yourself? To examine this question, here are a few points I have come across in my research on appearance.
1) Contentment is the opposite of resentment –
At the heart of nearly all appearance related matters is the issue of contentment. Are you content with who God created you to be and how He created you to look? If you are content with your appearance, you will be less likely to hide your appearance behind oversized clothes or show off your appearance with less than you should wear. Often negative body image can lead to either. Constantly comparing yourself to others will only lead to resentment because there will always be someone you think looks better than you. So much Scripture speaks to this issue of contentment. Memorizing and applying God’s word is the best way to combat negative thoughts about the way you look. Here are a few of my favorites and a snapshot of what they teach us:
Psalm 139:13-14 – You have been fearfully and wonderfully made.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – Take every false thought captive – That includes those negative thoughts you may think about the way you look!
Galatians 1:10 – We do not seek to please men but to please God.
1 Peter 3:3-4 – Beauty in God’s eyes is not outward but inward.
2) When in doubt, just change it out –
My rule of thumb is, if you have doubts about whether or not something you are wearing is appropriate, it’s better just to change it out. If not, you will continually be self-conscious. Then your focus is on you rather than who or what your focus should be on. Again, ask yourself if you are bringing glory to you because you want people to notice you, or if you are bringing glory to God because you chose to look your best? One way to answer this question is to consider whether or not you would be a distraction to others by how you look. Is it about getting attention or pleasing the Lord?
3) Look your best, don’t worry about the rest –
Just as obsessing over your appearance keeps your focus on you, so does the opposite of neglecting your appearance altogether. Giving glory to God in our appearance does not mean that we disregard taking care of ourselves. Neglecting our appearance generally only leads to low self-esteem. The goal is rather than thinking less of ourselves, we think about ourselves less. In Philippians 2:3-4, we are reminded that we should consider others more than we consider ourselves. Here we are not told that we should avoid considering ourselves. We do that automatically by default. Instead, we are told that we should strive to think about others as much or more than we think about ourselves. If we are focused on our own appearance, then it’s hard to be focused on others.
Ultimately the issue of being a lady in our appearance comes down to having a heart to please God. Do you desire to bring glory to Him in all that you do? That’s the most important question to ask yourself when looking in the mirror.
Dr. Emily Dean serves as Adjunct Faculty and Coordinator of Women’s Programs at NOBTS. You can follow her at emilywdean.com.