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That’s What Makes You Beautiful

A couple of months ago — when I was scolding boys for slobbering over skanky girls — SilverRain said something that has come repeatedly to my mind:

Alison, it is true that men are attracted to women, and this isn’t per se bad. What is bad is when that attraction that MEN feel become a WOMAN’S responsibility, or her value. Once we are valued by ourselves or by others by how attractive we are to men, we become objects.

SilverRain did not define specifically what was implied in being objectified, and I don’t want to make assumptions, but it was clear this was not a good thing in her opinion.

I have wondered since if valuing physical attraction is acceptable. 

Sure, as a woman of a certain age, I’m not the girl I once was. Age, sun, and 11 pregnancies have taken their toll. Not to mention chocolate. So being devalued simply because I’m not a young hottie anymore doesn’t sit well with me.

But is physical beauty any more worldly than, say, financial stability? (Something men are judged on all the time.) What about intelligence? Or ambition? Or leadership?

And don’t tell me that there isn’t a Mormon royalty, because there is. Too many relatives of GAs end up in general quorums, auxiliary presidencies, general boards, and/or as mission presidents to be coincidence. So is it bad to marry into the chosen blood line?

How do we judge people — for example, when choosing a spouse — and what criteria is acceptable criteria?

I tend to think that beauty and attraction are just part of the bundle, among many other things. And, frankly, I’d hate to “multiple and replenish the earth” with someone I wasn’t physically attracted to.

Since God gave us those attractions, I tend to think they are like any other urges: perfectly fine when managed appropriately.

What do you think about valuing others in part based on physical attraction?

{ 24 comments… add one }

  • chinnott January 24, 2013, 12:25 pm

    I don’t know, that’s a good question. My husband turned me on way before we were married. That’s normal, isn’t it?

  • Chas Hathaway January 24, 2013, 12:48 pm

    I think it’s time we stop letting the world decide what we find attractive. It’s sickening, really, what society has done to people–even in our culture. God has such a better view of things.

    And you know what? A good, moral, thought-controlling, priesthood-holding young man has such a stronger ability to see, recognize, and adore a woman’s physical beauty than those without such attributes.

    We lower our morals at the cost of our own ability to see beauty for what it really is. A person who willingly chooses to view with immoral eyes finds that no matter how much he sees, it’s never enough–it’s never “perfect” and his hunger is unquenchable and torturous. But to a person who willingly chooses to view with clean, Christlike eyes, is constantly filled with beauty, attraction, and an unlimited supply of joy and fulfillment in the presence of the person of his interest.

    I wrote a blog article a couple years ago about weight and physical attraction, http://blog.chashathaway.com/beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-god/ that this made me think about.

    Anyway, I’d love to hear other’s take on the issue.
    Chas Hathaway recently posted…Date Ideas: Just-for-Fun DatesMy Profile

  • oregonian January 24, 2013, 1:16 pm

    men are just perverts all around. they should all have their eyes gouged out and their hands removed. then wed get a fair deal.

  • pardonthedust January 24, 2013, 1:31 pm

    We judge people by all sorts of things that aren’t “eternal” in nature.

    I didn’t want to marry someone who is a slob, who can’t speak English, who watches lots of sports, or who is serious about hunting and fishing. And my husband didn’t want to marry someone who read romance novels or thought politics was boring and stupid.

    Of course physical attraction is important. God made us that way.

  • Susan Corpany January 24, 2013, 1:35 pm

    There is a notice. And there is an ogle. When I read your post, I imagined that they were ogling girls not wearing much and that this was going to be a post about reminding guys to pay attention to attractive but perhaps sufficiently clothed young ladies to encourage them not to believe they have to bare all to get attention. At 57, I’m working on becoming an “Inner Beauty Queen” but I still want to look the best I can. One day I was walking down the street with my husband in Honolulu and a woman in a tank top serving up buffet of bosom passed us. I said to my husband, “Don’t even pretend you didn’t see those. I wonder how much they cost.” He said, “Kind of like a guy with a bad toupee, if you ask me.” And that is why my husband is a keeper!

  • Alison Moore Smith January 24, 2013, 3:01 pm

    Welcome, Chas. You said:

    I think it’s time we stop letting the world decide what we find attractive.

    Does the world necessarily decide this? If so, does that change the answer? If not, does it make it acceptable?

    Didn’t really understand the second paragraph of your comment. Clarify?

    Could you explain what you mean by the “immoral eye”? And that compared to the “Christlike eye”?

    But to a person who willingly chooses to view with clean, Christlike eyes, is constantly filled with beauty, attraction, and an unlimited supply of joy and fulfillment in the presence of the person of his interest.

    It seems that your implication is that those who see physical beauty are wrong and those who have Christlike sight think everyone is beautiful. Is that correct? I’m not sure what “beauty” means if it’s evenly possessed. Things tend to be defined by the contrasts, don’t they?

    If you mean that all people have some good or something, I agree, but they aren’t the same “goods.” When can/should we notice the differences?

    I’d like to post an example.

    Years ago I was in a social dance class at BYU. We would dance with one partner and then the teacher would ask everyone to shift one position around the circle so that we had a variety of partners to dance with. There was one guy in this class who had horrendous body odor. The kind that literally makes your eyes water. He was a decent kid, but I dreaded being near him and I would not have wanted to date him because of the BO.

    I don’t for a minute think that his eternal salvation was in jeopardy due to this hygiene or health issue. But it dissipated any interest I might have had. And, frankly, there are other physical things that completely turned me off, including:

    grungy or “greasy” appearance
    obesity
    beards (yak!)(and, yes, I’ve seen painting of Christ!)
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  • Alison Moore Smith January 24, 2013, 3:13 pm

    pardonthedust, oooo, amen to English. That was on my list, too, given that I only speak English.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…100DC Day 21: Create a BreakthroughMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith January 24, 2013, 3:15 pm

    Susan Corpany, love your story. :)

    There is a notice. And there is an ogle.

    True, but neither is necessarily reflective of the underlying attraction. Whether you glance or do the full body scan, the question here is whether it’s a moral problem to notice, appreciate, value, physical attractiveness.

    What do you think?
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…“Why do they need those weapons?”My Profile

  • cambendy January 24, 2013, 3:51 pm

    “What is bad is when that attraction that MEN feel become a WOMAN’S responsibility”

    I don’t know what that means.

  • Chas Hathaway January 24, 2013, 4:13 pm

    I’m not suggesting that we should ignore physical attractiveness, or that only the “internal beauties” matter. It’s important to consider physical attractiveness when you’re looking for someone to marry. It’s a beautiful aspect of marriage.

    What I’m suggesting is that there are two ways to see physical beauty. One is to see a person and allow ourselves to have lustful, inappropriate feelings, and the other is to see a person and have respectful recognition of their beauty as a child of God.

    I’m not trying to say that all people should be seen as physically attractive. I’m saying that we shouldn’t let the world decide how we react when we see someone who we find physically attractive.

    I’m not really concerned about whether society’s standards of beauty were decided consciously or unconsciously. The problem is, society’s approach is wrong. We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard.

    I guess my comments in this case are directed toward the young men checking out the girls the way the post discribes. But I might also add that if young women know of young men doing that, they shouldn’t even consider dating those boys. They deserve better than that.

    I hope that makes sense.
    Chas Hathaway recently posted…Date Ideas: Just-for-Fun DatesMy Profile

  • Chas Hathaway January 24, 2013, 4:26 pm

    Sorry, guess I never clarified my second paragraph.

    Some mistakenly think that the gospel acts as a barrier to love. According to them, we aren’t allowing ourselves to love completely because we don’t allow ourselves to view each other with all the gushing romance available to someone without such strict standards.

    In reality, living by the Spirit, living worthily, and keeping thoughts and actions pure enhances every righteous desire. The Holy Ghost actually increases physical beauty, as well as the ability to recognize and enjoy it.

    The scripture that says, “Bridle your passions,” doesn’t stop there. It says, “Bridle your passions, that ye may be FILLED with love.” A fulness of love (and with it, physical attraction) is not possible without bridling the passions.

    Those who let passions run freely without restraint lose some of the ability to experience physical attraction, and physical attraction is sometimes replaced with lust, addiction, and darkness.

    That’s what often happens to those who intensionally view pornography. That’s one of the reasons it can destroy a relationship.
    Chas Hathaway recently posted…Date Ideas: Just-for-Fun DatesMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith January 24, 2013, 7:48 pm

    Chas, thanks for clarifying your points. Very insightful.

    I appreciate your additions to the discussion.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…100DC Day 24: Keep It SimpleMy Profile

  • martinoo January 25, 2013, 12:54 pm

    This is a really interesting question. Will think more and then comment. Hope more people give input, I need to think this through.

  • chinnott January 25, 2013, 1:42 pm

    I don’t think thinking people are beautiful is a problem. Is it wrong to think a temple is beautiful or a house or a car?

    People get all twisted up about nothing.

  • MB January 27, 2013, 10:22 pm

    I think Silver Rain was talking about the phenomenon I see in young women, LDS and not LDS, where I live. There is a huge unspoken understanding among them that their sense of confidence is tied into how interested the boys are in them. Success = guys wanting your company. The way to get that is to look beautiful and attractive all the time. Result: girls are hugely conscious of their appearances and there is a definite hierarchy of perceived success among them. They all know who the beautiful and therefore successful girls are. The least beautiful are pretty much automatically perceived as the least successful.

    That’s what needs to change. Sure, we teach girls what the young women values are but getting them to really believe that those values are things that will lead them to a place where “there confidence will wax strong” both in the presence of the Lord and in the presence of their peers and also as they look at themselves is an uphill battle. Some do get it but too many of them reach young adulthood too saturated by society’s insistence that their success and confidence depends upon the way they look and the heads they can turn. And that makes them place their sense of self-worth on the responses they get from their visual appearance, especially the responses they get from boys and men. Too many are hugely aware of themselves as visual objects and measure their success and their sense of confidence by level of response that visual gets from the opposite sex.

    And that’s anathema to what the gospel teaches about the worth of a soul.

    Being pretty is not wicked. Neither is being financially successful or smart or a good leader or an athlete or a member of a well-known family wicked in and of themselves. But when a person begins to measure his or her success or the success of others with any of those as the measuring stick, or base their sense of confidence on how others measure them with it, it is wrong. And that measuring stick is one that way too many of our young people are handed and unconsciously use and act upon every day.

    • Chas Hathaway January 28, 2013, 8:01 am

      I agree with MB. Kids of both genders need to stop getting their sense of self worth from their level of physical attractiveness. There’s nothing wrong with physical attractiveness, but our sense of self-worth should be coming from our relationship with our Father in Heaven. We are His children, and are therefore of great worth, no matter how many/few heads we turn.
      Chas Hathaway recently posted…Date Ideas: Lazy DatesMy Profile

  • MB January 27, 2013, 10:31 pm

    whoops. “their confidence”

  • Angie Gardner January 28, 2013, 7:34 am

    MB, I always appreciate your comments. Well said.

  • Sandy Grant January 28, 2013, 12:26 pm

    I think there is a big difference in trying to look attractive attractive and trying to look Sexy. Also there is a difference between a boy thinking a girl is pretty and a boy thinking about her in a sexual way.

  • jennycherie March 15, 2013, 4:44 am

    “What do you think about valuing others in part based on physical attraction?”

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with appreciating beauty in any form. And I agree that physical attraction is fine when managed and expressed appropriately. I think the problem is if we assign a certain character or personality traits or worthiness based on appearance.

    For choosing whom we marry, I think that most of it is just preference combined with being a worthy priesthood holder and praying for a confirmation that it is right.
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  • jennycherie March 15, 2013, 4:50 am

    Oh! I forgot the most important part! I tried to post before and something went wrong with my computer. One thing I have noticed, for myself, is that when I get to know a person, they become more attractive to me- male or female. There are often times that I meet someone and don’t think anything good or bad of their appearance. But when I get to know them and see their goodness, their sense of humor or whatever positive traits they have, they become more beautiful as I get to know them.
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  • MB March 15, 2013, 12:01 pm

    I think that it is natural to find symmetry and flawlessness attractive in art as well as in the human form.

    There are some serious caveats, however, that must be considered before one decides that because it is natural it doesn’t create problems or stumbling blocks.

    What comes to mind is the passage in Isaiah 53, describing Christ: “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he has no stately form nor splendor; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”

    Translated into modern English, it basically says that he was not majestic or easy on the eyes, nor did he have any physical attributes that made him attractive or beautiful to look at. We forget that truth due to the many works of art and media that portray the Savior as attractive. He apparently wasn’t.

    I have often thought that that was intentional on God’s part. We need to know whether or not we are able to see past the stumbling block of physically less attractive or physically unattractive in order to find what is of greatest worth in a potential relationship. It’s not part of the natural man to be able to do that. And if one just happily goes along doing what the natural man does, one misses out on some amazingly good possibilities in life.

    And our young people need to understand that in their heads AND in their hearts from experience. Otherwise do you suppose that they may experience disappointment when they encounter Jesus and find that he ISN’T physcially attractive? What a sad thought.

  • Amy Lockhart March 16, 2013, 9:35 am

    My husband and I met on the internet. Not such a shocking thing these days, but 14 years ago we were pioneers, especially within the church. The story is long and the events were guided by the Lord. I won’t take the time to lay it all out here, but I thought this portion would apply here.

    My husband knew I was “the one” before he even saw a picture of me. I was reluctant, to say the least, of the process of man shopping on the world wide web and honestly did it to get the spirit to quiet down and leave me alone. I hurriedly set up a profile and indignantly thought, “Fine, I’ll do it, if you’ll just stop pestering me!.” Needless to say, I did not bother to post a picture.

    After we knew we were going to get married I sent him a picture. The image of me was from the waist up and was about the size of a quarter. This was not done to test him in any way, it was just what I had on hand. By this point we had spent countless hours talking on the phone and exchanged numerous e-mails. You might say we knew everything about each other, except what our physical attraction may or may not be.

    As I was getting ready to seal the envelope, I thought to add a quick note. I wrote a simple message on a post it note and added, “p.s. I do have legs.” The next time we spoke he obviously had something he wanted to discuss with me. If memory serves me correctly he said, “I just want you to know that I was a bit shocked at first but you not having legs doesn’t change how I feel about you.” I was really confused.

    Apparently he read it as, “p.s. I do not have legs.” We cleared things up quickly and had a good laugh about it. It’s a story I often share with youth when I am privileged to work with them. They always get a good laugh too.

    The spiritual connection we started with was paramount to our being able to navigate all that life has placed in our path. It was also what attracted us to each other. Neither one of us would have picked each other out of a crowd. We were in love spiritually and that was enough. The physical aspect of things was something that came later and has been growing ever since.

    He is 10 years my senior and nothing I ever imagined as a teenager and young woman dreaming of love and marriage. 14 years and 5 children later, I can’t even begin to attempt to put into words what would have been lost had I relied on physical attraction and cultural norms to find my eternal companion.
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  • Alison Moore Smith March 16, 2013, 10:22 am

    I am so glad you took the time to post this. Lovely story. (Pun intended.) :)
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