I recently read a romance novel that has me thinking. As a writer, I tend to have a strong romantic element in my novels, and I honestly admit that I enjoy writing and reading about attractive characters. However, I felt like this novel I read crossed a bit of a line in that regard where the hero was concerned.
The heroine of the story, beautiful herself, we know from how other characters describe her, gushes time and time again about how GORGEOUS the hero is. The other women in the story seem to agree. He’s tall. He’s chiseled–face and body. His eyes are captivating. He’s strong. He’s… Well, if there’s a good physical trait, he probably has it, and it seems like all the women who’ve seen him have noticed.
Emotionally, he’s a mess, but of course, he’s well on the path to healing that by the end of the book. This guy is perfect.
And only realistic for maybe .01% of the population. Maybe.
For me, spending so much time reading about the good looks of this character bred a noticeable sense of discontentment. I love my husband. Please understand that. But he and every other husband I’ve seen, except maybe two on TV or in movies (Oh, wait. Nope. Those characters aren’t married.), do not measure up to the perfection I just spent hundreds of pages dwelling on.
Our culture–and this includes me–is obsessed with beauty. We read books, watch movies, and follow TV shows that all feature the ideal of the physical world. Beauty attracts us. Of course it does. I’m not suggesting that we need to forget all about it. But in this book, and I’m guessing in some area of each of our lives, physical beauty becomes an obsession. When we obsess over looks, we overlook the true value of the people God has placed in our lives, ourselves included, and that path can lead to destruction.
We grow discontent with ourselves and maybe our spouses. We value the physical over the emotional and spiritual. We compare ourselves to those closest to us, and we lose the battle. We start putting ourselves down, sometimes while complimenting someone we love and admire. (Having been on the receiving end of one of those compliments, let me say that a comment like that makes me sad without flattering me at all. You just dissed someone I love! You!) We starve ourselves to attain the right jean size. We tan ourselves into skin cancer. We… You get the picture.
Beauty is just one positive trait in a huge, long list of positive traits that are out there. And physical beauty is skin-deep and fleeting, anyway. So, let’s try to appreciate beauty without obsessing over it. Let’s thank God for it without making it our main focus. And let’s refuse to lose sight of our own God-given value, because, trust me, he created you with value and purpose that is so much more than how you look.
Photo credit: Unsplash.com, Zach Minor