Aesthetics: the Goddess of Acceptance

Submitted by Damaris Ann on Tue, 07/17/2018 - 23:54

The culture of today is focused on aesthetics. To some it may be no more than just a word, but to others it is the air we breathe. It is what we are trying to achieve in the way we dress, the way our room is decorated, the angle of our selfie or the appearance of the food on our plate at lunch. To some, aesthetics is the goddess of acceptance.

We turn our personal lives into an aesthetic environment where everything, even our plastered smiles, is Instagram perfect and fits our theme. If our friend doesn’t “fit” the aesthetic they are either left out, asked to change, or we just filter their face so they won’t stick out like a sore, non-aesthetic thumb. Some are even shallow enough to choose the friends they hang out with based on whether or not such friends are aesthetically pleasing, or fit their own personal aesthetic. Talk about being a diva; that takes the cake.

I’ve even seen mental illnesses turned into an aesthetic setting. There is a trending hashtag, #bloodaesthetics (mostly used to beautify self-harm or to glorify gore) and many “thin inspiration” aesthetic accounts for those with Anorexia and/or Bulimia, as well as several self-harm and suicide aesthetic accounts. People take something so dark and painful and turn it into this eye candy for others to enjoy. I find that sick, and honestly just wonder where all this madness will end.

Aesthetics, very simply, means “having a sense of the beautiful” and although I understand how appealing that is and believe that there is a place for it, I think we can take it too far. We are turning life into something artificial and shallow and forgetting about the importance of what lies underneath the surface.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy and love beautiful things. But life is not all beauty, and there is a valid place for the pain and the ugliness. I feel like my generation needs to take a step back and ponder the blood, sweat, and tears that brought us to where we are today. If we understood what our ancestors went through to pay for our freedom, we’d care a little less about how our perfectly manicured nails look while we hold up our $8 coffee and worry a little more about our intentions when we do and say the things we do.

I’m not saying that we should seek to be flawed and broken; not at all. My point is that we should take this life more seriously, and stop spending so much time, effort, and money on trying to look #flawless and fit our current aesthetic theme. These things are too trivial and transient to waste our time on even though they may seem so big and important to us right now.

When we stand on the edge of time as we know it, the things that seem so big to us now will be like tiny specks of pin-point sized glitter sitting in the palm of our hands. We will pause when we step over that small ledge that lets us fall into eternity and blow it away with a breath of resignation. As we fade away into forever that small backdrop of shimmering dust will remind us that all of these moments we’ve held on to in life are but a vapor, made only as a reminder that what matters is Whose Spirit resides within us. For by the time the glitter falls to the ground, we will either be resting in the Father’s arms, or cast away into eternal fires which are fueled by His hate for sin. By then we will have forgotten that the glitter ever even existed; so far will it be from our thoughts.

So acknowledge the brokenness, and let God use it to mould you into something deeper and better and of more value than a Barbie girl or a gypsy. Love the flaws that make you so relatable because empathy for others is worth more than a thousand likes on Instagram.

Your humanity is a reflection of the Deity who purchased your freedom with His own blood, and I’m pretty sure He wasn’t worried about how aesthetically pleasing the crown of thorns looked on His head. He bore the wrath of God so that we could be free to live and to love and to serve Him. God doesn’t care about what shade of blue your tears are; He cares about your soul. So please stop squandering your time on color schemes and font sizes and start living for something greater and more beautiful than any retro red lip shade could ever be.

Author's age when written

WARNING: please do not look up the hashtag listed. :)


Very well thought out, Damaris. Our focus should not be on our appearance, but on who God is and how truly awesome He is. Well done!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

This is definitely a topic I've spent time pondering. The beautification of gore or self harm reminds me of scarring practices in some cultures, used as a beauty trend. But there's also a part of our culture that seems obsessed with gore simply because it has shock value (at least, that's the reason I've given myself when I try to explain the popularity of The Walking Dead). I read in The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth about some teen culture glorifying size 0 among girls - leading to, at high school parties, guys indulging in pizza while girls skip the meal entirely, only ordering a lemon water if they are very hungry. I cannot tell you how inexplicably angry that made me (maybe I just really wanted a pizza when I first read that?)

Then there's our cultures schizophrenia with weight. I get so sick and tired about seeing advertisements for weight loss, using models for the "before" picture that don't need to lose weight at all. It's sickening, really. I remember a photograph (in a Woman's Health magazine, no less) that showed a woman pinching what looked to me like a flat stomach with a headline saying "How to Get Ready of the Last of that Stubborn Fat." But there's also the reverse of this trend - glorifying obesity. Of course overweight women are beautiful. (Women are beautiful creatures made by a God who delighted in making them!) But there's also an importance to being healthy, right? Some girls are naturally thicker, others naturally a size 0 - but please don't make all these drastic changes your eating/exercise habits to get the shape you want.

Aesthetics - I saw on that it concerns the Philosophy of beauty, art, etc. or else a particular Theory on beauty, art, etc. I tend to think of it in terms of general philosophy - there are different theories on Aesthetics, but the general study of it is something that I enjoy. Mostly because I like the beauty of art and music and literature. But yes, there are some very odd - and also very twisted - theories of aesthetics as well. I totally agree that there is a place for seeing the pain and the ugliness of things, without them being glorified!

I also love to see what the Bible has to say about beauty. Like in Ezekiel 16, when God bestows bracelets, necklaces, crowns, perfumes, and fine clothes on Israel - a metaphor for the grace He gave His people. I love that. God bestowing beauty as a sign of His salvation. Then there's also the prophecy of Jesus in Isaiah 53:2: "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him." And yet - Jesus was magnetic, drawing crowds and disciples wherever He went. I love that so much too!

Thought-provoking essay, loved reading! Also: "love your flaws." :) I like that. I think of my flaws as features, really - whether or not I or others see them as 'flaws' really depends a lot more on what kind of people they are and not who I am before my King.

Your essay speaks the truth that we all need to hear. It's so easy to get caught up in making ourselves "beautiful and pleasing", and yet that sucks in everything we are and takes our focus onto the wrong things. The ultimate goal is that our focus be on Christ always, and that should mold the way we dress, how we look, how we act. Thank you for this reminder of truth. :)

My favourite aspect of this essay is how you bring it around to each individual soul's eternal fate.

When trying to escape frivolity it can be easy to move away from that which is most obviously superficial to something that is less surface oriented but is ultimately temporal and just a more sophisticated kind of frivolousness -- the vanity of intellectualism, for example. The only source of true earnestness is acknowledging that you are an eternal soul and that you stand before your Maker.

Also realizing that your judgment comes from God is the true source of deliverance from serving a goddess of human acceptance. Your essay isn't mostly about living for beauty just for it's own sake (which would not be a good way to live), but about something even worse: using beauty as a kind currency for gaining social status. Again, this comes from not worshipping the One who should be worshipped but instead worshipping human acceptance and social status which should not be worshipped. That's what I think you're getting at when you finish your first paragraph "To some, aesthetics is the goddess of acceptance," but it's not explicitly fleshed out.

Blood aesthetics is troubling, and almost seems that it could have its own essay and particular analysis. But you don't have to wade into that darkness anymore, if you don't want to. Just keep telling the good news and shining the light of truth:)

And he was just wondering, for he was a severe critic of his own work, whether that last line couldn't be polished up a bit...
~P.G. Wodehouse

Thank you all so much for your comments. I’ve read them all over many times and I can’t tell you all how much I appreciate your thoughts as well as your words of encouragement.

I don’t thrive off of chaos: chaos thrives off of me.

Thank you for this. A wonderful reminder, as I'm one of those "aesthetic" people mentioned. I really enjoy the beauty in things, and it can often get to wear I care TOO much. A great reminder. :)

“planting seeds inevitably changes my feelings about rain.” —luci shaw.
psalm 84:10 esv.