Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder

By:  Stacey Tuttle

“They do surgery in the Capitol to make people appear younger and thinner.  In District 12, looking old is something of an achievement since so many people die early.  You see an elderly person, you want to congratulate them on their longevity, ask the secret of survival.  A plump person is envied because they aren’t scraping by like the majority of us.  But here it is different. Wrinkles aren’t desirable.  A round belly isn’t a sign of success.”[1]


How would our American ideals of beauty change if we (rather, like Katniss) lived in a place where people were starving to death?  Would we still think it attractive to be ultra-thin if it was no longer a choice to be skinny, but a result of necessity?  I wonder.

When you see life through Katniss’ eyes, the eyes of someone who literally has to struggle every day just to keep food on the table so her family doesn’t starve, suddenly your perspective on what’s really beautiful changes.  Suddenly beauty is more about character than appearance.  Suddenly a round belly is beautiful because it means your loved ones aren’t starving to death, and wrinkles are lovely because they mean you are still alive against all odds.

I think the most surprising thing about beauty though, for me, is how my perspective of it can change when I see it through someone else’s eyes.

Maybe this can illustrate my point.  Every year the photography students’ first assignment was to photograph an egg in black and white.  An egg.  I would look at the pictures and wonder what on earth made this or that one so special.  I didn’t get it…until I took photography and learned to look at those pictures from my teacher’s perspective.  I learned to see them from an artist’s and a photographer’s perspective.  Now I see those same pictures which did nothing for me before with a sense of profound appreciation.   The pictures didn’t change, but my understanding of them did.

We get so caught up trying to follow (or be) the ideal of beauty, according to the world’s ever-changing standards.  The thing is, the world is just the created thing, not the Creator.  To truly understand what is beautiful, we must look to the One who knows how to evaluate the creation.  I had to learn from my photography teacher how to evaluate if that picture of the egg was good or not.  We have to learn from God how to evaluate what is truly lovely.

Do you know that God looked at all that He had made and He called it good?[2]  The Psalmist writes,

You created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.[3]

God made you.  He made you beautifully.  He made you beauty-full, full of beauty.

The worth of a thing is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it.  E-bay will teach you that.   Nothing has ever fetched a higher price than YOU.  God loved you so much that He paid for you with the life of His only son, Jesus.[4]  He did that because He found you lovely.  You are beautiful in His sight, just as you are—no surgeries, no alternations, no special diets, no gym required.

If you could see yourself through His eyes, you would know just how beautiful you really are.  And if you could learn to see others through His eyes, you would find them just as stunning as He does.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  The trick is learning to see through the eyes of the right beholder.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Where do you think your concept of beauty comes from?  How much do you think your ideas of beauty are influenced by your culture?
  • What evidences do you see of culture manipulating the standards of beauty from year to year?
  • Have you ever had a time when your appreciation of some thing or some person changed because you saw it through someone else’s eyes?  This can work both positively and negatively.  Can you think of an example of both?  If so, does this make you think twice about how important it is to guard what opinions you listen to?
  • Do you think your ideas about beauty might be different if you had been raised in a different culture?  How?
  • When you look at yourself, do you see yourself through the world’s concept of beauty, through God’s concept of beauty, or perhaps through someone else’s concept of beauty (a parent, or boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.)?  How about when you look at others…what lenses do you see them through?
  • If you could really see yourself as God sees you, if you could really believe that HE thought you were perfectly made, how would that change how you felt about yourself?
  • If you could see other people the way that God sees them, how would that change your thinking about them?
  • Do you know what the Bible has to say about beauty?

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (I Peter 3:3-4)

[1] P. 125

[2] Genesis 1:31

[3] Psalm 139:13-14

[4] John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”