Monday, September 12, 2016

Insecurities About Beauty

"As he was approaching the borders of Egypt, Abram said to Sarai, “You are a very beautiful woman.”….And sure enough, when they arrived in Egypt everyone spoke of her beauty." Genesis 12: 11&14

“You look like a baboon. You belong in a garbage can.” Thus read the Opinion Sheet that the middle school boys had written about me. I was devastated and became insecure about my changing appearance at thirteen years old. Clearly it was brutally announced that I was not beautiful. When the teachers found out swift action was taken to shut down the Opinion Sheets. Today I am at peace but not when I was thirteen years old. That experience helped me to identify with and be sensitive to the insecurities which Muslim friends can experience. Not being beautiful can cause insecurity for those who hear brutal and cruel remarks. I try to get to the root of their insecurities and to speak words of comfort, truth, freedom, and life.

Ikran told me her friend, Hawa, just cries and cries. She feels rejected. Hawa’s in-laws, who come from another Islamic country, did not want their son married to a dark-skinned woman and put pressure on him to get divorced. Sadly he listened to them. Many work hard trying to achieve white skin by applying bleaching creams. One country believes blue eyes and blonde hair are the most desirable. Another culture believes in the practice of “forced feeding” of young girls to fatten them up to make the best marriage arrangement possible. For others their weight is sometimes monitored by a male figure who insists on a lean look. Plastic surgery to alter the shape or size of nose is undertaken. Well shaped eyebrows are a must for many.

Abdullah and Rahima and I were discussing a woman’s beauty when I shared how Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was famous for her beauty even when she was old. “You know, Abdullah, some women get more beautiful as they age,” I told him. For someone who never lacked words this time found him completely speechless! “Well, she was beautiful as an old woman because she was a Prophet’s wife,” he finally concluded. Being beautiful can also cause insecurity and potential problems for both husband and wife.

Talking about beauty with Muslim friends is an emotionally charged topic which can lead to spiritual opportunities to talk about true inner beauty. While there is animated talk about cosmetics, fashions, and sexuality, behind it all are fears and insecurities. “Every Muslim woman is insecure,” Amal lamented. The chance of a husband taking another wife is all too real for some of them.

“Seema, do you know why God created you?” I asked.  “Actually I asked a few mullahs exactly that question and not one of them could tell me,” she replied.  Some of her physical beauty had lost its radiant glow by lovers who dumped her.  

Some believe God created them to please man, believing they were primarily created as sexual objects.  Some believe that that purpose will continue on in paradise, too. I find it helpful to talk about why God created them. There is the gift of Living Water waiting for them which will produce a mystifying radiant glory – a new kind of unfading beauty.

Dear heavenly Father, bring Your truth and comfort to Muslim women who feel insecure.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.