Today is the 10th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana. Most of us today remember where we were when we heard the news that she had been killed in a tragic car accident, much like knowing, in my generation, where you were when John F. Kennedy died.
Today, editorial writer, Cal Thomas, has what I think is an insightful article about her death and the mystic of her life that continues to this day. He describes her followers as those who continue to worship the cult of beauty. At one point, Thomas says, “The feminist writer Germaine Greer penned a devastatingly honest essay for The Sunday Times that pierced the makeup, the clothes, the jewels and the image to reach her reality: “When Diana presented herself to her adoring public as a guileless girl who fell in love with a chap who just happened to be heir to the English throne, only to have her innocent young love spurned, she was acting a lie.”Greer says that in adulthood Diana became “more, rather than less, devious.” It is a character assessment her adoring disciples are prepared to overlook. And then Greer writes this explosive line: “The story of how she emerged from her dowdy chrysalis to become the people’s princess is often told, but what is seldom assessed is just how much of a performance this was.”
It is interesting and timely that he wrote about this because I have been thinking about the concept of physical attractiveness, about young women and their quest for beauty, of older women who lament its passing, and have been wondering what a Christian’s response ought to be to these ideas in the 21st century.
Consider, also, these quotes:
Proverbs 31: “Beauty is vain but a woman that fears the Lord shall be praised.”
In her book, The Beauty Myth, feminist writer Naomi Wolf contends that the women’s movement caused magazines and advertisers to be confronted with their “own obsolescence” and thus “the beauty myth, in its modern form, arose to take the place of the Feminine Mystique, to save magazines and advertisers from the economic fallout of the women’s revolution.”
Counselor and writer Dr. Mary Pipher says in her book, Reviving Ophelia, “Anorexia is a problem of Western civilization, a problem for the prosperous….(it) is both the result of and a protest against the cultural rule that young women must be beautiful. In the beginning a young woman strives to be thin and beautiful, but after a time, anorexia takes on a life of its own…Of all psychiatric illnesses, it has the highest fatality rate…Its victims are often the brightest and best young women. In my experience, it is the good girls, the dutiful daughters and high achievers who are at the greatest risk for anorexia…they epitomize our cultural definitions of feminine: thin, passive, weak, and eager to please….it is a young woman’s statement that she will become what the culture asks of its women, which is that they be thin and nonthreatening. Anorexia signifies that a young woman is so delicate that, like the women of China with their tiny broken feet, she needs a man to shelter and protect her from world she cannot handle.”
How much emphasis, do you think, evangelicals place on physical beauty? Have you sorted this out for your own life application and, if so, please share thoughts and insights or personal experience. How can the church, today, address this issue in a wise, biblical manner? Any thoughts?