I love the look of a sun-kissed glow but I don’t want to damage my skin. So even though I haven’t been to a tanning bed in several years, this spring I decided to go in for a spray tan. I told the girl who was helping me that I wanted a light, very natural looking tan. I came out looking like this:
I drove home and sneaked into my basement so Lily and Grace wouldn’t see me. Then I texted a photo of my “new look” to my mom and told her I was supposed to wait 8 hours before rinsing off. She replied, “Go take a shower. NOW.”
In spite of washing the tan down the drain less than an hour after my appointment, I was still very dark and my daughters definitely noticed. I recognized that I had a great opportunity to teach my children from my experience.
Here are the things we discussed:
1) All skin colors are beautiful, like a rainbow.
If everyone with dark skin tried to took lighter and if everyone with light skin tried to look darker, we’d all look the same and that would be boring!
2) Vanity takes way too much time.
I’d spent the previous evening away from my family just so I could get a spray-tan. Nathan and the girls had a great time together but those moments that I missed out on are ones I can’t get back.
3) Looking similar to family members is fun.
Lily, Grace and I have blonde hair. Both girls have the same eye color as Nathan. In other words, the four of us look like a family. Of course, if we had adopted children who look different than us, we’d find the fun in that. But since our children are biological, we can enjoy looking similar!
4) Not liking how we look is basically saying that God didn’t do a good enough job when He created us.
God, the giver of life, the creator of beauty… He chose our looks. And when we try to change our outward appearance, we’re basically saying that He didn’t do a good enough job so we’re taking matters into our own hands.
“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:13-14
5) There’s a balance to spending time on outward beauty.
We don’t want to look frumpy in junky clothes and un-brushed hair. And there’s nothing wrong with wearing a little make-up or painting nails a fun color. Staying active and eating healthy foods are definitely good things to do as well.
But when we spend hours each day working on our physical appearance, we’re focusing too much on what the outside looks like and too little on cultivating our unique inner beauty.
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 (NKJV)
6) Who gets to define beauty, anyways?
Who gets to decide that pale skin isn’t beautiful? Or that gray hair isn’t lovely? Who decided what hair color is “in-style” or what body shape is the best? Why can’t all of that be beautiful?
The older women in my church who are aging gracefully and letting their wrinkles and gray hair show are beautiful! My grandmother, full of love and laughter and apple pie, was beautiful!
And you? You’re God’s incredible handiwork. Treasure the uniqueness of how you look, but don’t focus too much on your outward appearance – choose instead to cultivate your inward beauty. At the end of the day, that’s what will shine through.
“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4