I’m always amazed at the documentaries you can find on streaming services. A few years ago, I watched a movie about Max Factor, the inventor of the modern cosmetic industry. Factor, who started his career selling wigs and greasepaints for the stage, took Hollywood by storm when he created a thinner paint, which did not cake or dry on the skin. By 1914, Factor developed a makeup technique for black and white iconoscope film that enhanced the critical features of an actor’s face. Factor created contours by adding green paint to lips and cheeks to give stars a natural appearance, then used black and white cosmetics to draw cheekbones and eyes. Yet, with the popularity of color movies, everything changed, and makeup artists could no longer rely on green grease paint to portray beauty on film.
Fast forward decades, and today we find well-known stars who are breaking away from the oppression of appearances and posting selfies on social media without makeup. Their naked faces received approval for showing the truth behind their cosmetics.
So, what is beauty? Is it the arrangement of color on our faces? Is it full lips, wide eyes, long lashes, or high cheekbones, or is it small beady eyes, broad noses, and thin lips? It could go either way, depending on the person you ask.
But beauty seems more profound than the use of cosmetics. To me, the world exhibits landscapes that catch our breath, stunning creatures who hold our attention, and art that baffles the imagination. But to others, my opinion is subjective. There has to be a definition or a baseline standard to measure beauty for all the world to agree.
With all things spiritual, research begins with Scripture and fans out from there. Thus, I started with the creation narrative in Genesis. Chapter 1:27 & 31 says, “So God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female, He created them. And God saw all that He had made, and behold; it was very good.”
Simple enough. God is the creator of all things. Thus, He is the author of beauty. If we’re made in His image, then God must be the measure in which we gauge someone’s appearance.
Let’s look further.
In Jonathan Edwards book, The Nature of True Virtue, he says, “For as God is infinitely the greatest Being, so he is allowed to be infinitely the most beautiful and excellent: and all the beauty to be found throughout the whole creation, is but the reflection of the diffused beams of that Being who has an infinite fullness of brightness and glory. God’s beauty is infinitely more valuable than that of all other beings.” Then to Edwards, God is not only the standard—but He is the object of beauty.
In the book, The Disappearance of God, Dr. Al Mohler says, “Augustine suggested that Christians uniquely understand that the good, the beautiful, the true, and the real, are indeed one because they are established in the reality of the self-revealing God. He alone is beautiful, he alone is good, He alone is true, and He alone is real. It is simply to say that He alone, by virtue of the fact that He is infinite in all His perfections, is the source and judge and the end of all that is good, beautiful, true, and real. Thus, it violates Scripture, and indeed the character of God, to call something ‘beautiful’ that is not good, or ‘true’ that is not beautiful, or ‘real’ that is not true.”
So, there it is. Beauty is the encapsulation of all things true, good, and authentic. Saying someone who wears makeup is pretty or is attractive for their dress is not wrong, but it is not the standard for beauty. God is.
Believers know that there is nothing more lovely than being in His presence.