Self-image: The Bagel Forehead

I don’t know if you’ve heard about this recent beauty trend: the bagel forehead. That’s right. I said the bagel forehead. Apparently, according to “National Geographic Taboo,” people in Japan are getting injected with 400 cc of saline in their foreheads to create a bagel-like shape. It looks a little alien to me, but really, what have we done to ourselves, all on the name of beauty, appearance and trends? How much of that has been freakish?

For instance, let’s take a hobbled stroll down foot binding lane, shall we? In 19th century China, young girls believed the beauty standard to be the tiny feet, inspired by the female dancers of that era. It then, like most beauty standards, became a sign of social class structure. In the name of being a “lady,” a young girl’s feet were wrapped, early on, to reshape the appearance. The goal was to even have toes fall off, all to acquire this specific look. The tiny narrow feet of the “ladies” were considered beautiful and a goal was to make a woman’s movements more feminine and dainty. Hence, the hobbling. And that, of course, made it attractive to the men, taking on oppressive, sexist tones. The men could better control their wives if they could not literally run away, right?

Ah, yes, beauty is pain, huh?

And how about the corset? Yes, back in the 19th century, like the tiny feet of foot binding, the tiny waist, created by the corset, was also in demand; “Tight Lacers,” therefore, were born. Here’s a little ditty from that time period to underscore its importance:

“In my hourglass corset I’m laced every day. My little wasp waist is shrinking away. The stays squeeze me inwards so small and so nice, in a pattern of lacing that grips like a vice.”

Ever see that scene from “Gone with the Wind” when Scarlett O’Hara is gripping her bedpost, all while she’s getting pushed and pulled into her corset? (A more modern day equivalent: lying on the bed with a coat hanger, trying to zip up our skin tight jeans).

Anyway, because of the corset, the waist was pushed to its limits. How tiny could we go? Never mind that women we passing out and were unable to breathe. Never mind that serious harm was being done to internal organs. Nah! Forget that! Look at that tiny waist, the epitome of well-bred beauty, class and femininity. Yikes! Not exactly empowering, is it?

They say, “beauty is as beauty does.” So, manipulate our bodies and faces? That’s the ticket? Again, yikes!

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 1 Peter 3:3

Image is king? We see the proliferation of not only eating disorders today, but also plastic surgery, tattooing and all manner of “body modification.” This is all, with the promise, of course, that once we achieve this look, our lives will fall into place. (I still don’t know how the bagel forehead will do that, especially if the effect only lasts about 16 hours). But I digress.

Indeed, we will try anything and everything, except… except, perhaps, God? Yes, God tells us not to worry and fuss so much about our appearance:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:25-33

God’s not opposed to us feeling good about ourselves. But there’s a difference between the self-acceptance approach and the manipulation, pushing, pulling and harming ourselves approach. God never wants us to self-injure just to attain a certain image.

God already believes we’re beautiful, as is!

O my dove…let me see your form…for your form is lovely.
Song of Solomon 2:14

Simply put: we don’t need to do these extreme things to enhance or improve our value; we already have it!!! We’re already beautiful and wonderful!

…I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139:14

Do we embrace it or not? No bagel forehead or any other image trend will accomplish that for us. Accept no substitutes; let’s accept our God-created selves!