Esther: Beauty for a Purpose

by | Jan 9, 2017 | Beauty, Body Image, Body Image Idolatry

As far as Bible stories go, Esther has always been one of my favorites. A young girl is plucked from the masses as the next queen. She gets a year of spa treatments and then a chance to win a king’s affection. How glamorous and exciting! And, how totally random that the God of the universe chooses a beauty contest to save his people!

It seems surreal.

Beauty contests are far less popular today than they were when I grew up. My family watched the Miss America pageant every September. I carefully analyzed all the women who flashed across our rounded television set. I critiqued them on their talents and evening gown choices. Violinists playing the “Orange Blossom Special” impressed me more than the opera singers. If I liked the style or color of their dress, I assigned them more of my points. The swimsuit competition annoyed me, even back then. But, in the 1980s contestants all wore one-piece suits that weren’t nearly as risqué as some of the suits I’ve seen in recent pageants.

I’d cheer for my favorite–hoping she’d be the one to win the crown. I’d tear-up watching her take that stroll down the catwalk, waving wrist-wrist, elbow-elbow with one arm, while holding her long stem roses in the other. Her new sash read “Miss America” and her bejeweled crown, somehow, never messed up her hair.

Ahhh. . . I always envied pageant girls. I knew if there was one group of women who didn’t struggle with their body image, it had to be the woman who was chosen as the most beautiful in the land. (My beauty idolatry started early.) Crown Esther Beauty and Purpose

This is why Esther’s story always fascinated me. While the Sunday school ladies tried to convince me that true beauty was on the inside, I knew that being physically beautiful was an important part of Esther’s life purpose. If Esther had looked more like Leah (from Genesis), would she have been able to save the Jewish people?

I wonder why God would put a story in the Bible where a woman had to make herself as beautiful as possible in order to accomplish his purpose. Doesn’t that seem counter-intuitive to everything we’ve been taught about what God values?

When Beauty and Purpose Collide

I never had a shot at being a pageant girl. My lousy posture prohibited me from ever balancing a book on my head. I wasn’t tall enough, shaped right or talented in the acceptable ways to ever even try the pageant circuit. But Esther. She must have had it all together in the looks arena. I imagine her as one of those natural beauties who rolled out of bed looking gorgeous. Extra spa-treatments and make-up just accentuated what God had already gifted her with in the looks department.

My first instinct is to cry, “That’s not fair!” Why did God make some women look like Victoria’s Secret models while others of us trudge on, trying every product out there but never making the cut?

I think it has to do with purpose.

God gave Esther everything she needed, physically, to accomplish his purpose for her life. He needed her physically equipped to win the heart of the King. She needed a type of beauty that would captivate him. God had a mighty purpose for her life, and to fulfill that purpose, Esther needed to look a certain way.

But, what’s interesting is, this same truth applies for Leah. You may remember she was the “less than hot” sister of Rachel. Her dad tricked Rachel’s beau, Jacob, into marrying her. She fought for her husband’s attention and affection by bearing him children. One of these children just happened to be a boy named Judah. From his line, later, comes our Savior.

Did God have a lesser purpose for Leah’s life than for Esther’s? Hardly. Both had important roles to fill in the history of the world. But, God physically made Esther look one way and Leah look another.

Why would he do that? Doesn’t he know that he should have made “all women beautiful?” (You know– like those nice women on stage at Christian pep rallies try to convince us He did . . .)

How do we reconcile his choices in the arena of our physical appearance?

Trusting He Designed Your Looks On Purpose

I think one of the most freeing lessons we can derive from Esther is that God created each of us with a purpose. And, in this, he created the way each of us looks, physically, with a purpose as well.

He did not create me to look like a model. I can rest knowing that modeling is not a part of his purpose for my life. He can work through me to accomplish his will without me ever having to get plastic surgery and liposuction so that I can look more like Kim Kardashian.

Yet, he has physically gifted me with all the looks I need to do what he needs me to do. And, the same applies to you. He designed you from the toes up to fulfill a purpose.

A few years ago I saw a man named Nick Vujicic speak. He was born without arms and legs, and yet, he speaks to hundreds of thousands of people every year, all across the globe. In his talk he said, “How can a man without arms and legs be the hands and feet of Jesus?” And, yet. His physical disability has not hindered his ministry. More doors opened for him to speak to dignitaries and massive audiences because of the way he looks, not despite it.

I am not hindered in my ministry because I have thick thighs. These extra twenty pounds that won’t leave, no matter what, they aren’t stopping me either. Sure, God wants me to be a good steward of the body he gave me, but I’m not bound to the pursuit of looking like a cover model. He can accomplish his will for my life without me ever winning a beauty pageant.

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6 Comments

  1. Myka

    Hi upon reading this I have mixed feelings. As a woman it’s one thing for me to have wanted God to make us all women equally beautiful in the same measures despite our uniqueness and differences that comes along with it. I would have wanted us all to be equal and no one being better than the other just all made in the image of God and in his design all crafted intricately and beautiful. It makes sense, concerning the purpose he has for everyone’s life. But then again it’s a hard truth and can be at times disheartening. Some people are born beautiful in this world and handsome and others are not so and get overlooked, rejected, mistreated, and used. I know God gives out purposes for each person but I won’t lie though Leah had a purpose in why God designed her in that way I would really want and favor Esther’s purpose instead. It seems unfortunate to me that God thought it through that for one person her purpose may require her to be very beautiful and blessed in that aspect and the other to fulfill such calling she has to be not so attractive. It’s like my heart and mind is telling me well God whatever that purpose is Leah has I dont want that purpose if that’s the case I’d like Esther’s purpose. In life I am a Leah. I felt that people get lucky to have God thought through that he will give a person this particular purpose and some of us it feels like it’s one of those elementary sticks getting pulled out of the draw and your stick gets pulled out and unfortunate as it is you get handed that purpose while another is lucky for whatever purpose God decides for them. I think I’m coming from a place of great pain. I am Filipino, an Asian person who isn’t really all that attractive. I liked a guy who I thought was genuine and was a friend of mine. I cared about him and really thought well of his intentions. Turns out all this time I was only a side. He never really liked me or found me attractive. I was simply used. The entire time though he liked another girl a coworker of ours who is also just like him Mexican too. She was beautiful and had a great figure. She really did standout and she was also interesting and a nice person. I on the other hand was never liked and I had gotten pregnant in which I never went for an abortion though he convinced me to. All this time his heart was for her, she was beautiful, and had many friends who cared and loved her. So in saying all this I felt like God was unfair. I felt like telling God, God why?! So you think for my purpose it would be good for me to be unattractive and be born Asian be a Filipino and ugly and for my purpose it just requires me to be like that. Why am I unfortunate that of all purposes this is what you’d think of for me?! And then my heart of pain would tell me and God what is it with her ? You thought well and she was lucky that you decided for her purpose I would like her to be physically attractive in looks and in figure and she has to be born non Asian to fulfill that purpose. And it’s hard to think I should have known better of course she definitely is beautiful inside and out so he wanted her and want nothing with me. Aside from this situation I’ve been on, I mean it definitely has been lifelong and dates way back in elementary when I would get picked and told I’m Asian, I’m ugly, I have an accent, etc. It’s like God why?! It feels like the other side of the spectrum people get chosen and blessed to be handpicked by God for such a purpose and the few of us has to be decided okay her purpose requires her to be average looking, and she will have to go through alot of persecution and people overlooking her. In my heart and mind I would tell God, God no way what makes you decide such a purpose over me if that’s the case I don’t want that purpose at all, I really don’t and if that’s to be the purpose fated for me I rather not have come into existence! Why do people get handed great purposes and the others the unthinkable like Leah for example. I’m sure all women would have wanted Esther’s purpose, everyone would have wanted to be assigned such a role and also to add to that be blessed to be beautiful and feel feminine. For me it’s not so much who ever hurts me in my life, another guy can very well hurt me again,and people can hurt us because their not perfect but I would have wanted to be somewhat pretty so I can simply feel great about myself and comfortable in my own skin despite whoever hurts me. A person can have so many enemies for no reason but for me I just don’t want to be my own enemy. Its a very harsh truth and it is very hard. I dont think anyone would have volunteered to be a Leah if given the option for them to choose how their fate will be. No body has control over their lot in life some are lucky some are not. I went through years and even now of living as a Christian but still struggling not hating my self being an Asian person a Filipino when I would’ve wanted to be born out of any different race apart from what I am. Its my identity and it’ll always be and forever will be a sealed fate for me. I’m sure in heaven I won’t turn Caucasian, or European, or Hispanic, I’d still hold on to what is determined for me :)! Its a constant struggle of mine to not feel down about the way I look and keep pressing on to working on my inner beauty and constantly casting down negative thoughts when I go through rejection and being overlooked all the time by people. Its hard to see the love of God when all around you see his own children just like you however he decides she should be very beautiful, he should be handsome and that feeling of when it came to you and it was your turn it’s like God where is the love here? You passed me feeling.. I had felt unlucky that I just got a bad draw at the purpose God gave me and it does feel frustrating at times. Yet to some like that girl my babydaddy likes life is different then how I live mine. I go through alot of rejection whereas this person God purposely designed to be that way is beautiful, born to be non Asian, charming, and well liked, she was a girl that had no problems with any one ever liking her because they just happen to keep coming, she was nice and really lived out there expressing love to others as well, seen, and wanted like Rachel. And not just with her but I can say the samefor so many other of God’s children. It’s kind of really hard to accept and swallow this hard truth. It really is. I dont think I’ve found peace with God with this yet but more so I haven’t found peace within my self.

    Reply
    • Myka

      Please provide me with greater truth and encouragement or so concerning this. My email is mykaevec@gmail.com. Blessings and love ❤

      Reply
    • Heather Creekmore

      Myka – I’m so sorry for how you have struggled. The biggest challenge here is believing God’s definition of beauty versus the world’s definition. God knew Esther needed the world’s beauty to save the Jewish people. But, beauty – just like a singing voice, or a great mind, or any other talent – is a gift from him. I do understand what you’re saying – it’s SUPER hard to believe that inner beauty is more important than outer beauty in our world. But, I would challenge you to also think about women-even women in the Bible for whom great beauty created more struggle. Bathsheba for example – her beauty got her the attention of King David who took her, got her pregnant, killed her husband, and then she lost that baby. Or Sarah – Abraham’s wife – who -because of her beauty- ended up in a king’s harem 2x because Abraham didn’t want to get killed so that these kings could have her (so he said, “she’s my sister”). It’s always easier to look at someone else’s life – see something they have – and believe the lie that they have it easier than I do. Or, that I would be happier or content or peaceful if I just had what they have. But, the truth is -this is idolatry. Some of us struggle with it in the realm of beauty. Others struggle in the realm of money (if I just had money like they have – then I’d be happy). But, it’s all idolatry. Nothing but Jesus will truly satisfy us. We can be content in all things only because and through him. Not when we look like we’d love to look or when we have what we’d love to have. These are all things that the Bible classifies as lust of the flesh, envy, jealousy, and even covetousness. It’s our pride that says “I should have it better, it’s not fair this life you’ve picked out for me God.” Now, please here NO condemnation in that at all. We ALL think it and are all tempted to believe it. Remember, Satan the great deceiver used that line on Eve -that her life would be better if she ate the fruit. It’s been effective for thousands of years. But, it’s still a lie. God’s truth is the only truth. Jesus was not a physically good looking man while here on the earth -but we know he was magnetic and attractive. You probably know girls who are beautiful on the outside and so ugly on the inside you don’t want to be friends with them. More than we care to admit, we all do factor in inner beauty along with outer beauty, quite naturally. I’d also encourage you friend that peace within yourself will only come from peace with God. There’s no such thing as inner peace without him. Impossible. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. As long as you try to make sense of all this in your human mind, you can’t. You won’t. We don’t have the capacity for it. We can only trust in God’s truth and find peace resting in him. I hope this helps. Hugs and prayers. Listen to my podcast – especially the episode about Leah – I think it will help you too!

      Reply
  2. Myka

    Hi upon reading this I have mixed feelings. As a woman it’s one thing for me to have wanted God to make us all women equally beautiful in the same measures despite our uniqueness and differences that comes along with it. I would have wanted us all to be equal and no one being better than the other just all made in the image of God and in his design all crafted intricately and beautiful. It makes sense, concerning the purpose he has for everyone’s life. But then again it’s a hard truth and can be at times disheartening. Some people are born beautiful in this world and handsome and others are not so and get overlooked, rejected, mistreated, and used. I know God gives out purposes for each person but I won’t lie though Leah had a purpose in why God designed her in that way I would really want and favor Esther’s purpose instead. It seems unfortunate to me that God rhoughtvit through that for one person her purpose may require her to be very beautiful and blessed in that aspect and the other to fulfill such calling she has to be not so attractive. It’s like my heart and mind is telling me well God whatever that purpose is Leah has I dont want that purpose if that’s the case I’d like Esther’s purpose. In life I am a Leah. I felt that people get lucky to have God thought through that he will give a person this particular purpose and some of us it feels like it’s one of those elementary sticks getting pulled out of the draw and your stick gets pulled out and unfortunate as it is you get handed that purpose while another is lucky for whatever purpose God decides for them. I think I’m coming from a place of great pain. I am Filipino, an Asian person who isn’t really all that attractive. I liked a guy who I thought was genuine and was a friend of mine. I cared about him and really thought well of his intentions. Turns out all this time I was only a side. He never really liked me or found me attractive. I was simply used. The entire time though he liked another girl a coworker of ours who is also just like him Mexican too. She was beautiful and had a great figure. She really did standout and she was also interesting and a nice person. I on the other hand was never liked and I had gotten pregnant in which I never went for an abortion though he convinced me to. All this time his heart was for her, she was beautiful, and had many friends who cared and loved her. So in saying all this I felt like God was unfair. I felt like telling God, God why?! So you think for my purpose it would be good for me to be unattractive and be born Asian be a Filipino and ugly and for my purpose it just requires me to be like that. Why am I unfortunate that of all purposes this is what you’d think of for me?! And then my heart of pain would tell me and God what is it with her ? You thought well and she was lucky that you decided for her purpose I would like her to be physically attractive in looks and in figure and she has to be born Mexican to fulfill that purpose. It’s like God why?! It feels like the other side of the spectrum people get chosen and blessed to be handpicked by God for such a purpose and the few of us has to be decided okay her purpose requires her to be average looking, and she will have to go through alot of persecution and people overlooking her. In my heart and mind I would tell God, God no way what makes you decide such a purpose over me if that’s the case I don’t want that purpose at all! Why do people get handed great purposes and the others the unthinkable Leah for example. I’m sure all women would have wanted Esther’s purpose and a few if any would pick Leah’s. Its a very harsh truth and it is very hard. No body has control over their lot in life some are lucky some are not. I went through years and even now of living as a Christian but still struggling not hating my self being an Asian person a Filipino when I would’ve wanted to be born out of any different race apart from this. Its a constant struggle of mine to not feel down about the way I look and keep pressing on to working on my inner beauty and constantly casting down negative thoughts when I go through rejection and being overlooked all the time. I had felt unlucky that I just got a bad draw at the purpose God gave me and it does feel frustrating at times. Yet to some like that girl my babydaddy likes life is different then how I live mine. I go through alot of rejection whereas this person God purposely designed to be that way is beautiful, born to be Mexican, charming, and well liked, seen, and wanted like Rachel. And not just with her but so many other of God’s children. It’s kind of really hard to accept and swallow this hard truth. It really is.

    Reply
  3. Melissa Valerga

    I absolutely love this blog post. It’s refreshing to hear that God did not create all physical beauty alike. BUT all of us are riddled with beautiful purpose. And how we look was an intentional part of that purpose and not a hindrance to it. Thank you for the refreshing and biblical perspective on the subject.

    Reply

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