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Schoenstatt
Apostolic Movement

How to discover the ideal model of feminine beauty?

By: Salete Aparecida Schiavo and Roberta Queli de Santi - Schoenstatt Women's Apostolic Federation.

A recent study conducted by the International Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) shows the worldwide growth of these procedures where Brazil ranks second in the ranking of plastic surgeries globally [1]. The passage of time, particularly for women, can hinder a healthy and positive relationship with their self-image largely due to the aesthetic standard set by the media.

What are our thoughts as Catholic women regarding our bodies and our appearance over the years? How do we maintain our femininity, being strong and authentic in our daily lives while facing the expectations for an ideal feminine appearance?

In one of his talks, Schoenstatt’s founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, said that if we have a noble and divinized awareness of our body looking at it from within – not only from the outside – we can assume that we are protected from all the dangers of the present age. He also affirms that we must treat our body with respectful love because it was created and chosen by God as a temple of the Holy Spirit, as a shrine, but we must also treat it with reasonable austerity because it is subject to the law of original sin and to impulses. “The virtue of modesty treats the body with respectful love, but at the same time with wisdom and discipline.” [2]

What does the Church say about self-care and exaggeration?

According to the doctor in moral theology, Father Mário Marcelo Coelho, the main problem does not lie in the plastic surgeries themselves, but in the intention behind them. When a woman says, “I’m going to get silicone implants” or “I’m going to have plastic surgery”, one should analyze what her main motivation is: a matter of health, self-esteem, or the vanity of being more attractive to meet the imposed standard of beauty?

“When she becomes a slave to this socially conceived situation, she ends up denying herself as a person and forgets to look at herself as someone with intrinsic values. She loses the sacred meaning of life, because she stops seeing herself as the image and likeness of God and starts seeing herself as the image and likeness of what society imposes on her, thus wounding her dignity” explained Father Mário to the news portal Comunidade Canção Nova. [3]

Excessive self-care and mechanistic thinking

The mechanistic thinking that separates man from God’s action determines a global standard of beauty according to which all women must, for example, be slim, with perfect curves, without wrinkles… ignoring the uniqueness of each individual. Thus, there are women who do not consider the consequences of achieving this level and even risk their own life.

On the other hand, organic thinking acknowledges the value of divine grace. It values if I take care of myself, if I perform actions that are positive for my life, if I appreciate my natural beauty. The key question is what can I do to be more beautiful before God’s eyes?

For Mother Teresa of Calcutta, for example, the answer to this question lies in a person’s smile, which was “the best make-up” for her.

Gertraud von Bullion, the first woman who sealed the Covenant of Love in Schoenstatt also reminds us about the way we dress: “As Christian women, we want to be instruments of our Mother and Queen for the renewal of the world and our clothes should be an external adornment of God’s temple which is our body. May our outward appearance be an expression of our deepest convictions”.[4] For her, a proper way of dressing is a manifestation of the conviction that God dwells in us.

The care of one’s own image is important and has to do with what Father Joseph Kentenich always repeated: “The order of being determines the order of acting”. Thus, the striving for external, natural and healthy organic beauty can reflect inner beauty.

What is our standard of beauty?

Yes, we have a standard of beauty. As Schoenstatt women our great desire should always be to be a reflection of Mary to the world. In order to achieve this we need to pay attention to the inspirations of grace so that we can, in spite of the difficulties of the present time, present the small Mary to the world in countless ways. We all have the task of ensuring that we, as women of today, can always sculpt the small Mary anew.

As time goes by, think about who you really are and be happy with your age. Our wrinkles reveal our life story. How many nights of sleep deprivation to care for others? Whether to care for our children or our parents, or even to worry about our multiple jobs. They tell of our sorrows, our joys, our anguish, our longings. We should think about the love they transmit.

Perhaps we no longer have the glow of our skin and the perfection of our youthful body, but beyond nostalgia, we must love ourselves and accept the trajectory of life that our face and body show nowadays.

Father Kentenich told a group of young people that spiritual beauty is reflected in the physical body: “Therefore, when is a face beautiful? Suppose it has a wound or a blemish, can it be beautiful in spite of that? Suppose it is 70 years old and has a face full of wrinkles. How could it [the face] still be beautiful in spite of that? If harmony reigns in the soul, the face also reflects that harmony, the face and the eyes radiate a certain nobility.” [5]

The poet Olavo Bilac said that grace is the real beauty. Grace is capable of transforming imperfections into perfections. According to him, grace is everything, grace is simple things like a glance, grace generates love, and it is love that indicates what beauty is, in other words, love creates beauty, but grace is greater than beauty because everything else emanates from grace.

 

References
[1] Publication isaps.org
[2] Fr. Joseph Kentenich. The richness of being pure. Protecting Walls. 3rd edition, 2001 – Portuguese
[3] news.cancaonova.com
[4] Gertraud Von Bullion. Winning Brothers for Christ.
[5] Fr. Joseph Kentenich. Greeting to the Lilies. Conference in Santa Maria/RS, 08.12.1949

Foto: Pixabay

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