Mrs. Foster: [while strapping Winnie into a corset] You must suffer to be beautiful, so say the French.
Winnie: The French are crazy.
We can laugh at the attempts of women in past centuries to beautify themselves, going to great lengths for that smaller waist or whiter complexion or rosier cheeks. They did highly dangerous things, drinking poisonous concoctions, deforming ribs, stifling themselves in summer. But the coupling (and perceived necessity) of beauty and suffering did not die out in the Victorian Era. In fact, I think it has only gotten worse. Mother Dear sent me the links to two recent MSNBC articles on "killer fashion." It is truly amazing to read of some of the lengths women will go to to achieve a desired image:
“The clothes might be torturing you, but you become used to it,” she says. “The heels, the tight skirt, it all becomes a part of your life. They put you in pain, but you think, ‘No, it’s worth it.’”
"I have a pair of stilettos I call my disco ball shoes — across the toe is a strip of tiny mirrored squares. I love these shoes, but the last time I wore them I lost the feeling in my toes for about two weeks."
"I have many tortures: curling iron burns on my forehead and neck, skin torn off my feet where shoes rubbed, chafing and rash from sequins rubbing my underarms while I played percussion and sang in bands. But ... I can still do high kicks and deep knee bends in 6-inch platforms. Rock on!"
"Thirty years in "highest" heels have destroyed the cartilage in my toes and my knees, leaving me with arthritis and flat shoes. Sometimes, I can still get into a 1-inch heel that has good support. Pain finally won out over fashion."
To read the full stories, see here and here.
It's easy to get caught up, as a young woman, in the obsession with beauty in our society. It's so easy to forget that the most important kind (and the lasting kind) of beauty comes from within, and can only be wrought by God's working in our lives. That kind of beauty also comes through pain, but it is a joyful pain, a pain of refining, as our old self is heated and cleared of impurities to reveal Christ's image. Hmmm, perhaps, after all, the French were right: we really do have to suffer to be beautiful.