Is it Okay to Be Pretty AND Smart???
With a title like that, I feel I should start off this post with a disclaimer: I am not insinuating that I think of myself as either pretty or smart — the two things that I’m discussing in this post! I’m a teenage girl with normal teenage insecurities, and I don’t have any abnormal vanities that you should know about. Just making that very clear.
But this is a question I’ve been thinking about lately. I guest-blogged on the Go Teen Writers site this morning about stereotypes, and ever since then stereotypes have been on my mind. Two in particular.
The first stereotype that really bugs me is when people see a pretty, well-dressed young woman and automatically make this assumption: Wow, look at her hot pink nails and high heels. She must be one of those self-absorbed rich girls who’s never worked a day in her life. And then they proceed to think that of her for what seems like the rest of eternity.
The other stereotype that I cannot stand is the exact opposite situation. This is when someone hears that a girl is interested in writing, reading, or any other type of intelligent pastime, and they immediately assume: Huh. She must be one of those smart girls. I bet she only showers once a week because she’s in a relationship with the written word and sleeps in her thick-rimmed glasses just in case she decides to spontaneously start reading under the blankets in the middle of the night.
I’m probably exaggerating here, but you know what I’m talking about, right? It’s like teenage girls have only two options. We can either be pretty, popular, and air-headed, or smart and reclusive. There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground.
I’ve experienced a lot of this in my own life, to tell the truth. I know some people who turn up their noses at my red wedges and floral sundresses, claiming that I’m being vain and worldly, and I know others who look at me like I have three heads when I ask what they think of Surrealism or covenant theology. Sometimes I feel like I’m being torn between two personalities that can never live in harmony. No one wants to discuss theology with a girl in a polka dot dress, and no one expects a published author to spend half an hour sampling the perfume selection at Bloomingdale’s.
But then I started thinking about it in a Biblical sense. What does God want of me? Does God think that it’s silly to want to wear lipgloss and heels, or does He think it’s ridiculous to be so caught up in appearing intelligent and mature that you forget to have fun? There are so many verses about appearances, both of the exterior and interior, but it’s still hard to make sense of it all.
In the end, this is the conclusion I finally came to: God is most concerned about my beautiful heart. When my biggest priority is making sure my heart is pure and beautiful, everything else will fall into place. It won’t matter if I spend two minutes on my hair or two hours. (I do tend to lean more towards the two minutes, though, for those of you who are interested. Curly hair rocks.) Because everyone around me couldn’t think for a moment that I’m vain or air-headed if the love of Christ is flowing from my words and actions. If someone could spend ten minutes in my presence and walk away thinking, Wow, she needs a reality check and a little less cash, or I hope she really loves books, since she’ll never get a boyfriend with that sour face, then that’s my own fault. Because I was showing off my own sin and selfishness, and not the love of Christ.
It is possible to be both pretty and smart, but only when Christ is in control of our hearts and minds. Because then the prettiness doesn’t come off as fake or vain, it’s a beautiful and effortless representation of what’s in our hearts. The smarts aren’t a result of heavy encyclopedias or too many hours watching the History Channel, but a natural outcome of the time we have spent getting to know people and understanding the world God has created around us.
So go put on your red peep toes and read a good book. It’s about time someone did.
P.S. This post may or may not have just been an excuse to photograph my cute new pair of bow heels and a pile of my favorite books. Just sayin’.