The impossible standards of Christian beauty expectations


From SHE Teen, pg. 87

For months now, I’ve been trying to find the words to write about Christian culture’s beauty standards. It’s hard to put into words, though, because much of it isn’t very explicit. What Christianity says is that women/girls (and those people it categorizes as such) shouldn’t care about their looks. Caring about looks is part of the sinful, superficial world, and a woman should only care about inner beauty: things like modesty, purity, gentleness, kindness, and most especially, innocence.


From SHE Teen pg. 87

But what Christianity really means is far different. For instance, I just recently checked out a Christian magazine-type book called SHE Teen (Safe, Healthy, and Empowered) put together by Rebecca St. James. “Your remote control could tell you that we’re pretty much addicted to beauty” it says as it gives beauty tips that let you know that you better not think for a minute you can get away with not caring about your appearance. The message seems to be: you shouldn’t care about your physical appearance by worldly standards, but you definitely have an obligation to think and care about it by spiritual standards.


From SHE Teen pg. 87

And it’s not just this — most Christian literature aimed at women links beauty with femininity and femininity next to godliness. This was the message I received from books like Captivating and from messages about what a woman was “supposed” to be.

While dismissing “worldly” standards of beauty, Christian culture actually holds women up to an even higher standard of appearance: your physical beauty is both entirely dependent on who you are as a person and how you conform to feminine standards of behavior and you should meet Christian standards of beauty appearance while pretending that you’re not focusing at all on your beauty.

And because beauty standards are linked to spiritual, Christian culture can move far beyond even the virgin/whore dichotomy and into realms where the fate of your soul is determined by the beauty image you cultivate.

The problem with these beauty standards is that, while things like femininity, purity, modesty, and innocence are what’s explicitly talked about, there is a very specific body type that Christian culture judges as acceptable manifestations of these traits. Chest size is probably the most obvious: the bigger the breasts, the more Christian culture judges you to be immodest, regardless of how you dress. Unless you wear a loose-fitting sack, but then you’ll probably be judged as not embracing your God-given femininity.


From SHE Teen, pg. 87

But it goes beyond that, too. You need to be thin. You need to have just enough curves as to not look like a boy (need to look feminine!) but not enough that you fail modesty standards by having a body boys might look at. You better be appealing to men, but not turn them on. You need to be innocent of all knowledge of sex and bodies. In short, you need to be, in both look and personality, a character from an Old West Christian novel.


It was this restrictive and impossible beauty standard that I navigated growing up in Christianity. See, I wasn’t raised by a mother who taught me how to put on makeup just so. The only time I can recall her (or me, for that matter) being especially feminine was when my parents were still together, and I’m sure it was solely to impress my father.

But I was still expected to be this kind of woman. Because it was considered the ‘natural’ God-given way of being, my mother simply assumed that I would grow into this kind of person on my own. Out of my own natural femininity, I would become someone who shaved my legs, would know how to apply the proper amount of modest makeup, because it was hardwired into my genes.

This wasn’t the worst aspect for me, though, because I assumed my failures in this regard stemmed from my failure of what I saw was a bigger aspect of proper feminine beauty: innocence.

You can’t really be a survivor of sexual abuse and be innocent. This is made blatantly clear in the amount of Christian literature I’ve read that tells women that pain and trauma stand directly in the way of their femininity. That’s the true crime of abuse and trauma – that the aftereffects mean you won’t be this adult-child, sweet, innocent, trusting soul with wide doe eyes and kind words for those that hunt you.

The problem was, growing up in conservative Christianity, my lack of innocence was fractured. I knew about sex, but had no words to explain it. I knew about my body, but only in a forced way, which left strange gaps in my understanding. But I didn’t know what about me was normal, and what was something wrong with me.

See, part of these beauty standards put women, and those they deem women,  on a pedestal that’s the antithesis of humanity. Men are human, but a proper, pure, beautiful, Godly woman knows nothing of the sort.


From SHE Teen, pg. 87
At this point you can surmise that the point of this is, “Does your makeup express some unique aspect of you? Well, stop it.”

So the kind of jokes about women that most people understand are jokes – things like “women don’t sweat” or “women don’t poop” – are, to a certain extent, considered the mark of a true, Godly woman in Christianity. Because bodies and bodily functions and, well, being human are all shrouded in mystery for the proper Christian girl, I knew only what my body did and no others. I lived my life in a secret shame of being made of this fleshy stuff that I assumed others with similar bodily components managed to overcome.

Christian women smelled of body wash and lotion, their legs gleamed hairless, they walked like they had nothing between their legs. No Christians talked to me about things like periods or arousal or what was a normal-looking body. Sex never even occurred to Godly women, of course. Their bodies remained hidden from them.

My body was messy and complicated. I obsessed about sex, was aroused often (without even knowing what that was). My mother’s hands-off approach to equipping me to deal with anything meant that I had zero knowledge on how to take care of my body, let alone how to meet the impossible beauty standards of masking my humanity from others. I’d found my brother’s porn when I was 12, so I knew at least somewhat what bodies looked like, but I had internalized the idea that Christian bodies weren’t like that. Holy femininity meant you could shut off the “baser” elements of having genitalia. Maybe Christian women didn’t even have genitals. That seems rather ridiculous, I know, but the ways that ignorance is enforced as proper femininity, coupled with the silence surrounding real discussions of the human body, how was I supposed to know anything else but that my body didn’t measure up?

And even now, talking about this is difficult. I’m still ignorant. There are still aspects of my body that I don’t talk about because I see them as aberrations, as signs there is something gross and wrong with me.

But the more I think about it, the more I doubt I’m alone. Christian beauty standards for women foster contempt for your own body, because you can’t meet it. Christianity condemns Barbie doll and praises baby doll: the only difference one impossible ideal and the other is that in Christianity, you’re not even allowed to have a plastic sexuality.

Christian culture may say that the main goal is about inner beauty, but their ideas of what inner beauty does means you are judged for your outer beauty, too. Is a Christian woman considered Godly if she’s ugly? Not really. Physical beauty is important, and not only is it important, but it will tell you everything about whether you measure up spiritually or not. “The world” may judge you for your clothing and makeup choices, but Christianity can determine if you’re going to hell for them.

And Christian beauty standards are isolating. Because they are about creating an image that no one is supposed to know is an image. Be beautiful, but pretend you are trying to not be beautiful. Act in these specific ways, but pretend all these ways come naturally and are not practiced. You’re never allowed to set the mask aside, not even among friends. If your body doesn’t conform to these innocent, infantile standards, if you’re not purer than human, if you have thoughts that aren’t sweet and toothless, then for all you know, you are alone.

For all I knew, I was alone. I was a failure, I was something gross, something you should stay away and not touch. I was a fucked and fucked up survivor who thought about rape, I was a person who thought about sex. My body is one of smells and fluids, a body with lots of hair, a body capable of sex and sexual feelings. My mind churned through emotions and thoughts, and I felt like a failure that I couldn’t perfect the kind of speech and false-sweet attitude of Christian femininity. And I never did learn how to speak with that “Christian woman” voice – you know, the one that’s like 6 inches of store-made cake frosting.

This is one more thing in the mixed up pile of self-hate and body terror and loathing. Being a survivor, being a genderqueer person with a strange relationship with my body, and now still having all these Christian beauty standards linked in my mind to ideas of self-worth and morality. To care (or to not care) about your beauty, or your personality outside of Christian culture’s standards of femininity is to be ugly, sinful, and immoral.

This is an insidious kind of dehumanization because it functions by praising the more-than-human. It turns dehumanization into a compliment. And by its isolating nature, it creates a group of people who are required to spend every second of their life focusing on achieving a specific constructed front, because in your mind, all the women you know are really like that. Ugliness is not an option, because if you really had inner beauty, God probably would have given you some outer beauty to express it. To be human, to be a person, is a failure.  To be a woman in Christianity is to be one specific type of person. Everyone creates a fake femininity and destroys all else about themselves. Everyone speaks in false tones, and preapproved phrases and the first person who holds up the “HELP” loses. No, it’s not the “worldly” standards of beauty. It’s far, far worse.

37 comments on “The impossible standards of Christian beauty expectations

  1. KatR says:

    That book might be one of the most fucked up things I’ve ever seen. Rebecca St. James truly is a nutjob.

  2. Lady Copper says:

    “In short, you need to be, in both look and personality, a character from an Old West Christian novel.”

    OMG, laughing ’till I cry here! But yeah, amen to everything in this post. Christian beauty standards really are much worse than worldly ones.

  3. whitechocolatelatte says:

    Thank you for articulating these beautiful and piercing thoughts. I remember feeling similar conflicts growing up in a conservative Christian community–you can never win (especially if you have breasts).

  4. Scout Finch says:

    You hit the nail on the head. When I was younger, someone once compared women in my church culture to Stepford Wives. I thought this was grossly unjust. Now I see how impossibly unnatural the ideal we struggled towards was. Maybe the rulemakers really did want animatronic maniquinns.

  5. stargazer says:

    I had a fabulous experience with Christian churches growing up. Specifically, the youth groups. Some of my best memories surround youth groups and camp. Now, that I’m grown I have chosen to let go of some of those old school teachings and yet also keeping some dear to my heart. I’ve adopted my own beliefs of God, Heaven, Hell, reincarnation, masturbation (lol) spirituality and yet, I am thankful for my time in the church. Life is relative, some churches (and books) are a gift, others not so much and some downright appalling… Just like people.

    • Dani says:

      Out of curiosity…what was your point in posting this? It feels sort of like a roundabout “I still hold those memories dear, you should try to find the good in your upbringing too” sort of thing.

  6. Andrea says:

    Oh the battles I fought over this. My mother literally still did my hair for me when I was 16. And still dictated every hairstyle and outfit well into my late 20’s. Going to church was a stomach-twisting nightmare because she was working on preening me (her live-baby doll) to look like a Christian trophy wife so SHE in turn, would look good for raising me. She acted like everything hinged on me having “big soft curls.” She would compare me daily to the “good” girls who did their hair like the country girls in the Christian novels. They wore large, lace, collars and big, gathered skirts, and pastors were always trying to marry their sons off to these girls. If I tried to wear an outfit that was in any way outside of her ideal, she would critique my body shape saying (normally) that I was too fat, or too pear-shaped to wear it. She would tell me that my style just wasn’t my “look” and that her look and her tastes actually looked best on me. She ruined so many interviews because days before I was to go, she would star picking out my clothes and telling me how to do my hair. I was always a panicked mess by the time I walked in for my interview.
    So when you call this stuff insidious, I totally agree. She used these Christian rules to control every aspect of my life.

  7. Nicole says:

    I kept wanting to cheer as I read this. So much truth. I’m another woman who grew up in Church and always “knew” that I wasn’t “godly” enough for many people because I wasn’t beautiful and ultra-feminine.

  8. Dani says:

    I appreciate this post so much. I have a different story (of course, we all do, but, you know.)

    When I could manage it (outside my Christian school where I had to wear skirts & feminine shirts), I wore men’s clothing for a while. I tried to look as non-sexual as I possibly could, while also embracing a bit of a goth/punk look. Christian friends and mentors constantly told me how concerned they were that I wasn’t presenting myself as feminine. So, “convicted” one summer, I went shopping for more feminine clothing.

    The problem, though, is that I had an hourglass figure. Now that the guys at my church camp could see my figure, they started touching me, laughing at me when I told them to stop and telling me I was overreacting when I would lash out at them. Guys at school started doing the same thing. (Not ALL guys, of course. But you know. If ANY guy can do such things, then I must have been doing something wrong – after all, when I was assaulted in college the first question out of the mouth of every. single. person that I told was, “What were you wearing?”) So I pulled out of school and went back to wearing mostly androgynous clothing.

    Sometime around college, I finally was able to start wearing more feminine clothing, but never anything SUPER “girly” because the same thing would happen — dresses, skirts, pants that fit my hips/butt/thighs, V-neck shirts (even with camis underneath), all seemed to tell the men around me on the street, in school, at church camp, that my body was open for business. I remember “coming to terms” with the fact that my body just existed for everyone else, and it was just my job to keep the harassment & “touching” (I couldn’t call it assault) to a minimum so I’d be “as whole as I could be” for my husband.

    I’d have brave moments sometimes. I wore a red, form-fitting, strapless dress to an event with my college Bible study. I almost ran to my room to change when my grandmother saw me in the dress and said, “Those boys will eat you alive.” I was terrified. Wrapped myself in a thick black wrap thing all evening (until I’d had a little bit of alcohol and relaxed a little bit). That evening went well, but the reaction whenever I’d try to wear a dress or put effort into making myself more feminine was always such that I either retreated to baggyness or more or less disassociated so the touching and attention didn’t feel like it affected me.

    I’m not sure where I was going with this, exactly. Just…memories of being in that world.

    • Dani I am so sorry that happened to you. I had similar experiences and it’s taken me 18 years (the whole time I’ve been married) to work through these issues with counseling, group therapy etc. Thankfully I married a man who is now studying to be a psychologist and this is an area he’s really understood (given he’s walked it with me). Together we’ve slowly found healing which has been hard when it’s really challenged the whole intimacy in our marriage. Thank you for sharing and speaking up about this terrible stuff that happens to many girls/women.

  9. Jen says:

    Hi, just reflecting a bit on your use of ‘Christian’ and ‘Christian culture’ – this piece seems very much reflective of an American Christian cultural context – I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently as I love reading blogs by American Christian writers, some of it I can relate to but there is a lot that is very alien to my experience within British evangelicalism yet what is discussed is presented as the norm for ‘Christians’ rather than ‘American Christians’ – is there a case for making a distinction or am I splitting hairs?

    • There is, I am mostly talking about American Evangelical Christian culture, but to constantly reiterate that gets exhausting, especially because over the years I’ve gotten so much “not all like that, stop generalizing” comments no matter how specific I frame what I’m writing.

  10. Oh, I so remember this: Be feminine and pretty, but not sexy (until you’re married, because your husband needs to think you’re hot, but no one else can.), and you can’t be worldly and superficial, but you have to be concerned with your appearance, and if you have large breasts (which I do), you are somehow supposed to ensure that men aren’t aware of your breasts without wearing baggy clothing, which is of course impossible in our current plane of reality.

    I’ve been out of the subculture long enough that this stuff just amuses me now, but it really did a number on me in my teens and twenties.

  11. Hope says:

    “6 inches of store-bought cake frosting”–the best description of the “Christian woman voice” ever! I think the voice is my least favorite thing about the image. It is hard to tell what’s genuine or not when it’s said in “the voice.”

  12. olivialamb says:

    I can completely understand everything you wrote. I feel exactly the same way. Thank you for your honesty.

  13. olivialamb says:

    Reblogged this on Therapist with a Mental Illness and commented:
    This really resonated with me.

  14. Revenwyn says:

    I remember when I was in homeschooling my mother buying what was called the Christian Charm Course and I remember thinking that I could never meet the standards: I went from a girl’s 14 to a women’s 14 in six months (because I’m half Cherokee and have a HUGE rib cage… I was adopted, my family did not understand that my build was NOT European), I also developed trichotillomania when I was 11 and lost all my hair and bit my nails to stubs. Then, because I was busty I was made to wear clothing that was a 2XL men’s t-shirt and shapeless skirts. I also have less than the average distance between collarbone and breast tissue. My family said I was fat (despite being able to see my ribs at a size 14), bald, and ugly and that no man would ever want to marry me. Before I was adopted I had been raped repeatedly by both a man and a woman who were supposed to be my foster parents daily over the course of about two months. When I was 17 I again became a rape victim.

    Now I am 30 and having believed my families’ lies about me for so long I ended up in a bad marriage because I settled for the first man who would pay attention to me. My husband is not exactly abusive but he’s very emotionally draining, a child not a man. And I’m so tired of fighting through life anymore.

    (Oh, and currently I fit in the “Dark” category; I consider myself Christian but love the Goth makeup and styles. I don’t show cleavage, I just like their flare for the unusual.)

    • karlsmum says:

      Big hugs to you Revenwyn, I so know that feeling of being tired of fighting. It’s exhausting. I hope that your journey continues and that you find healing and freedom from this.

  15. Must Reads! says:

    […] The impossible standards of Christian beauty expectations by Toranse […]

  16. Lisa says:

    Trigger Warnings: I’ve mentioned my own experience of sexual abuse, plus self-destructive behaviour.

    Um…okay…I’m new to this blog, actually — started reading two days ago when the link to this blogpost was put up on the Love, Joy, Feminism FB page — and in those last two days I’ve read every single post you’ve put up here because it resonates so, so much with me (and I know this sounds selfish but reading the same thoughts I’ve been thinking all these years has been such an
    immensely cathartic experience).

    I was born and brought up Catholic, and was sexually abused by my brother when I was 6, which my mother stopped when I told her after the third time he attempted to do it. I blocked the memories and unfortunately Mum thought that was that, so when I started getting flashbacks at 12 she simply couldn’t understand why I “made such a big deal about it” or wanted to keep talking about it. I was forced to keep silent because my constant fear around him and my need to want to speak about it was making him uncomfortable — and it resulted in me turning to self-destructive behaviours, including comfort-eating to the point where it made me sick and trichotillomania. Even today, Mum insists on being in denial, and her main argument is “but you didn’t lose your virginity!”

    I’m from South India, and some of the churches where I came from (not all) insist on women still wearing veils, and wearing either a sari or a loose salwar-khameez (that’s basically a tunic and long loose pants. Sometimes the pants can be tight but only around the ankles). Anything else – including jeans, T-shirts, even a knee-length dress – will mean that you could be denied Holy Communion that day. Interestingly men never needed to cover their heads OR wear traditional clothes, they could wear shirt and trousers, and I remember seeing a few of them wearing jeans too. We’re never allowed to be comfortable in our bodies.

    You also mentioned ‘innocence’ an important factor in determining beauty in a Christian woman, and it got me really thinking about this. Virginity and ‘innocence’ are put up on such a high pedestal that – besides defining beauty in Christian culture – I think it also gives those of us brought up in that faith very weird ideas about the distinctions between consensual sex and rape. Often I feel rape/sexual abuse is condemned there not so much as a violation of someone’s body and someone’s choices, but because the survivor loses ‘innocence’. Which is why though you have passages that talk about rape, like Tamar in Samuel 2, there never is even hope left for the survivor. Tamar stays ‘desolate’ in her brother’s home till the end of her life, and the very brother who took revenge on Amnon for what happened to Tamar does the same to his father’s concubines — what in the world is the difference between Absolom and Amnon then?

    It also got me thinking about the saints the Church chooses as patrons for rape survivors: I can’t name a single one who didn’t – according to the Church – choose to die rather than survive her rape. Maria Goretti. Agnes. Dymphna. Solange. All of them our so-called patron saints because they ‘chose’ to keep their virginity intact. How can one even CALL that a choice!! And Maria Goretti as a saint is especially distressing because she is also lauded for forgiving her abuser, and it reeks of the same attitude meted out to survivors by lots of Christians even today.

    I know I’m rambling a lot here and not making sense, but it’s almost like those floodgates. One push and it all comes out. I’m sorry if anything I said is triggering to anyone here, I still find trouble in making my speech safe for people but I’m trying and learning every day.

    • karlsmum says:

      Oh Lisa :( Incest is part of my story too so I understand that experience of not being believed and then things shoved under the carpet. I’m not sure if you’ve read anything on sexual abuse to help you in your recovery but there is a book called “The Wounded Heart” by Dan Allender which is an amazing read (hard to read but helped me in my recovery). If there was one resource that I would recommend in someone’s recovery it’s that one. My heart goes out to anyone who has walked this path, it’s truly horrible.

  17. I wasn’t raised in Christianity, but came into it in my 20s, which was a very vulnerable time for me. I, like you, had been molested (maternal grandfathher). I had been very sexually active before I was involved with Christianity, but after I was expected to just shut it off somehow. I did for good while (5 years). I’m SO glad you voiced this because I had always felt it, but never had the words for it. I changed who I was COMPLETELY. I toned down my hair and makeup. I lost weight. I stopped wearing shorts and short skirts. I stopped wearing heels. I never wore anything remotely tight fitting. I stopped going swimming for fear some guy would use my image for his mental spank bank. I even stopped wearing sleeveless shirts because I was told that my bare arms incited lust. I bought bras that flattened my chest. I TRIED so hard to conform, but it was very confusing and lonely since I felt, like you, that I never quite fit in. My body was something gross. It smelled and sweated. My hair was always too wild. I desperately wanted to be one of those women for whom it seemed so effortless. They came to church with no makeup on and glowed and always had the best looking boyfriends/husbands. Their life seemed to be so perfect while I felt isolated and awkward. So, thank you again. I feel a little less alone.

  18. […] feminine. Blogger Toranse at Somatic Strength recently brought all of this back to me. I’m going to quote from their post on the topic, and then add more of my own thoughts and […]

  19. Lani Harper says:

    Thank you for saying this! You have articulated with a beautiful and vulnerable anguish the things that I haven’t been able to articulate about how I grew up. My mother was also hands-off, and I have struggled and fought to figure out the things she should have taught me. Thank you for your openness.

  20. WarmSocks says:

    This made me want to cry. Fortunately, I have not been in the same churches you have and have never experienced such shallow judgments about appearance. There is a distinction between people who warm a pew on Sunday mornings, and true followers of Christ. I’m sorry that you were exposed to the first and not the second.

    • yes, because my entire church, all the literature I’ve read, every Christian I’ve encountered have all been just pew warmers, instead of “true followers.” Instead of people actually dedicated to these beliefs and the belief that this is the kind of doctrine that makes up Christianity.

      Just you and the churches you’ve been too are real Christians, that’s it. And when you get to heaven they’ll be, what, only 300 “true followers”?

      • WarmSocks says:

        Not at all what I said, and I apologize if it came across that way. I never claimed to be perfect, and there have surely been hypocrites in the churches I’ve attended. I’ve even left a few due to wrongs I’ve seen perpetuated there. That doesn’t negate the message of the gospel, though. God’s the one who determines who’s in heaven, not me.

        All that aside, your blog post describes a phenomenon to which I have not been exposed. It is sad to hear that such things are taking place. Perhaps I’m too oblivious, but I have not ever felt subjected to the pressures you describe. The messages I hear are that what’s inside is much more important than what’s on the outside. That old cliché,”Beauty is only skin deep” is true. And honestly, I have too much to do managing my own life to try to impose my fashion sense (or lack thereof) on others. I just assume others are in the same boat. It would not occur to me that people have either the time or the inclination to make judgments about my relationship with God based on my appearance rather than my conduct. I’m truly sorry that you’ve experienced differently.

        • Okay, so the problem here is that really you’re just repeating your initial point: that Christians who do things you don’t like aren’t true Christians, they’re hypocrites, they’re not following Christ, etc.

          What is a Christian other than someone who practices Christianity? What is conservative Christian culture other than a set of behaviors and norms practiced by a large enough percentage of conservative Christians that it sets the baseline? By the standards of the Christianity both Toranse and I and many others were raised with, you would be considered the hypocrite who doesn’t follow Christ.

          Your insistence that your individual views define the true message of the gospel is, honestly, both silly and arrogant. The people who have hurt us are just as certain of their closeness to God’s Truth as you. You have no standing to say that they don’t represent Christianity because they aren’t your understanding of the word.

          If women are discussing misogyny from men and a man steps in to say “real men don’t hate women” does it actually add anything to the discussion? Is it any comfort to the wounded to step in and say “well *I* wouldn’t have hurt you!”? Is it a valid rebuttal of larger social trends to stand up and shout “but that’s not me! I’m not an oppressor!”.

          You do not feel subjected to these pressures. I’m glad for you. I truly mean that, with no sarcasm; however, it is completely irrelevant to the people who have experienced those pressures and can point to large scale structures in the culture that enable those abuses and shield the abusers.

          • WarmSocks says:

            With all due respect, I don’t believe your analogy fits. If women are discussing misogyny from men and a man steps in to say “real men don’t hate women” does it actually add anything to the discussion? Possession of a Y chromosome is a biological fact, not a belief system.

            If someone says, “I believe in obeying all traffic laws,” but they drive 80 on the freeway and run red lights, then their actions tell us that they don’t really believe in obeying all traffic laws. We know what people believe by observing their lives, not by reading their lips.

            In fact, it doesn’t actually matter how I define Christianity. Sitting in a church building doesn’t make people Christians any more than parking stuff in a garage makes it a car. What matters is what God’s word says. People’s actions either follow what the Bible says, or they don’t. It doesn’t matter what I think about it one way or the other because I’m not the judge.

            Be that as it may, I get the impression that people here are determined to misinterpret what I’m saying, so it might be best if I bow out of this discussion. I am genuinely sorry that so many here were/are hurt.

            • Ah, but the problem with your traffic law analogy is that Christianity isn’t as well defined as traffic laws or else it wouldn’t have a 2000 year history of debates over theology and the practice thereof. If adherence to doctrine was as easy to measure as speed, then religion would be far simpler. Of course, that’s obviously not true, right? The problem is that you are stating “these people are not following my doctrine and thus are not Real Christians(tm)” but that’s exactly what our abusers would say about you. That is, simply, why discussions of “Real Christians” are completely and utterly pointless.

          • Sar says:

            Yes! I am so glad you said that. I am so sick of people who claim their particular brand of Christianity is true Christianity and the other guy is a fake. Usually with no concept of the irony when the other guy says the same thing about them!

  21. lex semper accusat says:

    Yeah, it looks like pietism strikes again. It is a soul killer for sure.

    Christianity is not about what you do, but what Christ does for you.

    This line is a perfect example of the despair caused by pietism:

    “Christian beauty standards for women foster contempt for your own body, because you can’t meet it.”

    These damned standards are not coming from Christ. If anything, they are an attack from the devil on the women of the church.

    Ugh, the all law, and no gospel churches abuse the members.

    That horrid book in the pictures exemplifies ‘lex semper accusat.’

    Here is the best statement I have seen from a Christian on the topic of modesty:

    “Law as mirror
    The real reason to dress modestly is not to smother another’s lust, which is impossible, but to cover one’s own pride. That’s why the notion makes ladies angry.”

    Clearly the beautiful girls at church that you describe totally fail at covering their own pride. They were very proud of appearing to meet the beauty standards in their community. Plenty of pride there much like the Pharisees who interpreted the Law in a fashion so as to appear that they and few others were actually keeping it, which is impossible. No one keeps the law. Lex semper accusat.

    This blog is a real heartbreaker.

    Best to you.

    • You should cover your own pride, because your arrogant comment is leaking all over my blog.

      Modesty standards are all ridiculous, and the fact that you feel the need to disparage girls — this post is about the standards I learned as a teenager, so you’re criticizing CHILDREN — who deal with more extreme versions of our misogynistic culture…that’s pretty disgusting.

      And I love, love (and by love, I mean abhor) men who like to not take responsibility for the patriarchal religion they created and instead say it’s a “devil’s attack.” Never blame on Satan what can easily be attributed to people.

      All reframing modesty like this does is and another impossible standard to Christian women.

      And thank you for your comment, because it’s people like you that make me remember what my Christian upbringing was like and why exactly I find your Christianity and your God to be such a disgusting, vile, wicked monster.

    • Ani says:

      Okay, man, here’s how it goes:

      If you’re pretty, you’re too proud. If you’re not pretty, you need to stop hating yourself and have a little pride in “what God gave you.” He didn’t give you such a nice face for you to frown all the time!

      Let me try and explain something. From day one people socialized as women get told a few things. One? We’re only really good for being looked at. Two? Our greatest value comes from being fuckable. Three? If we’re too fuckable, it’s our fault if terrible things happen to us, because “we’re asking for it”. Four? If we’re not fuckable enough, it’s our fault if we spend our lives unloved, because “we need to try harder.” Are you starting to scratch your head and go ‘well, shit, that’s impossible’? Because it is.

      So what do we do? We don’t have that many options. We have to walk an outright nonexistent line and hope that the least amount of terrible things happens to us. If we demand respect we’re frigid feminist bitches. If we never stand up for ourselves because we’re afraid we can’t exactly expect anyone to respect us if we don’t respect ourselves, can we? We do our best, and we love ourselves, because really, with folks like you floating around, demeaning us no matter what we do, what other choices are there if we want anyone to recognize that we’re worthwhile human beings?

      We stop asking for respect, and instead we demand it. And if you want to talk about the Law, I can do that. Because Christ said that whoever wanted to be His true follower must be willing to carry His burdens and experience His sufferings, and that whosoever wanted to be first must put themselves least. He said that all things must be in service of the Father, and that faith and right action superseded all else. So I’m not sure where you’re getting this ~not about what You can do for Christ, but what Christ can do for You~ because Jesus was pretty clear when He said “nah, man, don’t run your mouth off unless you can back it up”. How many times did He call out the hypocrites?

      Beyond that… how many times did He reject the Law as it was laid out in the Tanakh, specifically in Leviticus, because He was bringing a “new kingdom”? And wasn’t that kind of what people, y’know, crucified Him for? Hmm? Or did we read a different Bible?

      Take your patronizing “best” and bring it somewhere else. You don’t get to come here and insist “yeah well we’re not ALL like that, maybe you should just stop being proud and demanding this sort of thing” and then expect that it’ll go by. If it comes down to hating myself or loving myself, I’m choosing loving myself–and I’m lucky to be able to do that, because a lot of people aren’t.

      Think about what you say before you say it, because one of those proud girls who don’t give a damn if you approve of her modesty or lack thereof might actually know your Bible better than you do. “What Christ can do for you.” Please.

    • Tiffany says:

      Why wouldn’t I be proud of my own beauty? Women are told from childhood they aren’t supposed to have power and own their body and be happy in themselves…they must always receive validation from others, and never within themselves. It’s not being vain, it’s self-love and appreciating your body and self for what it can do. And defining attractiveness/beauty by your own terms, not anyone else’s. So you can go take your misogynistic, screwed up ideals of “modesty” and rape culture and go elsewhere, seriously.

  22. […] “While dismissing “worldly” standards of beauty, Christian culture actually holds women up to an even higher standard of appearance: your physical beauty is both entirely dependent on who you are as a person and how you conform to feminine standards of behavior and you should meet Christian standards of beauty appearance while pretending that you’re not focusing at all on your beauty.” The impossible standards of Christian beauty expectations – Speaking when the world sleeps […]

  23. Rae says:

    So I know I’m coming in on this way late, but wow…. this is so familiar and frustrating.

    One of my friends likes to say “When men say they like a woman without makeup, they mean they like a woman who they can’t tell is wearing makeup.” When I was young and in church and didn’t know that I was so confused. Even though all the guys said they liked girls without makeup, my constantly makeup-free self was ignored in favor of the girls who did wear makeup. None of us thought it was a secret that they were wearing makeup – we all could see the mascara on their eyelashes, the shinyness and slight sparkle of their lip gloss, and their unattainably smooth and perfect looking skin. It took me until sometime in college that I realized these guys really genuinely didn’t even think of the possibility that those girls were wearing any makeup just because they didn’t see any bright blue eyeshadow or false eyelashes or glittery hot pink lip gloss.

    And then to make things more complicated, all these modesty “rules” were set up, but even if you managed to play perfectly into every single one, and wear the exact same outfits as the girls in the Focus on the Family magazines wore, if a guy was still somehow turned on by you, all of that went out the window because you ~must~ be doing ~something~ wrong because if you were totally pure he wouldn’t be thinking impure thoughts, would he? *facepalm* God, it stresses me out just thinking about it :-(

    But I think the “no makeup” BS has had a lot of impact on my self-image. After a life of being told that men should think I’m beautiful if I do or don’t do certain things, and then finding myself passed over in favor of prettier girls who weren’t doing all of that so carefully and it felt like they were “cheating”, I still sometimes feel a strong need to be seen as pretty and desirable, even though (I’m pretty sure) I’m asexual and don’t want to actually act on any desires. If anyone can understand that at all, or am I just being weird?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s