Alright, it’s honesty time. In the spirit of being transparent about my own short-comings I hope you don’t think I’m a big fat jerk! So here goes…
One of the things that I have to actively resist doing on a fairly regular basis is criticizing other women who dress inappropriately. It’s so tempting to snicker in my husband’s ear whenever a woman comes to a wedding dressed like she just came from the club. I’m also prone to the exaggerated eye roll when we’re standing in line behind a woman wearing a shirt that is at LEAST two sizes too small.
Sadly, the primary reason I DON’T make these comments is that I know how unattractive it is to my husband. Unless there is something overtly comical about the situation, he usually just ignores my comments. As a result, my mean-hearted nature is reined in, not by my desire to honor God, but by my desire not to look pathetic.
It’s funny how these elementary school behaviors follow us into adulthood. It wasn’t so long ago that my mom comforted my 7 year-old self saying, “Those girls are tearing you down just to make themselves feel better about themselves!” Twenty years later, it’s still happening. And my mom was totally right–as much as I would like to say that my comments are an expression of righteous indignation, they’re just a sign of insecurity.
While there is no part of me that wants to be the hoochie mama at the wedding, I DO want to know that my husband is still attracted to me. I want to know that he sees right through that kind of exterior and values my godly character more highly. I want to be reassured that he appreciates my modesty and my desire to honor him in the way I carry myself. So I use mean-spirited comments to provoke the affirmation I crave. That makes TOTAL sense, right?
The temptation to make sarcastic comments about another woman’s outfit, shoes, hair, cleavage, etc. is a clear indicator of a deeper issue. After all, what did that woman ever do to you? Such displays of competitive behavior reveal an underlying insecurity about ourselves, and it’s important to grapple with them. What is causing you to feel insecure? Why do you need your husband or boyfriend to recognize another woman’s short-comings? What are you relying on for confidence instead of God? These are all important questions to consider before mouthing off about another woman.
But before I close, I want to end with a special word to my guy readers. I understand that female cattiness is ugly and ridiculous and we need to cut it out. However, you can also help us. From the time we are single, Christian women are confronted with a great divide between what guys say they want in a Christian girl, and the girls they actually pursue. I have a distinct memory of sitting outside a Sunday School room listening to a bunch of guys go on and on about a popular busty, blonde pop star, crowing about how “smokin’ hot” she was. In one fell blow, my efforts to have a beautiful character were reduced to smithereens. They felt meaningless.
And that feeling doesn’t necessarily go away in marriage. While my husband doesn’t talk about all the actresses he finds attractive, I know that I don’t look like them. And that makes me sometimes wonder if he wishes that I did.
The onslaught of unrealistic standards of beauty does not go away when you get married. As long as we live in this culture it will be ever-present for every woman. And while it is the primary responsibility of a Christian woman to rest in her Creator’s arms and trust that He made her perfectly, we still need our brothers’ help. Whether you are single or married, make sure you are affirming the significant women in your life. Tell them they’re beautiful, but more importantly compliment their character.
I’ll end with the below verse that is one of my favorites. It is a convicting reminder when faced with the temptation to slander another woman. Not only does it remind me of the kind of woman I should be, but that I should affirm my sisters with praise instead of tearing them down with sarcasm.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
– Proverbs 31:30