Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A 'Recipe for Beauty'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A 'Recipe for Beauty'

Article excerpt

A Christian Science perspective.

An episode of "The Twilight Zone," a science fiction television series of the 1960s, was set in an imagined society where everyone underwent procedures to remake themselves into a stereotypical image of a beautiful person, such as featured in fashion magazines. The narrator introduced the show saying, "Let's call it the year 2000..." (Jan. 24, 1964).

Well, it's now 2010, and although not everyone has yet been artificially remade to look like a model, the number of cosmetic procedures done in the United States has increased to over 10 million a year, up by at least 50 percent since 2000. In her recently published book "Ugly as Sin: The Truth about How We Look and Finding Freedom from Self-hatred," author Toni Raiten-D'Antonio wrote, "Every inch of the human body is now subject to cosmetic intervention," and in an increasing number of professions, a stereotyped, ultra-youthful appearance, often achieved through cosmetic procedures, is deemed an essential ingredient to success.

Is such a focus on attempting to conform to a narrow idea of good looks the way to achieve real beauty? While I wouldn't want to outline what measures anyone should or should not take in regard to their appearance, I've learned through my study that Christian Science offers original ways to think about beauty.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Monitor's founder, valued humanity's expression of beauty, but she concluded that the most effective way to find it was by spiritual, not material, means. In the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," she wrote, "The recipe for beauty is to have less illusion and more Soul, to retreat from the belief of pain or pleasure in the body into the unchanging calm and glorious freedom of spiritual harmony" (p. 247). Here Soul is a synonym for God.

But is this spiritual approach still practical in the modern world where, for example, studies show that women judged to be prettier earn more than their plainer colleagues?

Although statistics show that cosmetic procedures have increased in frequency, an awareness has simultaneously arisen that a sense of true individuality can sometimes be lost in the extreme pursuit of a contrived style of appearance. …

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