Today's society is obsessed with beautiful bodies. Some people are out of balance as they seek to have bodies that only 5% of our population possess, and many of the other 95% are frustrated in their efforts to achieve the impossible. All of us have bodies that are shaped and sized following the genetic patterns established by our progenitors. Eating wisely and exercising properly will help people maximize their potential, but as they do so, they will be happier as they accept and are grateful for the bodies they have been given.

The media bombards us with pictures of men and women who have bodies that have been digitally enhanced. What we see most often are not real people, yet we are given messages that our bodies are unacceptable, unless of course, we buy and use wonderful, new, even magical, products. The effects of the products are at best temporary and the end result is still the same: few people like the bodies they have.

Almost all of us wish our bodies were different in one way or another. Even super models struggle with self-esteem and live in fear that they will lose their beauty if they gain weight. Some think they will only be accepted if they maintain perfect outward appearances and fear they will never be loved for what they are on the inside. Unfortunately, people continue to be taken in by the media; they continue to believe their core value is determined by the shape and size of their bodies.

Adults and youths are being seduced into thinking that their happiness lies in having a perfect shape and looking forever young. Cosmetic surgeons busily and profitably sculpt bodies into something our society deems to be more acceptable. Women in increasing numbers suffer the terrible effects of bulimia and anorexia because they are caught in their fixations for perfectly thin bodies.

Some invest fortunes, time, and energy worrying about appearances that in the long run are of little consequence. On the other hand, others wisely declare their independence from foolish pride and vanity and refuse to be controlled by the tyranny of media images.

Death ultimately comes to all, and people of faith look forward to the promise of perfectly resurrected bodies. Will our resurrected bodies be short or tall, thin or wide? Will anyone even care? Will it make a difference in how we experience life in the hereafter?

What if we spent our energy developing our inner beauty?

By obsessively focusing on our bodies, we over-emphasize the things that matter least and lose sight of the things that matter most?

Fortunately, many people of all sizes and shapes have found they can be happy, can love and be loved, can marry successfully, can have children, can progress in their careers, and can enjoy happy and fulfilling lives just as they are.

How refreshing to see husbands and wives; family and friends assure each other of their love and devotion even though their bodies may have gone through the interesting changes of aging. Three cheers for people who have learned to look beyond outward appearances to the basic goodness and rich qualities found in those who make and honor marital commitments, are positive, enjoy life, and create genuine companionships.

Beauty still is only skin deep. People must not be blinded by society's definition of beauty but look instead for well-developed minds and shapely characters. The most important attributes to develop are to love God and one another, live good lives, and enjoy the blessings of happiness.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on Strengthening Marriage and Family. It has been republished here with permission.

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