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Religion, Theology and Self-Improvement Sundays: Women, Religion, Theology and Society Part 11

Who would think that the Janet Jackson, Linda Tripp, Katherine Harris, and pre-school girls would all have something in common? It may not have been noticed by too many people this past week, but all of these females demonstrated the intense pressure that all women face to conform to an image of physical beauty, even when in environments where their talent, skills, mental capacity and character are supposed to be the dominating focus.

Watching Janet Jackson receive an award at the American Music Awards was an experience. They played a video commemorating many of her lifetime achievements as well as the evolution of her career as a singer and actress. What was most interesting, at least to a few, was the manner in which her physical appearance has changed as the result of the plastic surgery (or surgeries) that she has undergone. By almost everyone's standards, when she was in her teens, Janet Jackson was a very attractive young lady. What could or would compel her to permit a doctor to alter her facial features? Features for which she had already gained positive attention (at least publicly). What "look" was Janet looking for or being advised to obtain?

Then later in the week we saw and learned from Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, in an interview, of what it was like for her to receive ridicule for her facial appearance and use or misuse of makeup. Ms. Harris demonstrated a good deal of humor about the whole matter, but one can only wonder how the focus of attention, in the mainstream and political media, moved so quickly from Sec. Harris' ability to perform her job to the subject of how many layers of make-up she puts on her face and how thick her mascara is.

Then later in the week, there was Linda Tripp, again in a TV interview, revealing how she feels her physical appearance contributed to her lack of popularity with the American public. The result of Ms. Tripp's opinion, which was influenced by the humiliation and ridicule she received for her looks, is that one can hardly recognize her anymore as her facial appearance has been so altered by plastic surgery. Interestingly, Ms. Tripp still owes enormous legal fees, yet somehow found the necessary resources to afford a reconstruction of her facial features (and... we will not even get into all of the emotional and physical "changes" that Paula Jones has gone through since her lawsuit against President Clinton for sexual harassment - a supposedly "political" event that soon moved into the world of ridicule, caricatures, plastic surgery and posing nude).

Again, we are forced to ask how did all of this move from an investigation into an Oval Office affair and chargers of perjury and into the domain of how "ugly" Linda Tripp is?

And finally we were greeted with the story in the Philadelphia Inquirer this week, which reports the result of a study where it was revealed that pre-school girls are concerned about "weight issues", and how the efforts of their parent's to help them through it only seek to compound the article. Again, it is interesting how the discussion of obesity and weight problems moves out of the realm of health and into the realm of physical appearance. Evidently, even pre-school girls, at school and certainly via television, are being conditioned to think that you have to look a certain way in order to be seen as "pretty" and that being overweight has nothing to with your health but everything to do with whether you will be asked out on a date or taken to the prom.

Once more, this issue of physical appearance is coming up in an environment where the early education and development of the mind and character are said to be the highest priority.

We thought something was wrong about what we saw this week and think that all of these examples tie-in with what we have written over the last three months on this subject regarding the concept of "woman" and "female" as it originated in the mind of God and what we are offered today as the concept of the "ideal" woman that young girls and even older "girls" are miseducated and pressured into accepting and aspiring to.

The devaluation of the female based upon her physical appearance, even in the face of her demonstrated mental ability, talent and skills has to be one of the clearest signs that Satan, and not God, has been in power over the last several thousand years. And it is clear now, that this is taking place throughout the world and regardless to race, creed, color, religion, nationality and political persuasion.

The original woman created by God, in the beginning, is not being offered to the public as the ideal woman today. And this is almost universally true in religion, in politics, and in art.

As we enter the final portion of this series we will look at how this circumstance is in the process of being reversed - for good.

Cedric Muhammad

Sunday, January 14, 2001

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