True Beauty (review & giveaway)

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I started growing my hair out when my son was born three years ago. It had hardly been much past my shoulders since I’d chopped it off around age 13. I was ready to see what long hair felt like. I wanted to know if I would be as beautiful as those women whose long hair I admired.

I enjoyed the process. I loved having longer curls. But the extended hair care regime just wasn’t practical. And, over time, I realized it just wasn’t me. Even if it did make me feel glamorous.

My mom’s hairdresser could hardly bear to cut it all off. And I wasn’t sure what to think of the face looking back at me from the mirror for those first few days. But it wasn’t long before I was smiling at the lighter feel of my haircut. (Not to mention the added benefit that my husband always has liked my short ‘do.)

A few weeks later, my oldest daughter asked me to cut her hair short, just like mine. I wasn’t expecting that. But her standard of beauty had changed. And it was humbling to realize anew that, as flawed as I am, I am my daughter’s standard of beauty.

True Beauty (a review & #giveaway)Where do we get our standard of beauty? Is it our mothers, our sisters, our church, our culture, or a combination of them all? In True Beauty, Carolyn Mahaney and her daughter Nicole Whitacre explore the biblical standard of beauty. But it’s not what you’d expect. It’s not a book full of legalistic rules. There’s no discussion of hem lines or rules about how low is too low. Instead, True Beauty goes straight to the heart of modesty: our heart, and what we believe about beauty.

“The more we see God’s beauty, the more our taste for beauty will be transformed… When we try to get attention for our own beauty, we cease to give God glory for his beauty.”
True Beauty

But Carolyn and Nicole don’t stop there. They dig into our perceptions of other women’s beauty and even the way we react to our own husband’s compliments. True Beauty provides a thought-provoking read that will become a classic for Christian women, along with Carolyn’s Feminine Appeal.

“Nothing ruffles a gentle and quiet spirit faster than comparing ourselves to other women.”

Though True Beauty starts out a bit slow, I was quickly drawn into its pages by the refreshing discussion it contained. If you’re weary of the modesty debatesTrue Beauty reads like a cool glass of water on a summer day. And it’s guaranteed to challenge and change not only your definition of modesty, but your standard of beauty.

“The question is: in my cultural context, do my clothes celebrate femininity and the beauty of God?”

What has influenced your standard of beauty? 

Comment to enter a giveaway for a copy of True Beauty. (Giveaway ended May 12 at midnight EST. Congratulations to Libby, selected by as the winner. Review copy provided by NetGalley; giveaway copy sponsored by Kindred Grace.)

P.S. True Beauty is the perfect companion to our own Trina Holden’s book Embracing Beauty. Carolyn and Nicole help us understand the standard of true beauty, while Trina delves into practical application of embracing beauty within our wardrobes. (Read some team reviews of Trina’s book from Emily and myself, as well as Trina’s post “Called to Be Ambassadors of Beauty“.)


  1. Emily Upchurch says:

    I’ve had my eye on this book since it came out…and I’ve been anticipating it since they announced they were writing it around 4 years ago!

  2. I would love to be entered!

  3. I find my perceptions of (physical) beauty are influence by how much I like or admire a person. I tend to watch people, but with my knowledge of who that person is always in the background. People are so much more than just outward appearance…. but that outward appearance is also an expression of the heart inside, or the things one has been taught, or what someone is trying to mimic. It’s complicated! But it’s also fun. Society’s ideas of beauty still influence my view of myself too much, but at least I don’t take all my cues from that.

  4. Elizabeth Anderson says:

    My sisters and some of the Godly ladies that have been placed in my life. As I have grown in my walk with Christ, He has been teaching me that beauty comes from Him and that He is the ultimate standard of beauty.

  5. Esther Anderson says:

    This sounds like a good book! Thanks for the giveaway! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. God’s view of the heart has influenced my view of beauty the most. Thank you for the giveaway.

  7. Thank you so much for this review, Gretchen, I want to read the book more than ever now! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. My mom definitely had a large role in forming my view of “beautiful.”

  9. The Lord says we are fearfully and wonderfully made…and as His child, I think He thinks I am beautiful because He made me, in His image.

  10. I have wanted to read this book ever since I heard the Mahaney girls were writing it.

    I suppose that sadly even from a young age I’ve been subconsciously aware of the perceived beauty presented in films, adverts, etc. And like those around me the airbrushed models certainly seem a lot prettier than average people like us.

  11. My standard of beauty….that’s a difficult question to answer. I really struggle with this – I tend to constantly compare myself to those around me instead of focusing on what God says about me. Thank you for this giveaway – I really want to read this book!

  12. Would love to win a copy! Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

  13. Wow, this sounds like an amazing book……would love to win! Thanks so much for this great giveaway ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I am not sure where my standard of beauty comes from. I would look in the mirror and think “I am almost pretty!” which is really a surprising thought. I don’t think i am a stunning beauty according to the world’s standards. I don’t bother to wear makeup because it would make me feel fake and i really can’t be bothered. I think its a growing sense of feeling loved and the knowledge that i am a child of God that makes me feel beautiful.

  15. Samantha R says:

    I think my standard of beauty has come from my mom but also a few close special friends who have shown me that TRUE beauty is on the inside and that is what is most important! ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t wear a lot of makeup because I don’t think I *really* need it. Usually it’s just to cover up blemishes or for special occasions. I guess you could say that I’m comfortable with how I look most of the time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. What has influenced me most is what God says about me. I grew up thinking I was really ugly, but turned out just the unkind words people were saying to me were ugly. I was a long, haired blonde in the 70’s, 5’6″ and shapely, never thin but long legged. I wanted attention from anyone who would give it to me and that got me into lots of stuff that wasn’t good for me or God honoring. Then, when I had finally gotten help from a Christ-centered counselor and after a Post-abortion Bible study through Care Net, God’s Word, God got through. Ps 139:13-14 weren’t just verses anymore but they were affirmations that no matter what God knew me and Jeremiah 31:3 reminded me that He loved me with and everlasting love. Then, the verse in the NT that while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me . . . made all the difference. I share His love for the women in my life as often as I can and am ready to go through another session of Lies that Young Women Believe at church. This book will be on my get list and share list too. He makes all the difference . . . He . . . Jesus. Thanks for having the giveaway and for sharing the book. Blessings to you and all.

  17. My standard of beauty has been greatly influenced by my mom and sisters and the negative things they’ve said to me which led me to struggling with a negative perception of beauty for a long time. However, in recent years God has begun to re-shape my understanding of beauty in relation to how I view myself which I am so grateful for.

  18. I honestly don’t know where my standard of beauty comes from. I had a mom who wore very little makeup growing up and only does now because it’s required for her job (flight attendant). Sure, I painted my nails here and there but for the most part, I’m a tomboy and have always been into sports so pretty nails, nice hair, and makeup that’s just going to run into my eyes have never been on my radar. I still don’t know how to do my own makeup. ๐Ÿ™‚ I do think that a large part of my standard of beauty is set by what my husband finds beautiful. For him, that means a little mascara and hair not in a ponytail every day. And I’m happy with that. Sure, I like to get “dolled up” for special occasions but otherwise I have been pretty comfortable in my own skin. I actually remember asking my friend who did my makeup on our wedding day to not put any foundation or powder on me because it would hide my freckles. And I just don’t look like myself without them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. I’ve been wanting to read this book- Carolyn Mahaney is one of my favorite authors ๐Ÿ™‚ Sounds like a wonderful read!

    1. Congratulations, Libby! picked your comment as the winner. Watch for an email to claim your copy.

  20. Wow! This looks great! It is definitely a sore subject for women, myself included.

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