I’m gonna be honest… I love hearing that I look pretty when I dress up, and I don’t know a single girl or woman who doesn’t like to be complimented that way. Everyone likes to feel beautiful, and even more than that, they like hearing it. We all like being validated, and that definitely includes our looks. Muslim women are no exception. If you dressed your best for a night out, and looked in the mirror and thought, “Dang, I look good,” but nobody complimented you the whole evening, you would probably be disappointed and maybe even question whether you look as good as you’d thought.
This is generally stronger in women than in men, which can easily be seen in most social interactions. While greeting each other, women usually compliment one another on their clothes, makeup, shoes, etc. Imagine seeing a small group of men catching up with each other and saying, “Wow, I love your outfit!” or “That’s definitely your color,” and other compliments like those, to each person. It would seem weird, because we’re not used to it. But women compliment each other like this, because we understand the desire to be told we look attractive, and how much time and effort we put into our appearances compared to most men.
This natural desire of women to be praised for their appearances, combined with the fact that societal standards of female beauty going up to nearly unattainable levels, can make us feel insecure or less confident at times. There are many women who even question whether they’re beautiful at all, or doubt that they are, even after allowing the media to dictate how they dress and style themselves from head to toe.
This natural desire of women to be praised for their appearances, combined with the fact that societal standards of female beauty going up to nearly unattainable levels, can make us feel insecure or less confident at times.
I’m not going to tell you that cliche statement, “You’re beautiful on the inside,” because that’s implying that you might not be beautiful on the outside. And that’s an injustice to you, because Allah states otherwise — as a fact.
“Tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their private parts, and to not expose their beauty except what’s obvious of it, and to throw their headscarves over their chests…” (24:31)
Allah (swt) doesn’t say, “and to not expose their beauty if they’re beautiful. He’s telling it like it is: you are so beautiful that no matter what you do, you won’t be able to hide it completely. There will always be someone who sees you and finds at least some part of you attractive, even if you cover almost everything up as best as you can. And to doubt your beauty is to doubt the Truth of His speech.
But what Allah is telling us, which we don’t seem to understand on our own, is that we shouldn’t try to show off our assets or subconsciously fish for compliments, because there’s no need to; at the most, it’s only going to reaffirm what we’ve already been told ourselves, but more likely, it will make us feel insecure if we use the inconsistent and often insincere praise of others to determine our level of confidence. He’s advising us based on our nature, which He (swt) knows better than we do- and we know this about ourselves too, even if we don’t like to admit it.
We are told to cover ourselves for the One who truly appreciates our beauty — the One who gifted us with it in the first place. And if we realize that and follow it, although we will obviously still like getting complimented for our looks, we will stop needing or expecting compliments and validation from others. Because the One who created us and knows everything already recognized us for what we are. We no longer need or depend on society’s unreliable affirmation, or believe its deceptive declaration that unless you look like “this”, you’re not quite there yet.
We are told to cover ourselves for the One who truly appreciates our beauty- the One who gifted us with it in the first place.
The Prophet (saws) said, “Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty.” [Sahih Muslim]
He (swt) loves how you look, so why shouldn’t you?
“Isn’t Allah enough for His servant?” (39:36)