Physical Beauty

Posted on March 10, 2011 by Amy Tolmie
Categories: Secondary, 16-19s,

The Story

Many people believe that Cheryl Cole is very beautiful, but maintaining that loveliness isn’t cheap. Those designer clothes, bags and shoes cost a fortune.

Then there’s the money spent on glossy make-up, hair extensions, fake tan and gleaming teeth. And that’s before you add in the trips abroad, her staff and Cheryl’s smoking habit. Add it all up and it’s £377,010 a year – over £1,000 a day – to keep her looking like she’s got the X Factor.

Did you know that for some people physical beauty is so important that it becomes the benchmark and litmus test for the value of life itself?

Consider how this mindset shaped and guided the life of Marie Stopes.

Marie Stopes (1880-1958) is most famous for promoting birth control and family planning. She was a committed believer in ‘eugenics’ which, simply put, is the belief that we can ‘breed’ better human beings. This belief deeply affected her life and in particular her use of money. She cut her son Harry out of her will for marrying a shortsighted woman called Mary Barnes Wallis.

About this she wrote:

"She has an inherited disease of the eyes which not only makes her wear hideous glasses so that it is horrid to look at her, but the awful curse will carry on and I have the horror of our line being so contaminated and little children with the misery of glasses ... Mary and Harry are quite callous about both the wrong to their children, the wrong to my family and the eugenic crime."

For Stopes only beautiful people like Cheryl Cole should be allowed to ‘breed’! In her view, ‘Ugly’ people should not be allowed to have children!

Significance of the Story

How exactly do we measure the value of human life? In last month’s story we encountered Colombian hit men who value people in terms of wealth and prosperity. ‘Poor’ children are disposable and can be killed. There are many variations on this theme. Nazis argue that a person’s value is intimately connected to race. Other people contend that it is intelligence that bestows value on a person. In all these views many people are worthless because they lack an essential ingredient – be it beauty, wealth, favoured race or intelligence. How should we respond to these views?

Application in schools

THEMES: Sanctity of life / Human worth / Eugenics / Image of God

CONTEXT: Sanctity of life lesson / RE lesson on eugenics/ Assembly on celebrity culture and its hidden values


  1. Do celebrities like Cheryl Cole influence our values and lifestyles?
  2. In you opinion is she spending enough money on her personal appearance?
  3. Do you agree with Marie Stopes that we should be breeding ‘beautiful’ people?
  4. What is eugenics?
  5. Do you agree with eugenics?
  6. Why did Nazis approve of eugenics?
  7. What is Biblical teaching about human worth? (Look at Genesis 1:27-28 & Luke 12:6-7.)