How is the beauty of a girl described?

'I am beautiful in your eyes' - From God's gaze on people - A teaching unit for the vocational school

by Hanna Dallmeier


About the background of the lesson

This teaching unit was created as part of the religious pedagogy exam in the second theological exam. The vocational school class with which I pursued the topic of "beauty" came from the field of "textile technology": a pure girls 'or women' s class, very different in terms of age (15 to 20 years), origins (several girls from ethnic German repatriate families, some Muslim women), fluency in the German language, career aspiration. Quite a few of the girls look back on a life with multiple breaks. Around a third attend the class to catch up on their secondary school leaving certificate.

The topic of "beauty" did not initially meet with undivided approval. However, the deeper we delved into the topic and the more personal the access and identification options became, the more it preoccupied the girls. They went along the way from the description and questioning of ideals of beauty to the consideration of one's own external and internal beauty to the question of what significance the topic of beauty has for our relationships, whether it has a destructive or healing effect.

The theologian takes the relationship between God and man into account (in the teaching situation, however, this was not explicitly referred to). To anticipate it at this point: The theological focus of the unit is on the doctrine of justification, its concerns in a aesthetic twist is recorded: The "awarded justice" corresponds to the "awarded beauty" (which is presented as a "Christian model of beauty" in the context of teaching in Protestant religion, so to speak). Both owe it to that loving look someone else's on me. The teaching unit aims to track down this point of view ...


The biblical evidence

There is no text in the Bible that explicitly connects God's loving view of man with the topic of "beauty" 1. This has to do with the biblical, "relational" understanding of beauty, which has no abstract term for beauty in the aesthetic sense. "Beauty" is therefore not a quality with that of Godrelationship could be described. Nevertheless, the Bible knows a number of texts that contribute in one way or another to the subject:

  1. Texts that know about the side of beauty that is threatening for women: Gen 12: 10-20 (Abram denies the "very beautiful" Sarai in order to protect himself); II Sam 11 (David takes the "very good looking" Bathsheba); II Sam 13 (the "beautiful" Tamar is raped by her brother).
  2. Texts that use "beauty" as a motif that is irrelevant as a prerequisite for the relationship with God: e.g. I Sam 16: 1-13: In the election and anointing of David, it is not the appearance and form that matters, but that, what YHWH can "see" in his heart (v.7). At the same time, David is described as a young man "with beautiful eyes and of good shape" (v.12) - a concession to the human eye and an idea that specifically combines male beauty with political power.
  3. Texts in which the relationship to God established by the act of creation is qualified by statements that come close to the idea of ​​beauty: In Gen 1:31, God recognizes his work on the sixth day, i.e. the day of human creation, as tov meod (very good). The Septuagint translates here as kalà lían (very beautiful). Tov or kalós do not mean beauty in an aesthetic sense, but the "practicality of the work". The human creation in Ps 139,14 is qualified with words from the root fala, which emphasize the wonderful in the sense of the difficult to understand.
  4. Texts which, with their theme "Beauty in the eyes of the other", have been interpreted in terms of the relationship between God and man: This is where the Song of Songs should be mentioned. It knows an abundance of images for the beauty of the loved one, but they do not describe the shape and appearance of the person opposite, but the effect that comes from the person opposite. "Ultimately, then, it is not the individual person that is beautiful, but the relationship between two or more people. The ideal of beauty is not a body, but a relationship ideal." 2 This ideal of beauty was subsequently transferred to the relationship between YHWH and his people: the allegorical interpretation sees "in the radiant Beloved YHWH and in the beloved Israel" 3. An individualistic continuation of this collective oath of love then suggests the statement: "In your eyes, God, I am beautiful."
  5. Texts that use ugliness or physical inadequacy / frailty to describe the undeserved grace of God: Paul applies the Sermon on the Cross from I Cor 1: 18-25 in II Cor to his person: Like "in the cross ... a radical reevaluation of the human scale of values ​​( takes place) "4, so the cross of Christ5 is evident in Paul's personal existence, but also the transforming power of God. The top sentence can be found in II Cor 12.9: "Let my grace suffice for you, for my strength is mighty in the weak." (According to Luther. The literal translation is: "... for strength comes to perfection in weakness.")
  6. A text in which the loving-transforming gaze of the father (God?) On his son is followed by the concrete transformation from "ugly" to "beautiful": The parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15: 11-32) lets the father tear him off Embrace the son returning from a foreign country (v.20) and then bring him a new robe and a ring (v.22): God's look (and action) makes the loved one beautiful.


Systematic-theological considerations

The history of theology6 has so far had a hard time with human beauty: beauty is either an attribute that belongs to God, especially since Clement of Alexandria, of the second person of the Trinity, the son. Or the term "beauty" is differentiated and the individual aspects are subjected to a different evaluation: spiritual beauty is considered the best, physical as the lowest form of beauty; with Augustine earthly beauty can even become a trap and thus bring people dangerously close to sin. On the Protestant side, a systematic-theological discussion about the locus of the beautiful is largely missing.

Based on my biblical findings, I will now try a systematic-theological bundling:


1. Beauty in relationships between people - reference to God

In the Bible, beauty is a relationship concept: Beauty arises in the eyes of the other. The Bible differentiates between different relationships between people:

  1. The relationship describes a power imbalance: Here, beauty can become threatening and destructive for women, and beauty is criticized as an expression of male power: you is it Notthat brings about relationship with God [Texts (1) and (2)].
  2. The relationship is based on a mutual relationship: He who is loved is beautiful [Texts (4)]. Such a mutual relationship can be understood as transparent towards God: This is how Martin Buber's philosophy of dialogue explains the relationship to God as an extension of the line between "I and you" towards the "eternal you" 7. Elisabeth Stuart sees relationships of passionate friendship as a "place of experience of God and a model of God relationship" .8 Beauty does not arise out of itself, but "beauty comes erotically over us" 9 - in the encounter, unavailable.


2. Beauty from God? God's creative action is relational action

The biblical statements of creation [Texts (3)] justify Not the beauty of man. But by God creating man, God creates a relationship with him, which is expressed in the talk of being in the image of God, in God's blessing for man and in the statement that man is made wonderful. "God (...) is the basis of every relationship." 10 If "beauty-in-relationship" is transparent to God, the reverse conclusion can also be ventured that God's creative relationship with humans makes them beautiful.


3. Justification for beauty: God's transforming gaze

Weakness, inadequacy, ugliness can be transformed by God [Texts (5) and (6)]. Especially in the fragmentary there is room for God's work - because here man understands his "dependence on perfection" 11. Understanding myself as perfect, on the other hand, closes me off: from God and from people. Because the perfect no longer expects a transformation that occurs in encounter with the other. Above all, however, the attempt to want to be perfect out of oneself - in our context: beautiful - leads to a form of fairness to work: the ideal of beauty is not attainable (or only at the cost of self-denial and self-destruction, e.g. through anorexia). Only an unconditionally loving look from the outside can save and transform. Because beauty in the eyes of the other shows me: I am more and different than I can achieve on the beauty market. - That is the Christian hope: that there is such a loving, transforming, justifying gaze of God on us.



The concept of "beauty" needs a theological differentiation, which in my opinion is not adequately met with the categories of "spiritual" and "physical" beauty. Instead, I create a distinction based on the structure of the doctrine of justification:

Destructive is an understanding of beauty that refers to the pure fulfillment of an external one Ideals of beauty is aligned with the aim of getting the love of other people quasi force to want. (The advertising constantly suggests that someone is loved who is beautiful.) The ideas of (external) beauty are, on the one hand, historically and culturally conditioned and therefore relative; on the other hand, there is no guarantee, no point at which I am beautiful enough to be sure of the love of others. Beauty is no more feasible than a healthy, just relationship with God Healing is an understanding of beauty that awarded will: You are one relationship basically, the loving gaze of one person on another. This beauty is not feasible, remains unavailable and can only be accepted. But then it unfolds the liberating potential, which theologically in "justification sola gratia"is justified: Love liberates you to beauty, be it the loving gaze of God or that of a person (which in my opinion cannot be separated theologically).


The ambivalence of "beauty" for women: female identity formation and feminist-religious-pedagogical conclusions

Social beauty norms continue to play an important role13, especially for the development of female identity14. Girls get into a dilemma: On the one hand, their body becomes "the central place of self-experience in adolescence, physical attractiveness becomes an important element of self-confidence, but at the same time precisely this aspect of identity is particularly unstable and prone to insecurities and disturbances" - which inevitably occur because the "socially prescribed ideal of beauty is in principle unattainable" 15. These insecurities hit girls with a lower level of school education (and therefore limited professional prospects) particularly, as they are less able to feed their self-image through skills and perspectives and are therefore dependent on investing in their bodies as their capital.

The development of female identity in adolescence is also shaped by the "overcoming of relationships and attachment crises" 16. The own voice and the voice from outside come into conflict, so that the former threatens to be lost (or split off and kept out of relationships in order to protect it). With regard to the ideal of beauty penetrating girls from outside, from the "adult world", this means: I cannot achieve what is beautiful. My bond with myself - finding myself beautiful - threatens to be lost. When it comes to the question of their own beauty, the longing for relationships, to be loved, to be accepted and to love oneself intensifies for young women at the same time.

Feminist religious educators conclude from these findings that the attachment crisis should be absorbed and absorbed in order to support the identity development of young women. This takes place in "a relationship that picks up your voice", by providing a resonance space for your search for a "relationship with yourself, with others and with the world" 17. Particularly when it comes to the subject of beauty, particular sensitivity is required because the "voices from the outside" are so strong here.


The structure of the lesson

First of all: This draft describes the examination hour (6th hour) in detail, but the remaining teaching hours should be presented in such a way that they can be understood.

The teaching unit consists of eight hours, some of which were held as double hours. In the first three lessons, the focus is on empirical reality and the everyday context of the students. The focus here is on viewing and describing images.


1 hour
The pupils develop characteristics of ideals of beauty in the course of time by analyzing a picture of "beautiful people" from different epochs (e.g. Greek or Roman antiquity, Rubens women, Twiggy ...) and naming characteristics of the ideal of beauty in partner or group work. In this way they learn that what is perceived as "beautiful" is historical. At the same time they try [M1] with the help of the school grades known to them to "evaluate the beauty" of the respective ideals (at the end of the lesson, presentation of the group work and discussion of the "grading").

 2nd / 3rd hour
With the help of a worksheet [M2] we bundle the results of the last lesson: The "beauty ideals" arranged on a timeline from the previous lesson are once again assigned the characteristics found in order to create an overview of the changeability of the concept of beauty. The next step is to describe and name the contemporary Concepts of beauty and current ideals of beauty (brainstorming on the board: keyword "beauty today"). The students should also reflect on their own position on the socially prevailing ideal of beauty.

In the second half of the double lesson, I suggest a mirror exercise: A hand mirror is passed around twice in the circle of seats, each with a question / task: 1st round: "I think it's nice about myself that ..."; 2nd round: "Mirror, mirror, tell me in good time: What are my best sides?" Each student should look in the mirror and complete or answer the sentences; It is important that everyone listens and that the statements are not commented on. This opens up a "resonance space" for the soft and loud voices of the pupils. 18

The following lessons turn to the topic of "beauty" on a deeper, also theologically justified level. The theological topoi "sin / entanglement", "justification" and "resurrection" correlate to the three parts of the lesson.

 4th / 5th Hour (sin / entanglement)
At the beginning, the pupils write themselves a postcard with the words "Good morning, you beautiful", which is sent to them about two months later - a method to strengthen the "relationship with oneself", one's own voice.

On the basis of the song "Sophie" by Eleanor McEvoy (playing the song; OH slide and worksheet with lyrics and translation [M3]), the story of an anorexic Sophie is then worked out, who hungers for love and breaks her ideal of beauty. This is reflected in their history structure the "work righteousness" in the blind pursuit of an unattainable ideal of beauty.The underlying understanding of beauty can be paraphrased with the term "emulating beauty". The students work on this structure and name the destructive consequences for people who are trapped in themselves and who lose their ability to relate.

6th hour (justification)
This lesson is closely related to the previous lesson in terms of content, theological and didactic aspects. Their results are therefore recorded again at the beginning (in tabular form on the blackboard).

The aim of the lesson is to develop a - theologically speaking, "justifying" - healing counter-model: the model of "attributed beauty" and its liberating dimension. This is the aim of telling the fairy tale "The most beautiful woman in the whole world", which enables a change of perspective on the subject of "beauty": It takes the listener into the loving gaze of a boy on his mother who does not correspond to the social ideal of beauty. The results are compared with the previous results in a table on the blackboard.

Finally, the gaze is turned once more to the figure of identification Sophie: Can she too experience "justification" - that is, love without "achieved" beauty?

7/8 Hour (resurrection)
The final lesson deepens the healing and vitalising aspect of the understanding of "awarded beauty" developed in the previous lesson: The students analyze the film "Antonia in Wonderland. The models from the nursing ward". It is about old, sick people who find courage to live again by being "made beautiful". (One student summarized the film's statement as follows: "Before they were sick and sad - afterwards they had found life again!")


Understand beauty as the fulfillment of an ideal of beauty

Russian fairy tale:
Describes beauty as something that is attributed to me.

What is beauty?

Who is slim is beautiful.

There is no particular external characteristic

How do being beautiful and being loved relate to one another?

Sophie wants to be beautiful because she wants to be loved.

Because the boy loves his mother, she is beautiful in his eyes

How does this beauty come about?

Sophie runs after her (the) ideal of beauty. She wants to make the beauty herself

In the eyes of someone who loves me This beauty can only be awarded - it cannot be made!

What are the consequences?

Sophie gets sick / breaks down

If someone calls me beautiful because he / she loves me, that makes me free / happy / safe / beautiful.


The 6th hour
Presentation and explanation of the media

[M3] The overhead film shows the picture of a young woman in half profile19, who sits with folded arms and looks at the viewer at an angle, slightly from below. Her look is questioning, fragile, serious, but not hopeless. The picture conveys something of the fragile situation in which "Sophie", the song's protagonist, finds herself.

The planned blackboard was developed by me as an aid to structuring the teaching results. It should be created on the inside of the board over the course of the hour - the central location for the central results. The left table column (questions) and the middle column (about Sophie) are worked out at the beginning, the right column (fairy tale) after the fairy tale (see below [M4]). I value linguistic precision, but do not require that my formulations be worked out verbatim. The table rows trace the logic of the two models: Description of the characteristics of the respective understanding of beauty - the causal relationship between beauty and love - (abstract level :) the context of development - the consequences. The board is used to develop this table because it can be opened and closed so that the part of Sophie that has already been worked out can "disappear". With a set of impulses on the outside of the closed board ("In your eyes I am beautiful") the "counter model" now to be worked out announces itself.

[M4] I know the Russian fairy tale "The most beautiful woman in the whole world" from Sesame Street - it has already become part of my family tradition and touches me deeply. Fairy tales have to be told. Only at the end of the lesson do the students receive a written version for their portfolio. The fairy tale takes place in Russia - the birthplace of six of the 15 schoolgirls. With them, this remark will certainly attract special attention and strengthen the identification. Fairy tales are reminiscent of childhood, convey a feeling of security and an ideal world. The village scene is also reminiscent of "the good old days". These characteristics make the character of the story told in the fairy tale very different from that which the girls associate with the story of Sophie: The song is set in the present, has a modern melody and describes a rough, very topical reality. There is nothing that creates distance or softens reality. The medium of the fairy tale therefore contrasts with the medium of the song in the previous lesson.

[M5] The worksheet for saving results contains a prepared table for [M2]. This gives the pupils a boost to motivate them to copy.

The images and image details are repeated as a common thread: the eyes of "Sophie" correspond to the eyes of the old woman (Dürer's mother20). Basically, the following can be said about the use of images in this lesson: The subject of "beauty" almost calls for visual examination. In the previous hours there was a lot of work with images. In the exam lesson, "inner" images should be created.


Planned course of the lesson


Before the start of the lesson
The classroom is being prepared: the blackboard is wiped if necessary, on the right outer wing I note the sentence "I am beautiful in your eyes" so that it only has to be "conjured up" as a "silent impulse" over the course of the lesson. The OHP with the OH slide is prepared, chalk laid out.

The greeting "Good morning, your beautiful" ties in with the postcard campaign in the previous lesson and is intended to ease the anticipated test-related tension among the students at the same time.

With the help of the picture for "Sophie" I support the students' memories of the previous lesson: It served to illustrate the lyrics of the song and is therefore known to them. They also encounter the picture from the same place as in the previous lesson: from the OHP (only this time without lyrics). In this way, the students will probably be able to quickly build on the results of the previous lesson and quickly bundle them in a guided conversation. The results are recorded on the board. In order not to give this repetition step more space than necessary, I will intervene in a relatively strong structuring manner. Abstract speaking is difficult for some students because of the language barrier. So I will try to motivate them in particular. The phase ends with me switching off the OHP and closing the board: "Sophie" disappears, the impulse for the next phase emerges.

New entry
The silent impulse "I am beautiful in your eyes" comes into the eyes of the students. After the phase of the possibly heavily directed conversation, the pupils should now have the opportunity to freely associate. If the conversation comes to a standstill prematurely, I will give further impulses in the form of comments or questions. Based on previous experiences with the pupils who are eager to discuss, it is more likely that the conversation will have to be interrupted / broken off after a while in order to move on to the next phase.

Elaboration (in two phases)
The development phases are initiated by leaving my place in front of the blackboard and sitting in front of the teacher's table. As a result, I almost create something like a circle of seats, since the students' tables are arranged in a U-shape. The fairy tale should be told and analyzed in this somewhat more intimate social form. For two reasons I decide against the alternative of having a real circle of seats built in the center of the classroom (as the students know from the "mirror exercise"): On the one hand, this would create too much unrest (the lesson already contains enough media changes - there would be such a change of social form act like an overload); on the other hand, I have to protect myself from too much intimacy in the narrative situation, because the fairy tale itself touches me so strongly ...

Fairy tales want to be told. The method of storytelling is reminiscent of the biblical stories and the fact that Christianity sees itself as a narrative community. Storytelling is community-building21 and creates inner images.

These inner images can be used in the course of the subsequent conversation. Again, the pupils should first have space for their own reactions. If the conversation doesn't progress, I give impulses. But I expect a lively participation (again). As a transition to the consolidation phase, I refer back to the impulse sentence on the blackboard.

The board serves me as a medium for securing results. Now it is opened again - the table that has been started can be continued. Depending on how far and deep the previous conversations took us, the students can now continue the table with more or less guidance on my part. Filling out the table is partly a transmission service. Therefore, the weaker students are to be included again in a motivating way. The task of finding headings for the table columns could be a particular challenge for the students. If the advanced time demands it, I will bring in the headings I have formulated myself in order to mark the transition to the final transfer phase by changing location (from the board to the OHP).

By switching on the OHP again with the picture for "Sophie", the students' attention is drawn once more to the topic of the beginning of the lesson at the end. What does our result mean for someone who is in Sophie's situation? At the end, the fairy tale is handed out.


Securing results

Due to the shortness of the time, it will no longer be possible to save the results during the lesson, although it makes sense didactically to save the results. Therefore, the pupils get the order from me (before they say goodbye - see the previous phase) to copy the table from the blackboard after the examination hour. For this you will receive a ready-made worksheet together with the fairy tale sheet. That increases motivation.

If I did not have this possibility of "excess time", I would bring the table in at the beginning of the next lesson and use it to repeat the results of the examination lesson with the students.


M 1



Subject: Religion


Subject: Beauty


... Who's the fairest of them all?


- image viewing -




Work on the following tasks with a partner!

1. Describe the woman in the picture: her appearance, her posture, her clothes ...


2. Describes the ideal of beauty that may be behind it; tries to name beauty features of the woman.


3. You are allowed to rate the beauty of this woman: What school grade (from 1-6) would you give her? Justify your decision!

Grade: ____



M 3





Subject: Religion


Subject: Beauty

Eleanor McEvoy: Sophie

Sophie cannot finish her dinner,
she says she’s eating enough.
Sophie’s trying to make herself thinner,
says she’s eating too much.
And her brother says, "You're joking",
and her mother’s heart is broken.
Sophie has a hard time coping,
and, besides, Sophie’s hoping ...

... she can be like all the other girls,
be just like all the other girls,
living in an ordinary world,
just to fit in, in the ordinary world,
just to fit in like an ordinary girl.

Sophie’s losing weight by the minute.
How did things get this bad?
Sophie’s family, they don’t understand it,
gave her all that they had.
And her sister won’t stop crying,
‘Cause her father says she’s dying.
Sophie says she’s really trying -
problem is: Sophie’s lying,

... she can be like all the other girls ...

How did she get this way?
How did she get this way?
Through trying to hide it.
What does it take to say,
What does it take to say:
She’s dying. Sophie’s dying ...

Sophie can't finish her meal
she says she eats enough.
Sophie tries to make herself thinner
says she eats too much.
And her brother says: "You're kidding"
And her mother is heartbroken.
Sophie is having a hard time enduring
and, besides, Sophie hopes ...



... she could be like all the other girls
just be like all the other girls
live in an ordinary world
just belong to the ordinary world,
just part of it like an ordinary girl.

Sophie loses weight minute by minute
how could things get so bad?
Sophie's family - they can't understand
they gave her everything they had.
And her sister doesn't stop crying
because her father says she is going to die.
Sophie says she's really trying -
the problem is: Sophie is lying,

... she could be like all the other girls ...

How did it come to this with her?
How did it come to this with her?
By trying to hide it.
What does it cost to say
What does it cost to say:
She dies. Sophie would die ...

... to be like all the other girls ...


M 4





Subject: Religion


Subject: Beauty



The most beautiful woman in the whole world


Fairy tales from Russia


Once upon a time there was a little boy who lived in a small village in Russia. One day the boy was walking excitedly through the village. He cried and kept calling for his mother, but he couldn't find her anywhere.

As he wept, the people who worked in the fields near the village heard him. They thought something bad must have happened that made the boy cry so bitterly.
So people rushed up and asked the boy, "Boy, why are you crying?"
"I can't find my mother!" he said and started crying again.
Then someone asked: "Yes, but what does she look like, your mother?"
"It's very simple," said the boy. "My mother is the most beautiful woman in the whole world!"

The people from the village were relieved: it couldn't be that difficult. And immediately someone exclaimed: "Katja is the most beautiful woman in the village! Let's get Katja!" And they got Katja and brought her to the boy. But he just shook his head sadly: "This is not my mother. My mother is much, much more beautiful."
Then the people from the village put their heads together again and thought further. Then someone said: "Jeljenka from the neighboring village, she is the most beautiful woman far and wide!" And quickly they ran to get Jeljenka and brought her to the boy. But he shook his head and started to cry again: "No. That is not my mother! My mother is much, much more beautiful! I already told you that she is the most beautiful woman in the whole world!"
The people from the village shrugged their shoulders helplessly. But the boy was so sad and cried so much that they thought again. And yes, right! Madjuschka from the village behind the forest, she was really beautiful. Only she could actually be the boy's mother. And Madjuschka was fetched and brought to the boy ... but again he said: "No, no, no! This is not my mother! My mother is a thousand times more beautiful! I told you all along: My mother. .. "
"... is the most beautiful woman in the whole world!" added the people from the village.

Now good advice was expensive. And while they were still talking, a small, wizened woman came along. She looked tired and desperate. And she walked hunched over, as if she had been looking for something in vain all day.
When the little boy saw her, he called: "Mom!"
"My boy!" Said the woman and put her arms around him.

The people from the village turned around in amazement and asked: "How, is that your mother? We thought your mother was the most beautiful woman in the whole world!"
"But it is!" called the boy. "See for yourself: my mother is the most beautiful woman in the whole world!"


M 5





Subject: Religion


Subject: Beauty


Understanding beauty


- Two models -





Russian fairy tale

What is beauty?



How do being beautiful and being loved relate to one another?



How does this beauty come about?



What are the consequences?





  1. I use this double term here, because all considerations about the lesson can never only be about a philosophical, quasi-objective term of "beauty", but rather that both I as the teacher and probably the students keep the topic of "beauty" on themselves, relate to one's own beauty.
  2. Silvia Schroer / Thomas Staubli, Die Körperymbolik der Bibel, Darmstadt 1998, pp. (27-) 29.
  3. Such a possible interpretation - see on this and on the historical background of the allegory, Othmar Keel, Das Hohelied. With 168 illustrations, ZBK.AT 18, Zurich 21992, p. 15f.
  4. Jürgen Roloff, Introduction to the New Testament, Stuttgart 1995, p. 113.
  5. "he is weak, his speech pathetic", cf. II Cor 10:10; Gal 4,13f et al.
  6. For the initial considerations, cf. the remarks by Patrick J. Sherry, Art. Beauty II. Christian-Trinitarian, in: TRE Vol. XXX, Berlin / New York 1999, p. 240f and Matthias Zeindler, Art. Beauty III. Practical-theological, in: TRE Vol. XXX, Berlin / New York 1999, p. 247.
  7. Martin Buber, Me and You, Heidelberg 101979.
  8. Elisabeth Hartlieb, friendship in the theology of Elisabeth Stuart, in: Barbara Wündisch et al. (Ed.), My God - she loves me. Lesbian-feminist contributions to biblical theology, Knesebeck 1999, p. 170. The fact that God encounters precisely in one's neighbor can also be justified christologically: cf. Mt 25: 31-46.
  9. Uwe Gerber, On the beauty of the world and its God. Beauty: specification - construct - simulation? In: BRU Heft 37, 2002, p. 6.
  10. Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology I, Berlin / New York 81984, p. 311.
  11. Henning Luther, Identity and Fragment, in: Ders., Religion and Everyday Life. Building blocks for a practical theology of the subject, Stuttgart 1992, p. 173, see pp. 169-172.
  12. The structure behind this understanding of beauty is the same as that in Luther's desperate question: "How do I get a gracious God?" The person who is fixated on an external ideal of beauty corresponds to the "homo incurvatus in se ipsum".
  13. Regina Ammicht Quinn, Body - Religion - Sexuality, shows that the topic of "beauty" only became relevant for the identity of women at the turn of the 19th century. Theological reflections on the ethics of the sexes, Mainz 22000, p. 86f.
  14. In the following I am based on the remarks by Karin Flaake, "First of all, great! Now I'm finally a woman. But now it's getting on my nerves!" - Female adolescence, physicality and development opportunities for girls, in: Sybille Becker / Ilona Nord (eds.), Religious Socialization of Girls and Women, Stuttgart / Berlin / Cologne 1995, p. 29ff.
  15. Quotations see ibid., P. 30.
  16. The result of research by Carol Gilligan is that in female adolescence it is not the development of autonomy and individuation that is in the foreground, but a crisis of attachment, the balancing of one's own voice with the "other" voice. See Annabelle Pithan, Hearing the voices of girls and making them heard. Gender-specific socialization in the religious book, in: Sybille Becker / Ilona Nord (ed.), Religious socialization of girls and women, Stuttgart / Berlin / Cologne 1995, especially pp. 36-40.
  17. Both quotations ibid., P. 40. Such a resonance space presupposes equal communication (cf. ibid., 39), which, however, occurs in the school area (and even less under the conditions of an examination lesson in which the students feel "also examined") ) is structurally not possible - an approach should nevertheless be attempted!
  18. Offering a "resonance space", i.e. a relationship that takes up the voice of young women, is what feminist religious educators consider to be a helpful means to counter the crisis of attachment (to oneself and to the world) that occurs in girls during adolescence. (Cf. Annabelle Pithan, Voices, esp. Pp. 36-40.) After this mirror exercise was carried out, I can speak of an impressive result: The students not only responded well to the task, they also asked for a "third round" , in which they were allowed to say "beautiful things" about each other and to each other - thereby even expanding the "resonance space" offered to them!
  19. It is the singer of the song "Sophie", Eleanor McEvoy.
  20. Klaus Staeck, Mutter, p. 335. The picture "Dürer's mother" illustrates the fairy tale in a special way. On the one hand, Albrecht Dürer depicted his mother realistically, but with loving eyes, and on the other hand, the artist Klaus Staeck works with a similar change of perspective as the fairy tale in his poster campaign.
  21. Christiane Müller, storytelling, in: Iris Bosold / Peter Kliemann (eds.), "Oh, you teach religion?" Methods, tips and trends, Stuttgart 2003, p. 169ff.



  • Athalya Brenner, When does gender make the difference? Beauty in the Hebrew Bible, in: Oh, how beautiful! Body images and aesthetics. Brood of snakes 78 (2002), 15-19.

  • Christl Maier, Relationships. Body concept and image of God in Ps 139, in: Hedwig-Jahnow research project (ed.), Body concepts in the First Testament. Aspects of a Feminist Anthropology, Stuttgart 2003, 172-188.

  • Karl-Theo Siebel et al. (Ed.), Subject: beautiful ugly. BRU. Magazine for religious education in vocational schools, issue 37, 2002.


Image sources

  • Pictures of "Ideals of Beauty through the Ages", picture material from DAK Hamburg, project ideas for the school: "Verflixte Schönheit", undated.

  • Postcard No. 103: "Good morning you beautiful", Annanym Photodesign, Im Krummen Arm 1, 28203 Bremen

  • Image for "Sophie":

  • Staeck, Klaus, Dürer's mother,

  • Poster campaign, (c) VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2004



  • "Antonia in Wonderland. The models from the care station", a film by Beate F. Neumann, AVE Gesellschaft für Fernsehproduktion GmbH, Schützenstrasse 18, 10117 Berlin (Tel .: 030-20267-0)

Text published in Loccumer Pelikan 2/2004