But does it have to be? That really depends on your definition of beauty.
I have an account with a coupon company, and they send me discounts to various things. Almost everyday, without fail, something for hair extentions, teeth whitening, weight loss programs, etc. comes through my email. Almost everyday, without fail, I start questioning my appearance. I look down and wonder if I should lose more weight. I smile in the mirror and wonder if my smile is unlovable because of my teeth. I brush through my hair and wonder if it would be more beautiful if it was longer.
That's exactly what those companies want you to do. They want you start questioning the way you are. If you didn't, you wouldn't need them, and they would be out of business.
So yes, outward beauty can be painful, if you allow it to be. Or it can be completely pain free. Instead of allowing those companies and society's definition of beauty to have that much control over you, you can make the choice to realize you're beautiful without the pain. You're beautiful exactly how God made you.
But then there's true beauty. You can look all around and see gorgeous people walking down the street everyday. But are they truly gorgeous?
Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
1 Peter 3:4
Before I go further, notice the word 'merely'. I know of too many people who take this verse to the extreme and believe it's saying NO outward adornment. No jewelry, no makeup, etc. But it's not. It's simply saying, beauty is not outward. True beauty is inward. We should not rely on our outward appearance for beauty. It should be our heart.
True beauty comes from within. It comes from knowing and accepting who you are in Christ. Knowing in your heart, not just your head, that you are beautiful inwardly because you are His beloved and He has created you.
But true beauty also comes from experience. From being molded and formed into the person He wants you to be. That beauty is painful. Being chiseled and cut can feel like death. But that pain and that cutting away of ourselves is beautiful. It's love at one of it's very deepest levels.
I posted this quote a bit ago, but I think it sums most of this up:
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."
-Elisabeth Kubler Ross