When I was 10, I didn’t have a care in the world. My friends were great, my family was great. I was content with my life, including how I looked. (Although I was a little concerned about bras and this weird word “puberty” my mother had started referencing around me.)
Then came middle school.
The next few years were a period of turmoil and confusion. I found myself thinking, maybe I need to be someone else. Maybe I am not enough. These thoughts influenced not only my self-image, but especially my body image.
Feeling the Pressure
In the locker room, I heard girls commenting on their developing bodies. It made me feel self-conscious about my own. I wondered if I was dumb for thinking my body looked good the way it was.
As they talked about weight, I felt I was too large. I was tall, lanky, and had big hips comparatively. I felt … awkward.
Once, I asked a classmate if she thought my stomach was big. She told me, “Yeah, you have a bit of a stomach.” I was crushed. I thought I had to look like her to be liked by her, which may have been true. Her comment made me want to transform myself to become more attractive and less “flabby.”
In high school, I played sports, straightened my hair every morning, wore makeup each day, became pickier about clothing, and stopped drinking soda. Don’t get me wrong, these changes weren’t bad in and of themselves. The fact that I felt like I needed to change was the problem.
Yet the comments continued to come. In my sophomore year, a girl congratulated me on how skinny and tall I was, saying, “You could be a model!” While she meant well, I felt awkward. She often talked about wanting to lose weight herself. Comments and mindsets like that made me feel like I should stay skinny or else I would not be as beautiful as before.
In our quest for beauty, we women find ourselves surrounded by comments and pictures that are very effective at wounding us over and over.
Society targets women’s appearance in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Magazine covers, movies, and runway models remind us of our so-called “flaws.” Booking agents, editors, directors, and those in other hiring roles pick women with specific figures, use Photoshop to take away or add, portray thin women with high cheekbones and toned features as the ones receiving men’s attention, and embellish them with all sorts of cosmetic products.
Even those secluded from media influences find that negative body talk still easily pervades our lives. Female friends admonish themselves for being too bulky, not curvy enough, the wrong height, or not having the “right” breasts or butt. Mothers speak crossly about their own bodies or make critical remarks regarding their daughters’ looks.
Essentially, our society tells women they are not naturally beautiful.
It is sad we do not always see the beauty smack dab in front of us. As my friend remarked, “Whenever I think about myself and how society defines beauty, it’s like ‘Well that shouldn’t define beauty, God did.’” In her time of struggle with self-esteem, she came to realize, “He created me to look like this. That is beautiful.”
What Does God Say?
Only God has a perfect view of our beauty. We were made in His image, so we are beautiful no matter whether someone else sees it or not. God is the only One with clear vision. The rest of us desperately need prescriptions.
There is no need for us to seek beauty out or “fix” ourselves in order to achieve it. We don’t need to be afraid of losing it at the slightest touch of wind. God is the author of beauty and has made our allure undeniable.
Psalm 139 says God knitted us together in our mother’s womb (verse 13), carefully detailing our shape and outline and artistically forming our idiosyncrasies. Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
To be fearfully and wonderfully made means to be extraordinary and made with the same kind of awe we have toward God. And God’s awesomeness includes intense beauty.
So who are we to say we can erase this artistry from our skin? If He wove us intricately, why would we want to unravel such beauty and marvel? He knew about puberty and old age. He knew every single detail of our lives and shaped us with those things in mind.
We call waterfalls and flowers beautiful and gaze at the stars in wonder. All around us, God’s creation points to His talented and focused handiwork.
Does that not include us?
He says we are “very good”
We are the only facet of creation He declared to be not just good, but “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
It is laughable to think we could possibly take away the physical beauty He has given us. Such attempts are pointless endeavors because there is no way to get rid of it. God is Sovereign, and we cannot overcome Him. Our beauty is truly inescapable.
Today I encourage you to write down some physical aspects about yourself you appreciate. Do you like your curly hair or your fiery eyes? How about your strong arms or your curvy build?
If you want to go a step further, take a moment to “strike a pose” in your mirror. Have fun admiring the gorgeous, elaborate body God has given you.
Most importantly, our beauty is not just external. God created us to reflect His glory in every aspect, down to our very souls. There is no getting away from this deeply rooted beauty we possess. “Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4).
Can you see His beauty in you?
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