Women are bombarded every day with different ideals of beauty. We are told that sexy is a thin girl in her (overpriced) underwear walking down a runway with fake angel wings. We are told that you must have a certain bra size, waist size, hip size, a thigh gap, ribs that can be noticed when you stretch, collar bones peeking through…you get it. We are told that if you don’t belong in the last two sentences, that you better have a pretty face. You should get your eyebrows done, have perfect skin, take at least 45 minutes to do all of your makeup, have long nails, long hair, long legs…you get it. You also have exude confidence, even on your worst days. Even when you’re told that you’re not sexy, you’ll never be sexy, so you should settle for cute but chubby.
Guys have it too. If a man doesn’t have a chiseled jaw line, broad shoulders, six-pack (or more) abs, thick muscles in his arms and legs, that “V” line on his hips…. I swear I already see the girls nodding and picturing this hunk…you get it though. If a guy isn’t that, he isn’t lusted after either. Guys are told that they have to work out a lot to be attractive, even if they’ll never obtain the Hollywood body. He has to be funny, smart, not too nerdy and obsessed with video games. He also has to have a good job that pays well and makes you proud to be with him.
You might like a guy or a girl who isn’t those things. And if you do, great! You might be married to him or her. But you can’t help but carry the baggage of feeling like you don’t measure up to society’s standards. Or they carry the baggage and the weight of it in your relationship and it is really starting to do damage.
In high school I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I was so critical of every mark on my face, every ounce of fat, every hair out-of-place. Every girl I knew was the same way. And we sought attention, no, we sought confirmation of our value from guys. If a football player stared at us for a second we immediately tried to get more of his attention. If a “scene” kid was interested in us, we became “scene.” We wore tight clothes, revealing clothes, heavy makeup, whatever it took. We molded ourselves to whatever we thought others wanted us to be. We did whatever it took, or almost whatever it took. Some people died to achieve society’s standards. Some people felt so alone, so rejected because nothing they did to feel beautiful worked, so they ended their life or attempted to. Maybe that was someone you knew, maybe that was you.
I have carried this baggage, these heartbreaking issues, for a long time. My soul has felt so heavy, my whole body ached for relief. It wasn’t until I was worn out from trying to mold myself for someone else that I read this verse with the right mindset:
For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
Psalm 139:13-14, NKJV
He formed me. He covered me. He placed every hair, every birthmark, every nail, every muscle, and more. He didn’t do those things on accident–He did this meticulous work on me because he wanted me this way. I don’t have to try to mold myself to be anyone or anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we can’t color our hair (I do it all the time) or have piercings, or get tattoos. That’s up to you. I’m saying we need to take pride in ourselves, in who we are at this moment in time.
Do you feel overweight? Work out to take care of the body God gave you, not out of obligation to some superficial standard. Give me some workout ideas! I want to join you. Do you like putting make up on because it makes you feel beautiful or because you want to accentuate the beauty you already have? Go on and highlight those cheeks, line your lips, add some fierce wings. Tag me in your Instagram photo @anamercy . Getting a tattoo? Are you doing it to hide something or because you’re proud of something? Show me your favorite ink, tell me the story behind it. Putting crazy colors in your hair? Are you doing it because you want to cover up your mousey-brown hair or because you love purple and think it’s fun? Send me pictures, tag me, I want inspiration. Whatever you do to yourself, do it because you love yourself, not because you think it’s what society would want.
Our beauty isn’t determined by what others think of us. Our beauty was predetermined by the one who looks at you with pride–the one who loved every inch of you while you were safe inside your mother’s womb. I look in the mirror now and smile at myself. When those thoughts of doubt, of low self-worth come creeping in, I stop them by remembering that God created me in His own image (Gen. 1:27), and that He loves me just the way I am. He loves you too.
Thank You for creating me. Thank You for my smile, my eyes, my ears, my nose. I thank You for the things I once wanted to change. You know how hard I’ve been on myself. You know the tears I’ve cried over wishing some part of me was what society said was beautiful. I know now that You find me exquisite. I know that You look at me with love and with adoration, the kind that Hollywood says I should search for in some guy. I know You place so much more value on me than I place on myself. I know You hurt when I don’t love how You made me. I strive to keep Your Word in my heart and on my mind.
God, thank You for making me wonderful and marvelous. Amen!