I recently heard a Woman of God I look up to disparage herself when she saw her picture she said “Who’s that ugly woman?” I was shocked and unsettled at her assessment of herself not only because she truly is beautiful but mostly because it was unexpected. When we hold someone in esteem we tend to think they are perfect. We think, “oh she doesn’t deal with the mess I deal with, that is beneath her.”
One would think that I found this interchange to be freeing. I too, like many woman, deal with body image issues and self esteem, based on my looks and size. So if this woman who seems to be a grand master of all things spiritual, deals with this crap than man I’m ok….. Instead of feeling the freedom of knowing I am not alone. I felt, well, kind of hopeless.
If this lady, with all the life she has lived, all the good she has done, all the faith she has cannot push pass the urge to speak cruelly about herself than what chance do I stand?
I know there are people who esteem me the way I esteem her. I was once told by a peer that I was the “holiest woman they know.” A comment that baffles me to no end, yet I am glad they see the light in me. With all of that being said some people think I am perfect. That my understanding of God should somehow wipe away the pain of not thinking you are good enough. But I am here to say it’s a struggle.
Now don’t get me wrong I know I’m kinda cute :-)! But when I stare at myself in the mirror I pick myself apart. My pores are too big, my nose is large, my mouth does this strange thing. My boobs are far far too big (yes that is a thing), since two babies my stomach appears to have been run over by a tractor trailer lol! I have trouble with clothes fitting my body. And even the clothes I do have I am always thinking they are not trendy enough. I see those well polished girls with all the right accessories and I am like man….HOW DO I DO THAT??? I always ask my husband, “Babe do you want me to be more fancy? Like one of those fancy girls?” I chuckle because he looks at me crazy every time, to him I am his lovely bride so he doesn’t get it.
If you are like me you try to repeat to yourself “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” You try to avoid talking down about yourself in front of others, you try reassuring yourself and resting in the affirmation of your loved ones but the way you truly feel about yourself tends to fall flat. That’s where it really gets difficult. At that moment after trying all the tricks in the bag you start to believe the lie, that maybe your self esteem problem is not the product of sin or a social/cultural system that idolizes their false ideas about beauty. Maybe the little voice is right? Maybe you look terrible, Maybe people see you as a big girl with large pores lol.
Something recently happened to stop this cycle of thought. Going through some old pictures I found a pic of me stepping out in college. Mini dress and heals, my waist was smaller than I ever remember it being. Talk about thigh gap! The famous space between your thighs where they do not touch, it is supposed to serve a litmus test of beauty, I actually had one! Yet I have a very distinct memory of wearing that dress and taking that picture, even though that picture was taken 10 years and 2 kids ago, at that time I really was not happy with my body either! So let me get this straight I probably weigh two times more now than I did then and yet I still believed that I was fat! Now this sheds some light on things. I am not a gigantic ugly lady I am just crazy! 🙂 Body dismorphic disorder is a real thing, now maybe I have not been diagnosed with a psychological disorder, but the truth remains the same for those struggling with body image and self esteem issues. No amount of weight loss, no thigh gap measurements, no amount of make up or just the right clothes will ever make you truly affirm yourself. You see, self affirmation, self love, cannot be managed by external things it truly comes from the inside.
Now before this turns into the sappy part of “Full House” where they play the soft music and Danny explains the lesson learned. I am going to tell you right now, I know the cure is found in Jesus Christ but I am not sure how to access it. You can repeat affirmations about your body until you are blue in the face and not feel any differently. So my advice to you and myself is that values affect ones beliefs and beliefs affect ones actions. Working backwards I have to consistently change my actions until it settles into my belief system and then becomes a permanent value. That I am beautiful, that I am loved. That I am perfect the way that I am.
The reason why I want to fight this fight is for my daughter. How can she know that she is holistically beautiful if I flippantly say of myself, “oh look at that ugly lady in the picture.” She will know that even her imperfections are beautiful, by my demonstration of this value.
One more thing! I do not typically get so feisty when blogging but this is very important! Although I appreciate all of the wonderful affirmation that will most likely come of this post they really are not helpful. I truly truly am flattered and honored that others think I am beautiful but what counts is what I believe about myself. The problem is, when someone exposes themselves by sharing that they have self esteem issues and you say “Silly rabbit you are beautiful how can you possibly struggle with this?” it simply makes me and others like me feel even worse about myself. We think what is wrong with me silly rabbit! I am so stupid to deal with this. Instead pray that I will consistently surrender this struggle to the Lord so that he can refine me and that I find freedom.