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Should your Women’s Ministry drop the self-esteem talk- featured on bible.org

I hate opening up about stuff that’s embarrassing but when it may bless someone else I am down 🙂 share, like comment here is a quote from the article- “My search for value also created a  deep divide between my sisters in Christ; instead of assets to my personal walk, I saw other women as benchmarks that either challenged my worth or affirmed it because I personally devalued theirs. ”

Click link below to view full article

 

http://blogs.bible.org/engage/christen_jacobs/should_your_womens_ministry_drop_the_self-esteem_talk

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Why I may stop telling my daughter she is pretty

Recently the obsession of beauty and self esteem has haunted me. Maybe it is because I am hyper analytical and I want to be able to unteach my daughter what I learned. It may also have something to do with the fact that after having 2 babies in less than three years time I am 75 pounds heavier than I was the day I got married.

Regardless I have resolved to do better concerning how I feel and talk about myself starting now. This buzzfeed video caught my eye “What does it mean to be pretty.” As the girls explained when they learned that pretty mattered it all started in childhood.

Get this, My siblings all have green eyes! Yes blacks with green eyes is the Holy Grail of beauty right! My brother (whom I love dearly hehe) even has a beauty mark! Like who are you Cindy Crawford!? Regardless to say I didn’t share these traits with my siblings. In fact I distinctly remember an older lady at the church when I was about 6 years old asking me, “And where are your pretty eyes little girl.”  Even though I was young, I was wise. I politely smiled and thought, “Lady you clearly don’t have it all.”

Gabourey Sidibe is famously quoted for saying, “If they never told me I wasn’t beautiful, I wouldn’t have ever had to look for  my beauty.” It makes sense right!  I don’t think we come out of the womb wondering if we can cut the mustard when it comes to looks. We learn that we are not good enough.

This brings me to my point, after watching the video and contemplating these things I don’t want my daughter to focus on how pretty she is. I don’t even want her to think about it really. Especially as a young child! She should be more concerned with making mud pies, and throwing imaginary tea parties.

Like every mother I think my children are the best thing on earth! I think they are beautiful, lovely, pretty and every other adjective I can come up with to this end. Yet I have witnessed a pattern that I do not want to perpetuate in my own children. My baby girl Lily always get’s compliments on her “good hair” and my son too. People have complimented their light complexion. (that’s kinda strange…)

Lily (5 months) and Jude  (2 years) both have show stopping looks. Their smiles light up the room, but every where they go we undoubtedly hear the words. “They are so pretty.”  Now please understand I am not complaining that people wish to compliment my kids, I think they are beautiful children. But isn’t it true, if that is the only praise they consistently hear while growing up that they will begin to associate their value with it?

I want their value to be associated with their virtue, integrity, honesty, courage, kindness and love. So I am going to make a conscious effort to compliment them on these things. I need them to know that their good looks are not what matters most.

On more than one occasion people have said to me of my son, “He is so pretty he can almost be a little girl!” Ummmmmmmmmmmmm OK! What does that mean! Men are beautiful too you know.

The other day a grown woman in her late 50’s said that she wished she had my daughter’s hair! Excuse me lady? You have hair envy of a 5 month old? You may want to check your life.

Here’s an interesting one, may daughter is a thumb sucker. I’ve been told “she is too pretty to suck her thumb.” What does that mean people? We have to be careful what we say because it implies that the converse is true. That some children are so unattractive that it doesn’t matter what habits they pick up? Isn’t that absurd?

Please note these are simply confused rants of a mother who desires to provide balance for her children. But let it be known that my daughter will understand that her looks do not define who she is.

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I have a secret, I have low self esteem

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 thebody image 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.