God and Me Sort of Year Part 2 – What is Beautiful?

I’ve always struggled with this question. As a female, I think we’re always being told what’s beautiful according to what society dictates and if we’re not, people have no problem with letting us know. See, this is where it sets in in young girls’ minds. Who wants to be told, “You’re not pretty,” “You need to lose weight,” “Maybe if you tried harder,” “No, I don’t like you. You’re ugly”? No one does.

Lately though, even though no one has directly told me these things… I’ve found myself struggling with the concept of beauty on a new level. I see girls around me and friends that are BEAUTIFUL. They are gorgeous. Now some of them… I’m not going to lie are just pretty on the outside, but then I have friends who are beautiful inside and out. And people notice.. I get done hanging out with them and all of a sudden, I feel worthless. I don’t feel good enough (ALL girls go through this). Which has brought on its own set of problems that I’d rather not get into… Ever.

What society calls beautiful is always changing, but one thing that remains the same is that beauty is just what is found on the outside. Does she have the right body shape? The height? The face? It’s all the lies that females are told to believe about beauty. Sometimes it gets to be too much. Girls will go through THOUSANDS of diets, including Anorexia and Bulimia and sometimes extreme work-out regimens. They will “hide” themselves. They’ll want to become wall flowers. Invisible. Girls will go into depression and sometimes become suicidal.

Society has this image of beauty that no one can ever live up to, not even the models that supposedly have it. Pictures get photo shopped ALL the time. Imperfections are removed. Smiles whitened. Eyes enlarged, lips smaller or bigger (this really depends). So many things get distorted, but somehow society sees it and says, “This is what women need to look like to be beautiful.”

I’ve been reading Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge as my devotional – which I recommend every female read – and I can’t help but cry by the time I get done with the chapter. It hits it on the head. All of it. The reasons females feel so worthless. The factors that have women ending in questioning their beauty. They say that every female has a question that they need answered, “Am I captivating? Do you see me?” It’s interesting to read.

With every thought that a female has negatively about being captivating is wonderfully answered with biblical truth and reference. Think about this – which by the way stunned me, because women even in church aren’t told this – we are made in the image of God, right? Which would mean that we are made with God’s qualities. Men are strong, leaders, and the head of the house. God is strong, leader/guide, the head of the church. Women are soft, loving, caring, romantic, and adventurous. Which would only make sense then that God is soft, loving, caring, romantic and adventurous. When we say we’re made in the image of God, it means that femininity is something that God has. No matter how much it’s seen as weak, God has those very same qualities.

You know. Having people… “men” attack your beauty is not okay. I’ve been feeling like lately people attack me. I feel like they tell me I’m not good enough. And you know what? I’m not going to be everyone’s definition of beautiful… most everyone’s… But why do people feel the need to attack the kind of person you are? Inside and out. It doesn’t make sense. I think sometimes men just don’t understand how one thing you can say… or not say really affects the females around them. Like John and Stasi said in their book,

“To experience the strength of a man is to have him speak on our behalf. For when men abuse with words, we are pierced. Their strength has wounded us. When they are silent, we are starved. They have offered no strength; they have abandoned us. But when they speak with us, hear us, offer their words to us and on our behalf, something in our hearts is able to rest. . . .
We long for the protection masculine strength offers. To have them shield us from physical harm, yes. But also to have them shield us from emotional harm and spiritual attack. To intercede for us in a relationship which has become hurtful. . . .
As women we long for someone strong to stand between us and the vicious assaults of our Enemy.”

Whether it’s attacking our intelligence, our personality or our physical appearance it doesn’t help us feel beautiful. Beauty is not only an outward thing. It’s what as women we have to offer. …But some “men” just don’t see it like that. We are to be a size two at most, with pale skin, with long legs. Our personalities? Depending on the person, vary.

Our beauty on the inside needs to radiate through our pores, but it’s hard for us to see our own beauty sometimes because of all these things the world tells us we need to be. Beauty isn’t skin deep (as much as that disappoints some guys). Beauty is something more. It’s the way we carry ourselves, it’s our femininity (which for the most part HAS been taken from us), it’s letting God shine through us. God loves our femininity. He made us this way because that’s what he thought Adam needed when He made Eve.

This is why I said femininity has been taken away from us… Remember what I said about girls having a question they need answered? It’s true. I’ve  been reflecting on what John and Stasi say in their book and have come to see that they’re right. As girls we want to be pretty. We walk… no, STRUT around the house in a dress, twirl. It’s all part of us wanting our fathers to tell us we are beautiful. But we don’t always have that. Instead we can also have absent fathers or abusive fathers. We learn through them that we are not beautiful. We aren’t special. We’ll sometimes think that the reason why is somehow our fault and therefore, from then on, we begin to hide. We no longer try to be feminine… or we do but it’s to get the wrong type of attention.

I personally hide. I know that’s what I do. I try to fix what’s wrong with me. If someone doesn’t like me (not necessarily in a romantic sense), I feel like I’m not good enough. Like there’s something wrong with me and I try to figure it out so that I can fix it. I’m the type of person who prefers to be in the back. Let my beautiful friends shine and stick me in the back somewhere for no one to see me. I like frumpy clothes (though I just think they’re comfortable clothes). I hate it when people use indirect remarks to tell me what’s wrong with me because I already think… “I’m not good enough for anyone”.

This semester it’s gotten harder to think that I’m good enough in any sense. I have people in my life that remind me of what I’ve spent my whole life hearing… just with a new twist. I struggle with seeing anything worth anyone’s time in myself. I struggle to be vulnerable (as we should be as females… and not the wrong type of vulnerable, but the healthy one) because I don’t want to experience rejection once again. I struggle with compliments, I always think that they’re just being nice (even if they say they’re not the type to pay a compliment unless they mean it). I won’t talk about my feelings in any part of the romantic sense, because I don’t want to be rejected yet again.

Even though I struggle with all this – and so do all women – God’s opening my eyes to the reason He made us. Why He made females the way He did and how I can reclaim the beauty God has given us. I’m slowly learning. This might be one of the bigger challenges in my God and Me Year.

Ladies, if you still haven’t read Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge, I recommend you do. It’s an amazing book. Reclaim your femininity.

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