Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday Evening Freebie... Are You Beautiful?

Note: I penned this several years ago...  but I think it remains one of my favorite things I've ever written.


I recently watched my daughters play dress-up. They got out all of their dancing clothes. Pink flowy dresses that spread way out when they spun in circles. Purple sparkly dress-up high heels. Strands of beads. White gloves. The whole package. They grabbed their "princes" (their favorite stuffed animals), put on a Barbie soundtrack and spun in circles, dancing for half an hour. I watched delight spread over their faces as they practiced being beautiful.

I can remember doing that as a child. I can remember the tutus and the spinning dresses. I remember putting on my mom's records while my sisters and I made up dance routines to Olivia Newton-John and Chariots of Fire. We made my mom sit through them as they were performed. Over and over and over and over again. I remember bowing and watching my mom's face for a look. The one that said "You are beautiful and I adore you." I usually got it and my mom made me believe that, at 6 years old, I was beautiful.

I sit here today and wonder when I did something like that last? When did I do something beautiful for the sheer act of being beautiful? When did I truly FEEL that I, Joanne, was beautiful? FOR REAL. Not just pretty. Not just cute. Not just nice-looking. Not just "not-bad"... but really and truly beautiful. Where does that go?

I KNOW the desire is there. DEEPLY THERE. Last week, I exchanged "Friday pictures" with a bunch of my girlfriends. We all snapped pictures of each other with our digital cameras and emailed them to each other, accompanied by excuses for why we didn't look perfect. What followed was wave after wave of "You are so beautiful," "You look like you've lost a lot of weight," "I love your hhyuyuyiair!" "I would kill for your lips!" I can't speak for the rest of the women, but for me? I was beaming. To be told that I was beautiful?? That someone envied something about the way I looked? It made my whole MONTH.

We desperately want to know that we're beautiful. And I don't think it's just a shallow thing. I watch my daughters... I watch their delight when their daddy pays attention to them, tells them he loves them, tells them that they are his beautiful angels. I see the ecstasy that passes over them, and THAT'S REAL. AND GOOD. I don't believe the desire to be loved and cherished by their dad is a culture thing. It's a God thing. God created us to be beautiful. Unashamedly beautiful.  Not the ONLY reason He created us, certainly. But, He created us in beauty.

So where did it all go wrong? Why are there SO MANY women who don't believe they are beautiful?? Why are there so many women who believe that they are not enough? Don't believe me? Go look at any weight loss forum. Go look at the HUGE number of women's magazines that are out there teaching us how to be more beautiful. We do not have faith in our own beauty. And we are looking for anything to tell us how to get there.

Do you wanna know a secret, girls? You won't find the answer in Cosmopolitan. Or Vogue. Or In Style. Or in Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, or Atkins. Because it doesn't have anything to do with what you physically look like. It has to do with being comfortable with the WOMAN you were made you to be. It means wearing the skin of a woman like you were born to it. AND YOU WERE. We've bought into the world's idea of beauty. Supermodel. Miss America. The right figure. The right makeup. The right hair. But beauty isn't about that.

This may not be a perfect example... but you know who I think is REALLY beautiful? I mean, REALLY beautiful. Queen Latifah. You know why? Because she's not Cyndi Crawford. She is not the typical traditional idea of beauty. She's not petite! She's not thin. But, I think she's totally sexy because she seems to be comfortable with herself.  She isn't shy about being fully herself. 

When I was 16, I started dating a boy. Poor guy, he didn't know what he was in for. He liked me. He really really liked me. And I had a very hard time believing him. He thought I was pretty. No, he thought I was BEAUTIFUL. He told me so every day that we were together. After a year, I started to believe I was pretty. After two years, I started to believe I was beautiful. After three years, I truly believed I was beautiful. AND IT SHOWED. My looks didn't really change that much. Oh, the acne settled down a little. And I learned a little more about makeup. But what really changed my looks was my belief about myself. I BELIEVED I WAS BEAUTIFUL. I BELIEVED I WAS SEXY AND ATTRACTIVE. And what do you know... AFTER I started truly believing it, I noticed turned heads. They may have started turning before, but I don't really believe they did. I believe that they started turning because I exuded a confidence and a belief in myself that I never had before.

That's half the puzzle, I think. Believing in yourself. Not to steal from a current popular book.. but I'm reading it right now, and I thought it was brilliant.  In Captivating, John and Stasi Elderidge write that as we grow from girls, and we get told (in one form or another) that we are not enough, that we are not important, that we are not beautiful, we hide our beauty.  We hide what God created.  Some women become controlling and overbearing... some women become meek and adamant that they will not be a hindrance, will not be a bother, and retreat into themselves.  BOTH extremes (and the spectrum between the two that many of us will find ourselves on) are our defense mechanisms.  They keep us from being hurt.  It's what we use to shield ourselves and keep our souls from being trampled.
But, girls...  they hide us.  They hide our beauty.  They hide who we were created to be.  Let go of your inhibitions.  Let go of the masks.  Let go of the hurt. Let go of the defenses.  YOU DON'T NEED THEM.  Embrace who you are.  Embrace God's love for you.  Embrace the blessings He's placed in your life.
Go get a mirror.  Or run back and forth between the computer and the bathroom.  Look at yourself in the mirror.  Don't look at your parts.  Too often, I look in the mirror and I see eyes that crinkle up way too much when I smile.  Or a nose with too many zits.  Or eyebrows that are in desperate need of plucking. But I never see the whole package.  Look past your facial FEATURES and see YOU.  See who those who love you see when they look at you.  Now repeat after me.
Now go strut your stuff.

1 comment:

  1. *high five* and *hug* - at the same time. Lots to think about, for me anyways.


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