She wakes up about two hours before she needs to leave the house, to get to school on time. Her beauty routine is a ritual: long shower and a smooth shave, moisturized skin, and a blowout for her long dark tresses. After blow-drying, she straightens her hair as well. It has to be flawless. Then the next step of this preparation task is to put on her “face.” Makeup is piled on in a very professional manner: foundation, then eyeliner, blush, eyelashes are curled, and mascara is applied. If necessary, bronzer is also delicately placed where it most accentuates the lines of her face.
When the routine has been run through, she steps back and looks in the mirror to critique every aspect. She stands in a towel, searching for meaning in her appearance. She stands looking for her worth. If she passes the inspection, then it’s a GO. Time to dress her best. She rummages through her stores of clothing, an array of material goods. Though she has so many things, none of them are the right ones. Sometimes she sits on the edge of her bed, head in hands, and begins to weep. Feeling sorry for herself and believing that she’s ugly and unfit for the world to see, she wants to crawl into a hole. Nothing fits right, nothing looks glamorous.
What I’m describing to you is a situation that occurs every morning in the lives of so many women and girls. They are of many different shapes and sizes, but that doesn’t matter: they aren’t what they think they should be. This particular story is my own, and now I’ve shared it with you. The competing factors that tie into my decade-long obsession with perfection, beauty, meaning, and worth are numerous and hazy at best, but I know it’s something between my Creator and I. Acceptance. It’s not easy for me to talk about this regularly, but I feel that I need to because it’s a part of my life–God has redeemed me from it, and I want to work towards helping others redeem their understanding of natural beauty as well.
There’s a clear fact that I think the world tries to hide, because of its greedy desires (for money, for power, etc). This unmistakable truth is that we all, every human being on the planet, need exposure and access to beauty. I am speaking of real beauty, truth. It is something that rings and resonates in our souls as pure and untainted. The world tries to recreate everything it can: it molds beauty this way and that with its greedy claws. It broadcasts the latest trends and the most hip diets for everyone to become addicted to. It showcases models of “beauty” down red carpet catwalks–these remnants of people delicately display protruding hips, thin lips, and designer platform shoes. This is the example of beauty to so many young people in our world. When they find that they can’t replicate this model appearance, because their body was made by God and not in the image of this world’s “ideals,” it is deeply painful and quite like torture for them.
I had subscriptions to flim-flam beauty mags and consumer-minded websites like the rest of the teens I knew when I was younger: and it broke me down. Looking at the prices of the clothing the models wore (Who pays $500 dollars for a torn up ratty t-shirt?) my hunger to be thin and “sexy” like those models grew, but I also lusted after material possessions that were absolutely unnecessary. I fell victim to lies that big business owners willingly spin in order to create more revenue. This cycle of my life took place during (more or less) my first years in high school. I was possibly the thinnest I had ever been, at 110 lbs and 5’4″ tall, yet to my horror I considered myself fat.
Through all of this, I have found a deep passion and longing within to create a movement towards beauty and truth. A movement towards acceptance and appreciation for God’s creation, especially the unique mold He used to form each woman separately, differently. Every day we buy into the lies of consumerist moguls: “You can’t go out without makeup on! Your ugly uneven skin will be there for all to see!” Every day we think about how to improve the youthfulness of ourselves, putting on creams and using special tricks we read about (yes, even at the young age of 14 I began using those…) to make us ever more attractive.
The book “Captivating” by John & Stasi Eldredge helped me to see some of these things in my life more clearly, and also helped me to heal from the wounds of deception. Each day, I try to listen fully when my husband tells me lovingly “You are beautiful,” and I believe him. I try to take time to nourish my mind and soul, and to be near to beauty in any form. Accepting yourself and becoming confident in who you are, without all the extras, is a very powerful and inspiring thing. When we unmask ourselves our real beauty is allowed to peek through the defenses we put up with our self-care routines. I believe it’s a tool that God gives women to inspire and embolden others, and a weapon of defense that many hope we never learn how to wield. There is so much beauty in the world, and it should serve as an important signal to us about who God is. He is the essence of beauty and truth; He created so much of it. His creation is a reflection of who He is. We need to stop allowing lies to spread, and show younger generations how real beauty is portrayed.