She sat on the couch with her husband at a party. Her eyes scanned the room at all of the beautiful faces laughing. The shapes of the gorgeous girls and their perfectly planned outfits captured her attention. She looked over at her husband’s eyes to see if he was noticing what she was noticing. Suddenly, she felt small and ugly; her usual confidence was drowning in insecurity.
This scenario could have described me to a T several years ago. I spent many years crippled with insecurity, always wondering what my husband was thinking about, looking at, participating in… Always noticing myself feeling jealousy or worthlessness compared to the women I considered more put together, more attractive, and more personable.
Insecurity dismembered so many relationships in my life. It robbed me of joy for years, until I finally decided that something needed to change. I could not keep living like this. Heck, my husband couldn’t keep living with this.
As women, we have an impossible standard to “live up to.” Yes, beauty has been defined differently over the years and generations by society, but I have to think we are living in some of the hardest times to truly find our worth in something other than our bodies and faces. Companies like Disney and products even like Barbie seem to be trying to change their marketing. They are using words like “girl power” and trying to use more average looking characters in their movies. But at the end of the day, we know what seems to attract a male. It’s the flawless model on the magazine cover that exudes sexuality and inner strength. It’s that sexy, strong, confident female in almost every action movie we watch. The one who seems to lure men with just a glance over her shoulder.
Obviously we know in our hearts that this is fake, but we should not be fooled into thinking that it is not affecting us in a deep way as we watch this type of entertainment over and over. I’m not suggesting that we don’t watch movies. . . That’s not my aim. But I think we are crazy if we think that the cumulative affect of visual female perfection does not weigh on our hearts in a negative way.
And for those that are saying that women have no right to make a fuss about their “rights” or that sexism doesn’t exist, don’t be fooled either! I just talked with a woman in my current hometown that said at the restaurant she works at, the manager told his 16 year old hostess that she needed to start coming to work with more makeup on. I about ran over to the restaurant that second to give him a piece of my mind. If anyone even thinks about telling my SIXTEEN year-old daughter to wear more makeup in order to be more attractive to the customers walking in a restaurant, you better believe he will see a mama bear he has never seen before. This kind of behavior and thinking is toxic, and I can’t imagine the feelings of insecurity that may have begun to rise up in that young girl because of this man’s foolishness.
So, what’s the secret?! How do we stop comparing, obsessing, despairing? Well, we know what God says. We are supposed to find our worth in Him. Our appearance matters little to Him, and since we are created in His image, we are all beautiful.
But, what about the woman who is still thinking that isn’t enough? We still want to feel beautiful. Mothers don’t want to have stretch marks from bearing tiny humans and saggy breasts from years of giving our bodies in a selfless way to our children. Teenagers want to feel for once like they are getting attention from the boys in the classroom. Single women want to feel like someday they will find a husband and not have to change in the process of finding him in order to attract him.
So, while yes, we can and should find great comfort in I Peter 3:3-4, where Peter encourages women to chase a beauty “of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (As a side note, this is truly what attracts the right kind of guy.) I also found another solution to my insecurities.
Loving my fellow women. I mean really loving them. Seeing their beauty and appreciating it rather than fearing it. Embracing their strengths and lifting them up in their weaknesses.
This is not a time for jealousy, spite, and contention in our relationships with each other (no matter our age). This is a time to be confidently and lovingly lifting one another up. When you see that picture on Facebook that suddenly throws you into a sea of insecurity, take a minute to see what you appreciate about that woman, and then tell her. And most importantly, I know now that another woman’s beauty does not take away from my own beauty. Her strengths do not define me. My weaknesses do not define me. My worth IS in more than how my body looks.
Releasing those chains of insecurity and breaking free from that sin has left me feeling like a load has been lifted off of my spirit. It’s amazing how much more confident and joyful I can be when I’m not weighted down by insecurity. Can you imagine if we all rallied around each other, encouraging one another in our gifts, talents, and beauty in a genuine way? Insecurity would have no chance.
I have to give the credit first and foremost to Christ who freed me from the slavery of insecurity, but practically speaking, I did (and do) have to mentally preach to myself when feeling like I’m starting to slip into feelings of insecurity….
“My worth is not in [insert negative body part].”
“Her beauty does not define my beauty. And I am truly happy for her that she is so beautiful.”
“My worth is solely in being a daughter of Christ.”
I can’t keep silent about this issue and I’m more than happy to talk to anyone who feels trapped in insecurity. Especially you younger girls who are SO much more than your bodies, your make-up, your outfits. I truly want you to grow up without feeling like your worth is in how you look. Trust me, I know what you are experiencing and still remember being laughed at when I was younger for having a “pooch” in my belly. My later years were insanely shaped by that incident. Be the one among your friends to stop the negativity to other girls and start praising them. It’s not only what God commands us to do (love one another) there is also true joy to be found in it.
The best way we can teach our daughters to have a healthy body image and our sons to see past a woman’s outward appearance is to demonstrate it to them. They will watch how we judge ourselves, how we judge others, and how genuine and real our friendships with other women are.
We can’t free ourselves from anything without His help. So first and foremost, may we all continue to discipline ourselves in prayer to the One who can free us from our insecurities. He is good and He wants us to be women of strength and dignity.
If we only truly knew how beautiful we are to Him.