The wicked witch was only seeking what seems to elude us all – beauty, and she was willing to kill to get it. What I find ironic is that she was beautiful, but because the mirror spoke another name, she was determined to destroy her perceived threat. Many times we stand before mirrors and ask, “Am I beautiful?” And more often than not, it answers back no. The mirror lies.
Most girls have self image issues. Insecurities run rampant in most teens, but add a few extra pounds and suddenly fat becomes ugly. I hate this. I have never struggled with weight which is a gift from God! I do not take that for granted, and I realize that being able to eat what I want is a luxury many feel they cannot afford. But, I had friends, and have friends still, that battle the bulge and literally have to wage war to stay fit.
A woman or teen’s confidence can literally hinge on 5 extra pounds. Many of them are BEAUTIFUL with sparkling eyes, flawless complexions, and full lips not to mention their inner beauty, but all they see in the mirror are round midsections or wide hips. Then there are those who look perfect in every socially defined way but struggle with their skin, and when they look in the mirror instead of seeing a long, lean body their eyes zone in on the red patches and pimples that they can’t seem to get rid of, or unseen imperfections that stand out to them like glaring eye sores. The enemy won’t let them look past their “flaws” and often, more so with teens, uses callous comments by others to further imbed that self-imposed image of ugliness. As if that isn’t enough, the media pushes the “perfect” image as tight abs and perky breasts with slender legs in stilettos. We’ve all seen the enhanced images where curves are accentuated, cellulite is erased, and any imperfections are deleted to protect that “perfection.” It’s a false depiction of beauty that has our teens and women starving themselves and succumbing to eating disorders and medical procedures to attain!
“I’m fat. I’m so ugly.” I looked up from my laptop to see my 12 year old looking in her reflection. I immediately corrected her. She isn’t fat. She isn’t bone thin with a collarbone that sticks out like a boomerang but she’s not obese. But even if she were, she’s not ugly! Most parents might simply say, “No honey, don’t say that,” and let it go. Or worse, “Well, eat less and exercise more, and you won’t be so fat.” I’m not most parents. I’m a vigilante when it comes to insecurities! I have seen too many women and teens struggling with the issues and pains mentioned above that I REFUSE to let those thoughts marinate in the soul of any girl, much less my child! Bless her heart she had to listen to a sermon about beauty and what defines beauty and realizing that God makes us in all shapes, sizes, and colors because He loves diversity! After I got down from my pulpit of indignation, I made her think about two features that she really likes – she chose her eyes and her nails. I pointed out how those things don’t change, and no matter what her body looks like those two things will always be a source of beauty. And you know what, by the end of that conversation, she was looking at herself differently, even flirting with the mirror. It’s funny, but it’s beautiful because in that moment she was able to see beyond her insecurities to the beauty she possesses and her whole demeanor changed. I’m not naive. We will have that conversation again… After all, she is a teenager!
It’s so important that we as women set a positive example of image to those younger. What they see is what they parrot. I’m guilty. I have not always been happy with my body or my skin, and I have made offhanded flippant comments, comments that I have heard my girls repeat.
I know better! But, I am especially prone to this around bathing suit season, and I totally blame the photoshopped bikini clad models that bombard the magazine covers for that insecurity. And it happens to be those moments that my kids are listening (actually, word to the wise: they are ALWAYS listening) and that insecurity grows a little bit deeper in the soil of their souls.
As women we are horrible. We judge others to make ourselves look better. We size them up so that we come out better, making comments like “I may need to lose a few pounds, but I don’t look like her!” But worse than that, we can be feeling pretty good, wearing a new outfit, new hairstyle, and someone comes up that we judge to be far more attractive, fitting more the trumped up image of beauty, and suddenly all that we were feeling good about pales in comparison.
Therein lies the problem.
Pun completely intended.
We don’t accept our beauty as individualized and unique. Instead we feel like if we don’t resemble another perceived beautiful person then we aren’t beautiful. My prayer would be that we would be able to appreciate one another’s beauty without comparing ourselves. How beautiful would it be if we could embrace our individuality and still see the attraction of others? Much of our stress and insecurity lies in feeling inferior and inadequate. What if we could see ourselves as God sees us? What if who I am is perfectly fine for me just as who you are is perfectly fine for you?
We are created in the image of God. He is not ugly, and like a wise teenager once told me, after fighting the lies of self image and insecurity herself, “God makes beautiful things out of the dust.” It’s true! Who do we consider the most beautiful and perfect image of all time? Many would say “Eve” the first woman, and God created her out of a rib and dust, and just like us she was beautiful. She wasn’t judged by what she didn’t have, but she was loved for who she was. Lucky chick didn’t have another woman to compare herself to! She didn’t have to fight for the affections and attentions of her porn addicted husband. She didn’t have to worry about being replaced by a younger, prettier, perkier model. She didn’t have to face the taunts of models on magazines. I’ve heard many men make comments in awe of what she might have looked like – conjuring images of voluptuous and perfectly carved women. But, what if she wasn’t? What if she had wide hips and a protruding forehead? What if she looked more like a cave woman than Wonder Woman? Chances are good she didn’t look anything like their fantasies. In fact, a mere 200 years ago the beautiful women of today would have been pitied and dismissed, looked over in the pursuit of full figured pale women that were more fit to wed.
Our image of beauty is fleeting. Cultural images of beauty are fickle. Why do we tie our self-worth to something that isn’t consistent or attainable? Why do we allow the enemy to destroy our individuality by forcing us into conformity? And, what does our Maker think when we say “Why did you make me this way?” – the Creator that intricately designed us in our mother’s womb? I think He says, “Don’t listen to the enemy. Don’t let him saturate your delicate mind with lies and accusations. Drown out his voice with the knowledge that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and the very things that make you cringe, make me smile. That scar on your eye that seems to mar your beauty only enhances it. That mole on your leg that you cover every time it might be exposed, I placed it there like a kiss.” And one by one, inch by inch, everything that we hate about ourselves He would point out as uniquely beautiful. Because we are. And if we can’t see it, He does, and He knows us far better than any skewed image in a mirror can reflect.