A few days ago I posted this picture to my Instagram and Facebook page with the following caption of which I got some overwhelming responses to.
I posted the picture without thinking much of what kind of responses I might get, but with a desire to encourage women to be comfortable with who they are. As I checked my phone throughout the day, I was extremely surprised to see that over 50 people had liked the picture and there were comments one after the other with the likes of “you’re beautiful”. I immediately thought, “Oh no! I hope people don’t think that I’m looking for attention or needing validation (although, we as women can always use validation…let’s be honest).” I was–concerned that I may have put off the wrong idea as to why I posted the picture but then I felt God telling me to accept the compliments and write about why I posted the picture. So here goes…
About five months ago I embarked on a new journey…a life without make-up. Or at least, a life mostly without make up. You see, I like many girls enjoy getting dolled up. I want to look and feel beautiful. And like many girls I struggle with my weight, acne, feeling like I have to look just the right way, ect. I am just over 6 ft tall and at this point, weigh over maybe 200 lbs (**gasp!**). Growing up I spent a lot of time feeling like I was out of place, people calling me a tree, “big” (which I now know they meant tall), amazon, jolly-green-giant, to name a few. It took me until I was about out of college to finally feel any kind of confident in my size. Hearing girls who are 5’7″ at 130 lbs call themselves “fat” and then looking in the mirror at myself…didn’t inspire much confidence considering my numbers were way above that. Even when people would tell me that I could be a model, by the world’s standards I’d be a plus size model….just what I wanted to be….plus size. Because that’s the kind of girl guys want…NOT!! And the lies had progressed.
The last three and half years since graduating college have been…remarkable to say the least in my journey of discovering who God created me to be. He has worked very hard to destroy the lies of the enemy and this world that I have believed. I have finally come to a place where I can look at myself in the mirror and see that my identity is not in my height or my weight or my skin complexion. Who I am and my identity is in Christ. God made me who I am for his purposes. Scripture dictates [Genesis 1:26-27] that I am made in the image of God, created beautiful but by no means perfect.
I enjoy playing sports and being active. I’ve been in a weight room regularly for the last 11 years or so. I want to be healthy. I want to feel beautiful. I want to feel attractive. But all the eating healthy and exercising alone is not going to do any of those things. I needed to see my confidence and beauty comes from within FIRST. Now, that may sound cliché to some people. Well, so be it, but it’s true. I always felt like if I couldn’t control my what my body did despite my exercising, then I should control what my face and hair looked like. I felt like I only looked pretty if I had makeup on. Now I wasn’t one that spent hours in the bathroom “putting my face on”, but I did feel like a mutant if I didn’t wear any. I have blonde features so I felt like my face was washed out if I didn’t have makeup on.
Another contributing factor was that whenever I didn’t wear make up, people always asked me if I was tired. “No, I’m not but thank you for telling me that my natural looks make me look, well bad.” (fyi…you may want to rethink asking a woman if she’s tired, even if she looks it. Go the, “How are you?” route instead and let her be the one to point out if she’s tired or not.)
In any case, five months ago I started to think that I wanted to try wearing less makeup or even be brave and go completely without. I wanted to experiment with being vulnerable and also to take a jab at my vanity (of which I begrudgedly admit to). As I was on this journey to find out who I was in Christ, he was teaching me about beauty. That lesson was solidified one evening as I sat around a fire pit with seven or eight of my friends, both guys and girls. We went around asking questions to each other in a panel style to gain perspective from the opposite gender. The girls kicked off the questions to the guys by asking what their thoughts were on women wearing makeup. I was extremely surprised at their responses. It was an almost unanimous response as they all said they didn’t really care one way or the other; that aside from a special occasion, they almost preferred makeup free faces.
For whatever reason, hearing this gave me the confidence I think I needed to be able to feel beautiful and attractive sans the painted face. Almost immediately I stopped wearing any kind of makeup on my face and was amazed at how confident in myself I began to feel; how much freedom I felt. As he does so often in my life, God used these men and my insecurities to accomplish a greater purpose. I was so concerned with putting makeup on because I felt that was what made me beautiful or that was the only way a man would find me attractive/”fall for me” that I lost sight of the truth.
First, my worth is in Christ and HE is pursuing me so I don’t have to be weighed down by finding a man to find me attractive. Second, there is freedom in accepting and embracing my inner beauty that is simply reflected by my outer.
“The King is enthralled in your beauty; honor him for he is Lord.” –Psalm 45:11
In a world where we a women are constantly bombarded to have perfect skin, perfect hair, and perfect bodies it can be incredibly difficult to remember that we are here for God first and people second. I only have ONE person to impress. Now that’s not to say that I stopped taking care of myself. I tried a different face washing regiment to try and clear up my skin, I still color my hair to brighten my already natural blonde hair, and still continue to go to the gym 3-4 times a week. There are several days a week that I will put on a little mascara (that’s the stuff for the eyelashes, fellas) and concealer under my eyes. Every once in a while I will do my full face of makeup. However, now when I put on makeup I do it because I want to, not because I feel like I have to in order to be beautiful or to please people. If I want to take time to curl my hair, I do because it does make me feel good to take care and pride in my body. But again, my goal is to do these things for myself not others and out of appreciation of what God has given me not insecurity.
I realize my story my be different then many women. I know several who women who have similar insecurities but they are manifested in different ways. Bottom line is that God created us ALL beautiful. We need to take care of the bodies he’s given us out of reverence for him, not selfishness and insecurities on our parts. And also, if the man you are into, with, being pursued by, etc doesn’t find your natural beauty alluring, it is not your responsibility to appease him! We as women do not need any pressures from ourselves or others to feel that the only way we can be found beautiful is to alter and/or cover up our appearance. If you wish to, do so out of freedom, not bondage. There are also some women who don’t see themselves as beautiful and feel like “why bother” so they would benefit from getting dolled up to turn the light bulb on and feel empowered. Put plainly, I don’t care what end of the spectrum you’re on, know that your identity and beauty are from above and that through Christ we can all meet in the middle!
Smile and be Free!