My friends and I love to share clothes and accessories with one another. It’s so much fun to say, “This would look so good on you” or “I have the perfect necklace to go with your dress.” And of course, my friends have pulled through for me when I’ve been in a rush asking, “Does anyone have a black dress I can wear for tonight?”
We love helping each other out, and sometimes the best part of going to a school dance or formal event is the preparation with friends that comes beforehand.
While my friends and I have shared many laughs and good times getting ready together, taking the time to focus excessively on our appearances can sometimes spiral into a stream of negative self-talk. One of us wishes to be taller, another to be thinner, and we continue on with critiques.
There was one time in particular when my friends and I were especially critical of ourselves. It was a rough week at school full of exams, papers, and stress, and none of us were in good moods. Looking in the mirror, I could think of a hundred different things I would’ve liked to change about my body, and I’m not sure I could’ve named one feature that I liked.
As quick as I was to judge myself, I was horrified to hear the negative comments my friends were making about their own bodies. When I looked around the room, I saw my friends dressed in fabulous attire, and I was amazed at how they could be so critical of their own appearances.
They are absolutely beautiful, I thought. How could they not see that?
Then I wondered if, at that moment, God was thinking the same thing about me.
I reminded myself that God tells me I am His beautiful child, made in His image and likeness. Not to mention, He finds my inner beauty much more important than my outward appearance. While I am quick to call myself too short or too plump, He would never speak so negatively of His child. He wants me to respect and love my body as He loves it.
With God’s perception of beauty in mind, I thought about how the negative comments my friends and I said aloud about our bodies might have been different if we saw ourselves as God sees us.
I imagine that, “I hate my short and stout legs” would change to, “I love my strong legs. I am so thankful for their ability to help me walk, run, and dance.”
Nobody would say, “I wish I was thinner.” Instead, there’d be choruses of “I’m so happy that God has given me a healthy and beautiful body.”
The mood in the room would change from one of criticism and judgment to one of joy and truth.
In today’s culture I find it harder and harder to see myself as God sees me. Images of models and celebrities fill magazine covers, billboards, and television screens, functioning as ideals of what perfect beauty should look like. I am constantly overwhelmed thinking of the beauty standards I cannot attain. If only I were to listen to God, I would realize that I always have and always will be a beautiful daughter of Christ.
A magazine may tell me that I need the perfect beach body to be beautiful, but God knows more about beauty than celebrities, makeup artists, or fashion gurus. He tells me that I’m beautiful, and I think I should start listening to Him more.