(Photo credit: Ashley Noelle Photography)
“I think I’ll be Casper for Halloween, because my skin is almost see-through,” is what I told a co-worker yesterday. To which another co-worker coolly responded, “Why don’t you just spray tan?”
“Oh you know, because I’m embracing my paleness. Obviously.” Or it could be that spray tanning is really expensive and I’d have to do it like twice a week. I mean the concept of going into a booth and having it spray synthetic color all over you really is ridiculous if you think about it. But then again, maybe so is coloring your hair. Guilty as charged.
I’m not really embracing it though, not really. I’m more fighting to deny the inevitable, like putting a tired toddler to bed, kicking and screaming. “But I don’t want to be pasty!” The battle is real ladies. And ridiculously so. It’s kind of like makeup, for your body. Some of us have blotchy, uneven skin that needs a little covering up. Those of you who don’t, or don’t care, be thankful.
Really it’s just insecurity. Which annoys me even more. But the perfectionist in me is so frustrated. Reality is, I’m not perfect, and I’m well aware of that fact. Yet the desire to be perfect is, at times, unavoidable. It’s a girl thing, always wanting to be more lovely, more wise, more desirable. Which to an extent, I believe that can be healthy – wanting to be the best version of yourself. But it’s a very delicate line that holds it in balance.
Before I was married, I heard a woman say once, “If you’re unhappy with the way you look, it’s safe to assume your husband notices too.” Now that may sound very harsh. But I’ve always found it difficult to ignore some glimmer of truth in that statement. Let me explain. I’m not talking about those of us who are super critical about aspects of our appearance that we can’t change, but those of us who have kind of “let things go” over the years, pretending not to care. The false façade of confidence is commonly a fragile, papier mâché mask.
I sometimes look back over pictures from the first year I was married and think, “Really?” I put on that “I’m-Happily-Married-Twenty-Pounds” and consequently wore looser, less flattering clothes. My face was rounder. But whatever! I don’t stress about it. Anymore. My husband still loved me. He still thought I was beautiful. Yet I was frustrated because this wasn’t me. I hated clothes shopping, I hated buying bigger sizes. For the first time in my life I became “self-conscious.” (Which is a terrible disease I wouldn’t wish on even my worst enemy.)
I would be naïve to think my husband didn’t notice. I sure notice when he goes days without shaving or forgets a shower here and there. And I’ll be the first to say, it doesn’t cultivate affectionate feelings. Or when he sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, and then leans in for a kiss a few hours later. Um, no thank you. Or when he walks out of the closet wearing things that obviously should never be paired together, ever. Why haven’t I donated that to Goodwill yet? Of course I still love him. Of course I think he’s handsome. But I notice. And it goes both ways.
I’m not at all suggesting you have to be a certain weight or size, or that you have to look like the celebrities in the magazines. I’m not suggesting you should be tan when you’re naturally fair, or that you should be blonde when you’re naturally brunette. Be yourself and embrace the way God designed you! But if you’re unsatisfied with any aspect of yourself, whether physical or spiritual or emotional, do something about it. If you’re married, work to be appealing to your spouse. If you’re feeling distant from God, be intentional to draw near to Him. If you struggle with anxiety, make an effort to find peace. And so on…
Mothers, embrace the way your body has changed as a result of giving life to another human being. Embrace stretch marks and curves. Don’t worry that your body doesn’t look like it did ten years ago. I know you moms have much less time and energy than us gals without little humans depending on us. But you’re still a girl at heart, a girl who likes to feel pretty, be loved, and feel appreciated. One of my best friends is a mother of two, thirteen years older than me, and is really one of the most beautiful people I know! Not just because she’s hot (and she works hard for it – I would know, we work out together), and not only because she’s confident and comfortable in her own skin, but also because she has the most loving, selfless heart.
God made me average height, with an hourglass figure, fair freckled skin, brown hair and green eyes. I can’t do a whole lot about those things. There’s a lot I can’t change, and shouldn’t want to. But I can exercise and eat well, and take care of my skin. I can fix my hair and put on something nice when I go out with my husband. I can be intentional about my strengthening my faith. I can go out of my way to help others. I can work on being less of a control freak and a perfectionist.
I want to encourage any woman who took the time to read this, you are beautiful and you are loved. You are precious in the eyes of your Creator. And your pureness of heart will always be the most attractive thing about you. Unwavering faith and selfless sacrifice will always be more desirable attributes than a number on a scale or your waist size. A gentle spirit and unbiased kindness will always be more valuable than the color of your skin or the price of your handbag.
Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. (1 Timothy 2:9-10) Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5)