Exposing the Lie about Beauty
‘Maybe if you wore some makeup, you’d be prettier.’
‘Maybe if your clothes were tighter, guys would like you.’
‘Maybe if you weren’t so skinny, you’d be more attractive.’
Unfortunately, these words have escaped from the mouths of people, both men and women, who I loved and looked up to, as well as mere acquaintances who had no business saying such things. Perhaps these things were only said once or twice, but it was enough to root themselves in me and reverberate for years. But I was also confused because, growing up, my Dad had never said anything like that to me. On the contrary, he constantly told me, and to this day tells me how beautiful I am, how much he loves spending time with me, and how happy I make him. I’ve never once felt that I had to earn his love, affection or praise. Nor did I feel I had to be somebody who I’m not. In fact, I am ashamed to say I often got annoyed with him for being so loving and emotionally present. It was only in the last few years that I realized how blessed I am to have a father like him. The concept of God being a loving, present Father was never foreign to me because I had such a great example on Earth.
Since hitting the ripe old age of 20-something, I’ve become the object of frequent questions about my future, specifically in the dating scene. It was as if I had “I’m single and desperate” written all over my forehead because some friends and family members were constantly telling me about ‘this boy’ or ‘that guy’ who I should meet because I am ‘getting older and should start thinking about these things’. Though I hid it well, the mere mention of a potential suitor brought me to the verge of panic. If something actually started to solidify, I would make an excuse and get out of it. Honestly, I was so against the idea of being set-up with someone that I probably would’ve faked death or gone to incredible lengths to avoid actually going on a date. It wasn’t like I’d never been on a date before, so I didn’t understand my own fear. And it wasn’t like the men I could’ve gone on dates with were all that bad, either. They were probably really good, honorable men.
So I did what I always do when I lack understanding; I turned to God and asked Him to reveal to me what was going on inside. What He showed me was a heart that had unconsciously bought into many, many lies. I was afraid to be set-up because I was afraid that if I actually showed up for a date, a guy would take one look at me and run away. Or, being a polite guy, would stay but tell me how I could improve my appearance so I would be more attractive. Where had these lies comes from? Definitely not my father. But they had come from hurts such as being teased in school and noticing how people openly commented on the appearance of others. I had unconsciously bought into the lie that men only cared about what a woman looked like and that her personality and gifts had no bearing. Initially, I regretted asking God to show me this brokenness, because it hurt like mad. All I wanted was to feel better about myself. So whereas before I hadn’t truly entertained them, I started to actually consider the suggestions that were being given to me. I had never really worn makeup before in my life. But, more than a few times, I started to saunter into the makeup aisle at a store and examine what was being sold. Maybe I should start wearing some eye liner and mascara, I thought. The temptation was strong, almost as if I was a teenager again, being coaxed into doing something stupid so that I would fit in with everyone else.
Somehow, I walked out without succumbing. Now, there is nothing wrong with makeup or wearing it, but for me, I knew that it wasn’t going to solve the problem. It would just be a band-aid on a deep wound. If I wanted healing, I had to go straight to the Surgeon – Jesus, the Divine Physician. As a great friend often says, “The answer to every problem in life is to love Jesus more.” So I decided to take her advice. I honestly didn’t know how to feel better and fix my heart, so I simply surrendered it to Jesus. I prayed, “Lord, You’ve revealed my hurts and wounds because You want to heal me. I give you my heart so that You can show me how much You love me and make me whole in Your time.”
I guarantee you that surrendering your heart to Jesus in every situation is pretty much the best thing you can do. This prayer of mine, which I know was fueled by grace, set me on a path of healing that continues to this day. I began by searching through the Bible and was led to passages describing God’s intense love for His people, my favourite being Isaiah 43. I decided to make it a point to look for the beauty in other people around me. Anytime a thought came into my head suggesting I wasn’t beautiful or needed to fix myself, I would think about Jesus smiling and looking at me with love. Little by little, I began to feel happier, more peaceful, and more confident. Visiting Jesus regularly in the adoration chapel catalyzed this, as well as regular reception of the great sacraments our Church offers. God even used friends, both male and female, to affirm the truth in me – that I am beautiful just the way I am, regardless of whether or not I wear makeup. In those moments where a friend would speak up, it was as if God Himself was saying those things to me. Jesus used all of these to tell me the truth of how He viewed me. I am His precious daughter. I have infinite value. I am beautiful.
It’s been such a healing experience, and to this day I am so grateful for what I’ve learned through it. Sometimes I am still tempted to entertain a negative thought about myself, but I know I must immediately remind myself of the truth. As the Lord says in Isaiah 43, “you are precious in my eyes and glorious, and…I love you.”
As women, it can be so easy to buy into lies that we are not beautiful or that our worth is dependent on what people think of us. Anytime you are tempted to believe otherwise, pray this:
“Jesus, show me how much you love me. Help me to appreciate that I am a temple of Your Holy Spirit. You created me in Your image and constantly look at me with tenderness. Show me my worth in Your eyes. Finally, help me to see and bring out the beauty in others.”