Body Image - how do you feel about you?


Whilst commenting on a photograph of my little niece who has amazing long healthy curly hair, I remembered my own hair troubles at her age. As soon as I had hit 13 years old and could get my hands on a hair straightener there was no turning back to curly Sue. With this in mind I commented:



“For the rest of her life there will be people wishing they could have her curls, and for the rest of her life she will probably be straightening them out! Hope not! Lol”



It got me to thinking... why do we always want what we cannot have as far as our appearance is concerned? There has to be more to it than that cliché. When I was a little girl I never even noticed hair. I didn’t see curly or straight, brown or blonde, in fact the only thing I noticed right up until I was about 9 years old was if someone had a big shiny bald head. I never took a second thought to what my own hair looked like, or why I was always the only girl in school with ringlets and everyone else had smooth tame hair while mine was frizzy and wild. I was just me, frizz and all. It was only once I started high school and girls and boys started calling me names like “rat-hair” and “frizzbomb” and started telling me to “go brush your hair” that I started to develop the mindset that curls = BAD.



It didn’t take long before peer pressure and the desperate desire to fit in overtook me and after a trip to the hair salon (birthday present) and one ambitious hairdresser with some spare time and a hair straightener, I was transformed into a smoulderingly fabulous 13 year old with silky smooth model-like tresses. Suddenly, I went from a gangly 13 year old who looked like a 9 year old, to a socially acceptable, apparently somewhat attractive 13 yr old who could pass for her age...just. When I walked into the classroom the next day, proud as punch of my new hair, full of new found confidence that had been long gone since I had started being teased, I half expected a complement from someone! But instead the first thing I got was the class clown should really loudly the second I walked in the door “Ooh look! Curly Sue found her hairbrush this morning and actually used it!” after the roar of laughter diminished, so did my newly found confidence. Fighting back tears as the boys behind me said “Chris wants to go out with you now...NOT!” and so on. I thought to myself, “Someday I wont care what they think. Someday being called rat-hair and tiny-titties and minga and skinny Minnie and loser and ugly wont hurt me. Until then I just have to pretend it doesn’t!” Its memories like that which make me so glad that my children have the Lord to confide in (I found Christ at 19 yrs old) if they ever come up against bullying and image issues. But hopefully, with our attentive parenting they wont have to face quite so nasty an experience.



Looking back at this I just think to myself how I would have handled it now. Wow would it have been so easy to handle if I was who I am today! Now I can say that I am happy to be me. Now I feel comfortable, in fact, somewhat brilliant in my own skin because I know, we are all made to look different, be different, talk different, dream different. I know its a cliché to say that we are all unique but it is so very scripturally true!

Luke 12:7
“But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

Ps 139:14

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. “

What a blessing to know that every single part of who we are was deliberately and carefully crafted to be that way. You are not a mistake nor is any part of your body!

Now that I am older and over what other people think of me, I embrace my curls and have learned how to look after them. People always tell me I look better that way than when I used to straighten it. When I wear the colours I really like instead of whats in fashion, I feel better, look better and get more complements than any other time.

Ladies (especially young girls reading this) don’t you dare hide how God has created you! If your hair is dead straight then you flaunt it and put some shining serum in it and just love it! If you have curls, get your curl on! Let them loose like theres no tomorrow! If your pale, don’t get yourself sunburnt trying to tan your skin, and believe me, there is nothing worse than looking like an oompa loompah so seriously do not bother with spray tanning, it does not look good. AT ALL. Even if cosmo magazine tells you it does! Just moisturise your porcelain skin and show off the classic beauty you have! Are you dark and want to be whiter? WHY?! Dark skin is beautiful, has a natural healthy glow and all it needs is a little shimmer to look simply amazing!

I remember reading a worldwide survey which was the stereotype of the “Perfect Woman” according to society. There were some close runner ups but the main combination from memory was: Blonde, tiny waist, large breasts, tanned (but not dark) skin, i think the expression used was “sunkissed”, long waist length, shiny, wavy hair, thick and full lushous lips, big and preferably blue eyes with long thick lashes, slender shoulders, firm stomach, long legs and a curved back. The hollywoods idea of a perfect woman imprinted into societys easily mouldable minds. Guess what?? SHE DOES NOT EXIST!! Firstly, its almost impossible to have ALL of those features unless you have had excessive cosmetic surgery. For example, someone with naturally massive lips is highly unlikely to have naturally huge eyes also, and if they did theyd look like a blowfish anyway!

Just a note to emphasise the falsehood of the media and their sick body image manipulation; do you realise that the majority of photos of celebrities are airbrushed to perfection? In real life, most of the women look just like you and me...normal. It is only with a motherload of money that they can look so much “better” or more groomed than we do. Imagine if you their cash, money and stylists at your beck and call. Would make it pretty easy to look super all the time wouldn’t it? You see when you look at it realistically, anyone can have the look with enough money and attendance. But who has the time for all that materialistic rubbish? Id rather focus on what the Lord deems important than what the world does.

To those who are constantly striving to look the way they think they should because they have been brainwashed by the media:

STOP TRYING TO LOOK LIKE (INSERT CELEBRITY YOU WISH YOU LOOKED LIKE HERE) AND START TRYING TO BE THE BEST YOU THAT YOU CAN BE!

Your never going to look as poised as Nicole Kidman in a fitted dress because her poise belongs to HER. Your never ever going to have the lips of Angelina Jolie because they are HERS (apparently they are real via childhood photo’s my niece showed me in one of those horrible magazines). You’ll never have the curves of Scarlett Johanssen or whatever her name is, the tan of Jessica Alba or the smile of Jessica Simpson or the eyes of your best mate or the legs of your next door neighbour...because you aren’t them!! YOU ARE YOU! Embrace who you are and how you look! Learn to look after what youve got and enhance the things that make you beautiful.

Every single person, no matter what they look like has something completely beautiful about them that nobody else has. Find it, appreciate it, and be proud of it. I jumped off the daily-hair straigtening wagon and feel great with my natural curls. I stopped wearing things just because they are in fashion. If it doesn’t suit you, its doing more bad than good, plus its pretty hard to find something in fashion nowadays that has a sense of modesty to it.

If you read fashion/girly magazines, please stop!! Not only is it full of all kinds of gossip and promiscuous filth but all these mags do is teach you how to hate yourself more and more. They are filled with unachievable, empty promises, bad advice and only make you feel inadequate. Dont think so? Why do most of the teens these days wear the makeup, shoes, outfit, perfume, hairdo or jewellery that they do? Most of the time its because the media told them to. They wont admit that, they don’t even realise it. But they are being shaped and formed into exactly what hollywood wants. Mini-celebrity wanabes. They of course are creating lots and lots of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ opportunities for the fashion and television industry which gets pumped back into brainwashing us even more. The magazines and tv shows convince people that they MUST have this or must have that and its simply a load of rubbish.

Now I'm not saying that we cannot get tips from the “experts” but that is all it should be. A bit of info here, a tip or two there. Not an “oh my gosh i HAVE to have that in my wardrobe to keep up with this seasons fashion!” or “Oh if my hair doesn’t look good in this new cut ill just DIE!” Kind of attitude. Its not healthy to be that bent on image, and not good.

It affects us more than we may think. Each and every time you say “how do I look”? or “is the back of my hair neat?” or “do my shoes match this dress?” or “what should I wear there?” What your really asking is, “Am I presentable enough according to the worlds standards?” Let’s face it, we all do it, at least occasionally. We all want to look and feel great! But lets just zone in on why. Remember to do  it for yourself. Nobody else. Actually, scratch that, you ought to want to look nice for the same reason you do everything else... the glory of God! There are two elements in which we ought to keep in mind when we focus on our image. Pleasing the Lord and pleasing our husband.

I personally dress well and make an effort to look presentable because I believe that as a representative of Christ on this earth I ought to look like one of His children as well as act like one. I want people to see me as someone who knows their worth, who presents well because I have that confidence that comes from God. Plus my husband appreciates my effort and I also feel good when I'm well presented. And when I say well presented, I do not mean “Sexy” or even “polished” I mean that I am neatly, modestly, hygienically looking after myself best I can. I choose clothing that flatters me but doesn’t make a spectacle of me. I keep groomed for my husbands sake.

Why do you wear what you wear and do what you do? Are they good reasons? Or are you just a slave to the world of fashion and beauty?

If you realise that you need help in this area but have no idea where to start, here is a little guide to get you going J

Start by:

Ø  Getting into your wardrobe and throwing out or giving away all the rubbish you only bought because it was a “must have” item but really doesn’t suit you (A close friend will be honest if you cant tell for yourself).

Ø  Find out the colours of makeup that suit your skin-tone, eye and hair colour instead of wearing whatever you saw advertised on max factor ads or MAC billboards.

Ø  Write out a list of things that you like about yourself...or could like if you knew how to embrace it.

Ø  Look for ways to follow through on those things and features on the list. Remember who your presenting yourself for.

Ø  Be honest with yourself about why you present yourself the way you do and if it needs to change, make it happen! Be sure to repent of any sinful motivations and make a fresh start.

Ø  Forgive those who have put you down and move on. Unforgiveness only keeps you in emotional chains.

Ø  Do ask for help if you need it. Its not being vain, and its not going to make you look stupid. Its going to set you free!

Ø  If you cant see any good in your appearance, ask those close to you, those you trust, to tell you. They will be able to tell you straight away what your best features are, or the things they see that suit you the most.

Ø  Next time you go to buy clothes, try them on first, no more grab and runs. Make sure you are buying them because you feel and look great in them! Not because you saw it in a magazine or that everyone else is wearing it and you think you need it.

Girls, its time to win back some dignity, its time to bring hope to all the younger girls who are to come after us, its time to get educated on what the world is brainwashing into us, so that we can educate others. It's time to see the value in the creation that is YOU... its time to EMBRACE the way you were made to look! Nobody can look as amazing as you can in your own skin. Others may try and fail, but only YOU can succeed in looking YOUR PERSONAL BEST.

Be set free from the mindset of “socially acceptable” and discover your own style, your own look, yourself. Who are you? What do you look like when you are being and dressing as yourself according to the words standards? Welcome the real you into the light and start being magnificently you right now!

Of course it doesn’t stop at appearances, thats just the surface, literally, but we will talk about that, another time!