I can still remember the day that I realized all of my friends were tweezing their eyebrows. I was completely appalled. How had I not realized that everyone was doing this now? Why was I so behind? I immediately got home from school that day and started trying to tweeze my own brows, accidentally pinching my skin and making myself bleed, but I felt accomplished and like I was “back in the game”. I immediately got compliments the next day at school about how good my brows looked and I felt relieved to have one less difference between me and everyone else.
My whole life had been a game of trying to keep up with all of the girls who were always way ahead of me and the more I tried to keep up, the more I realized how flawed I was. My legs were too hairy, my hair was too thin, my clothes were often second hand and I was never quite skinny enough. Every day was a reminder that I looked completely different from the other girls in my school. I didn’t have a cute button nose, my feet weren’t small, my fingers were way too long, and the list went on. The only thing that I could find about myself that I actually liked were my eyes and even those were picked on, because I have a small black dot on the iris of one of them (not the pupil) and my eyes are green so it’s kinda obvious. Needless to say, by the end of high school my self esteem was less than zero and my eyes ached with thousands of images of the girls I thought I was supposed to look like.
Now, as an adult, I have realized a few very important pieces of information; things I wish I would have known as a teenager. For starters, the girls at my school DID look pretty similar, but a lot of them were cousins (um, oh…) and I wasn’t related to anyone there. When I was twenty, I traveled to Chicago and for the first time I realized that there are all sorts of people and that I wasn’t actually some kind of unusual specimen. There were other people, LOTS of people, that didn’t have cute button noses and there were people with all sorts of eccentric features that I found beautiful and exotic. And after years of thinking that no one thought that I was beautiful, I found people who did…people who thought I was beautiful on the outside, but more importantly, ones who also liked what they saw on the inside.
As a late twenty-something, I also have come to realize that no one has ever been physically perfect. I know that sounds really simple and extremely obvious but for a long time, I really thought it was just me. Seriously, all of the girls around me seemed so put together and even when I tried to step up my game, I was still so far behind. It’s extremely rare to find someone who will admit their less-than-perfect attributes and that makes it way too easy to start believing that something is wrong with how we look. I had an idea of who I should be in my heart and when I couldn’t match up, I thought I had failed as a human…as a woman.
I don’t have it all figured out and there are days that I really don’t feel my best and I’m not above seeing someone who (in my eyes) appears to be perfect and suddenly feeling self conscious about how I look. BUT shame isn’t my game anymore. When I stopped believing the lie that worth comes from physical appearance, I ironically found my own value. And when I stopped trying to be someone else, I started to like the person that I was.
I am so proud of the women who have begun to step up and out of what society has deemed flawed. And I am choosing to be a part of that. We have an opportunity every single day to help someone else see their own worth…worth beyond what the world has told us makes us enough. Worth that comes from heart and kindness and love and most importantly, from God. It’s SO unbelievably okay for you to not have it all together. It is SO okay for you to have freckles, loose skin, acne, hair, sweat, odor, etc. You aren’t just your body. You aren’t just an idea of a woman. You ARE a woman and you deserve to be you, no matter what the world thinks or proclaims as right. When we let go of our fear, ending the facade that we have been told to hide behind our whole lives, we aren’t just changing our own future, we are creating a future for other women and girls to live in…one that doesn’t exclude reality, but embraces it.
This is my space and I am choosing to live authentically. If that’s okay with you, stick around…if not, maybe find a different place to hang out, because it’s only going to be painfully raw and awkwardly honest here.
All the vibes,