"Here are all of the exercises I need to do every single say so I can get my ideal weight."
"Look at this girl- isn't her body perfect?"
"I can't wait until I can fit into this outfit."
"I wish I could look like her."
Being healthy is good. Taking care of your body is good. Being in shape is good. However, I felt like things had gotten beyond the idea of "being healthy." (Whatever that is - considering each of us have our own bodies and "healthy" is going to look different for everyone.) The message I was seeing beyond wanting to be "in shape" was..
I am not good enough.
Around the same time one of my blog friends wrote a post about her issues with weight and beauty. How her mother never felt she was thin enough. How she was constantly obsessed with being sure she looked perfect. How it came from a never ending cycle that had been in her family for years. The thing is - if you looked at this girl, you would know that she is drop dead gorgeous. Inside and out.
It's not just about being "thin" though. We've all seen the memes that are along the lines of:
I understand where these memes are coming from. I get it - I really do. It's encouraging women that they don't have to be sticks to be beautiful. As a girl who is not a stick- I appreciate this. However...
What about that girl who is naturally thin and no matter how much she eats and tries to gain weight people still tell her that she needs to have a sandwich? Is she not a "real woman?"
What about the girl who in "supermodel world" would be an ideal height- but is still a teenager and towers over everyone she sees in class and gets made fun of for it?
Because I hate to break it to you - but all women are real women whether they have curves or not. It's not like the skinny girls are just pretending...
Then even beyond weight - there are countless things women want to change about their bodies. White girls get tans to look darker and more exotic while black girls bleech themselves because their complexion is darker than Beyonce's. They dye their hair different colors. Put contacts in their eyes so they have have shades that are more appealing or striking. They get implants or reductions to different parts of their bodies. They freeze their faces with Botox. Today we hear about girls barfing up their lunches so they can be thinner while back in the days of Marilyn Monroe women stuffed themselves to gain weight so they could have her curves. In the late 19th century women were obsessed with bustles because they were comparing their body shape to a woman with "curves" who was in the circus. (Not even joking.)
All of them - and I really do mean ALL OF THEM - tall, short, thin, curvy, whatever you want to call them - want to be seen as beautiful. In the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge they talk about how all women want to be beautiful. It's something that has been in their hearts since childhood.
"Remember twirling skirts? Most little girls go through a season when they will not wear anything if it does not twirl (and it is sparkles, so much the better.) . . . Once dressed, they dance around the house or preen in front of a mirror. Their young hearts intuitively want to know they are lovely. . . . Verbal or not, whether wearing a shimmery dress or covered in mud, all little girls want to know."
I've been thinking about twirling skirts a lot lately. I teach a small Sunday school class and I have four regular elementary school girls who come every week. The last few weeks they have taken to spinning and twirling around to the worship music as they sing along. They love to show off their skirts and dance moves as they worship. What happened to us when we used to love doing things like that? If I were to go into a room full of adult women and suggested spinning around and dancing - they all would probably look at me like I had three heads. They don't want to look silly.
Yet, they want to be lovely. They want to be beautiful. I know of some strong young women who are some of my closest friends. When you first meet them, you probably wouldn't think that one of their biggest desires in life is to be beautiful or pretty. Yet, as you get to know their hearts - some of the largest holes is because they haven't been told and showed how pretty and beautiful they truly are.
I'm not just talking about outer beauty where we can fit into our "skinny jeans" or when people compliment us on our new hair style. But a beauty that is far deeper than that.
"We desire to possess a beauty that is worth pursuing, worth fighting for, a beauty that is core to who we truly are. We want beauty that can be seen; beauty that can be felt; beauty that affects others; a beauty all our own to unveil."
It's a beauty that is simply because of who they are. Think about the truly beautiful women in your life. Are they beautiful just because they dress well and have their make-up done well. They are beautiful because there is something inside of them that overflows out of them.
Women want to know that they have an innate loveliness that makes others want to fight for them. To pursue them. To want them.
One of my friends told me she was struggling with this lately. Then yesterday at church the pastor started to talk about when a husband tries to tell his wife she is beautiful as she steps out of the bathroom in the morning. She doesn't believe him.
He tells her again.
Still doesn't believe him.
This goes on, and most men would just give up.
Then the pastor told his congregation - THAT IS HOW GOD SEES YOU. The thing is - he doesn't give up on trying to tell you.
Girls - you are beautiful. Don't forget.
Guys - tell a woman she is beautiful today. Even if she doesn't believe you or you think she doesn't need to be reminded - because she does.
And for laughs... and to kind of prove my point...