There is a problem within the western world that seems to plague a majority of women. That problem is feelings of inadequacy, inferiority and low self esteem based on our appearance. Associated problems all played a huge role in my life from my early teens until around 2007.
Throughout my teenage years I saw myself as being too tall, too fat, too broad, too much of everything that I despised.
I had grown up with an elderly relative regularly putting me down because of my size (I had been ‘big’ from an early age and was 184cm tall by the age of 14) and I was plagued with negative self-talk, low self esteem and a feeling of physical inferiority to others.
In my teens I was continually counting calories, exercising out of fear of gaining weight, and desperately trying to be what I felt I wasn’t – physically attractive. But to me being physically attractive was very strongly linked with liking myself and I believed that only when I was physically attractive would I be able to do this. But what I felt was that I couldn’t possibly be attractive unless I looked like and basically was someone else.
Every morning I would go to the mirror and list to myself everything that I saw that I didn’t like and these imperfections were what I would dwell on all day, every day. This negative self-talk was all-possessing and all- consuming. Aside from my study and music, those thoughts, along with calorie counting, were really all I thought.
I knew the scriptures, such as in Psalm 139 verse 14, which says “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” And verse 15 “my frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place” and I felt great disappointment in God that He had seen my frame since before I was born and still allowed me to be born the build I am.
I also knew well the scripture (in 1 Samuel 6 verse 7) that says “The Lord does not look at look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart” and thought that was all well and good. But somehow it never comforted me and only accentuated to me that man does look at the outward appearance and I interpreted that as meaning that that was what I needed to be concerned about.
The real problem with all of this was that I based my feelings of self worth, and my view of how I felt everyone else saw me, on the wrong thing. I based it on my physical appearance, which is essentially just the ‘shell’ of who I am.
I bought into the lie that what I looked like was who I actually was. That how other people viewed my appearance was what mattered most. That what other people thought of me was the most important thing in my life. But as I have said, it was a lie.
From personal experience I know that your external body can change and warp out of all recognition without the inner beauty of a person being affected. I now believe with all my being that the most important thing that a person should be concerned with is the condition of their heart.
It is not only God that sees the heart when He looks at us. Your inner beauty is something that can not only be seen but can also be felt by others. I believe that in the presence of a truly beautiful person you are not even completely aware of their physical appearance, you can feel their beauty without seeing it. That is what I believe true beauty is.