Boys in high school gym class used to call me Ghost. They shielded their eyes from the “glare” of my white legs as I ran around the track in polyester gym shorts. So I learned to be embarrassed by my pale skin, like it’s something to hide. More than two decades later, now when sunscreen is in fashion, I still wonder what it must be like to tan in summer and wear makeup that’s not labeled “fair.”
And let’s talk about my hair—spastic curly, kind of thin, limp and dry. Of course I dream of silky straight Pantene tresses. Over the years I’ve invested probably thousands of dollars in products designed to transform my hair into something it’s naturally not.
Oh, and my feet! I blame my sister. She used to tell me I had guinea pig feet—whatever that means. So now I question my judgment whenever I schedule a (rare) pedicure appointment. I mean, nobody should have to be subjected to these feet. Right?
Should I go on? Because I’ve got lots more self criticism where that came from. Do you, too? What aspects of your physical self do you wish you could change?
A couple weeks ago, I posed that same question to a group of women and asked them each to write down three things they disliked about themselves. Sadly, nobody had trouble coming up with a list. We all think we’re too fat, too skinny, too short or too tall. We can’t stand our ankles, our hair color, our chubby cheeks or pointy nose. I guarantee that for every woman in the room there were three times as many complaints.
So I told them to hold up their lists.
And rip them to shreds.
Because every single word, every grievance we hurl against ourselves—is nothing but a nasty lie.
“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Songs 4:7).
Here are three truths I want you to remember the next time you’re tempted to beat yourself up over your supposed “flaws.”
1. God created you. And God does not make junk. He doesn’t do flaws, do you realize that? Each one of us was designed on purpose and for a purpose by an all-knowing, wonderfully intentional, supernaturally compassionate God. Your nose was his idea. Are you going to argue with that?
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14).
2. You were made in God’s image. Each of us was created to reflect God’s surpassing beauty—which means every time you insult yourself, you insult the One who made you. You wouldn’t call God ugly, would you? Of course not. So you have no right to call yourself ugly, either.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…’” (Genesis 1:26a).
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).
3. True beauty is not external. How we look on the outside has little bearing on who we are on the inside. And it’s the inside that God cares about most. We know this; we teach it to our kids. It’s time we teach it to ourselves, too.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7).
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).
My girls are growing up with a mother who tells them every day how beautiful they are. Not because I think so (although I do) but because God made them that way. And it doesn’t occur to them yet to disagree. Yes, I’m sure the day will come when they’ll face their own gang of gym class hecklers or—heaven forbid—guinea pig comments from each other. But when that happens, I want them to decipher truth from lies. Which means I need to believe it first myself.
There is no such thing as an ugly child of God.
You and I are beautiful, holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12).
So let’s quit telling ourselves otherwise. Amen?