Young woman, I am so sorry.
The world you are growing up in WILL, if you let it:
- strip away your God-given unique beauty (and yes, I am including the freckles, big feet, hook nose, birthmark, broad shoulders, etc… in those words, “unique beauty”).
- teach you to perpetually alter your posture or camera angle so that anything deemed unflattering goes unseen.
- teach you to adjust who you actually are into the image that you have been led to believe that others desire to see.
- encourage you to present the sexiest version of yourself, as if it is your sexual appeal which determines your value… as if it is your physical form which is the most important thing about you.
- teach you how to do your make-up so that you cease to look like you, and start looking like a generic, photo-shopped mannequin of a person, with no pores, melanin, or hairs out of place.
This world will seek to convince you that the Sovereign God who created every flower and contour of this world made a mistake when He formed the shapes and colors of your eyes, cheeks, jawline, and nose… when He gave you your skin tone and hair color and bone structure.
This world seeks to teach you to believe that IT knows better than your Creator what you should look like. And that ultimately, what you look like is not OK.
And I am so sorry.
Oh, yes, it happened “in my day” too. It happened in Jane Austen’s day. It happened in Esther’s day.
But the speed and pressure with which it occurs now is frightening to me. Because, without active resistance, the place where all of that pressure, and all of those airbrushed images, and all of those messages converge will be IN YOUR GOD-GIVEN HEART.
Young woman, let me encourage you to actively, intentionally resist.
Without resisting these messages, that soft, fleshy place that God gave you to sort out truth from lies will become a place that torments you from the inside and feeds you lies that diminish the unique beauty God gave to you.
WANNA HEAR THE TRUTH?
Do you know– I mean, know– KNOW down to the depths of your soul:
- that you are fearfully and WONDERFULLY made?
- that, no matter what you look like on the outside, God sees you exactly as you are, and HE is the One to whom you will give an account.
- that, far greater than an outward beauty, is an inward beauty which comes from gazing on the sacrifice of Christ and being conformed to His image?
Are you able to cast off those cultural messages and embrace this truth of God? It’s hard… I know it is. But do you believe it? That your inner beauty is infinitely more important than your outward appearance?
Do you see the wisdom of God in the differences in our noses? Or our toeses or elbowses? 🙂
The shape of our lips and the size of our hips?
He is so infinitely wise & He has designed you, just the way you are. The variety of noses and toeses and hips and lips SCREAM of His creative power and sovereign arrangement of the entire universe.
The way you can best glorify God is to be the way He made you.
The most beautiful you can be is to be the woman He made.
SO WHAT ABOUT MAKE-UP?
I wear make-up. Don’t take this as a post dogging make-up. But if you use make-up, prudently use it to look like you. I have 3 items of makeup that I wear (when I wear it), and it takes me under 3 minutes to put on. I know godly women who wear more or less than that.
It is not so much using it that matters. It is the PURPOSE that matters… the WAY THAT IT’S USED.
As you put on make-up:
- Consider the effect you have on you — Are you convincing yourself, daily, that you need more and more prep and primping just to be attractive and “presentable? And that you can’t go out or be seen without it? — and
- Consider the effect you have on others. — The more you wear, the more you are working (even unintentionally) to convince others that they, too, need to join this culture of contortion in order to look dramatically different from how God has made us.
Please don’t live under the pressure of making yourself over to look like someone utterly different.
Please don’t believe that erasing your uniqueness is beautiful.
Plastic people, in layers of fraudery, contorted into non-realistic positions, do not actually exist.
Even when they snap the picture, they don’t actually look like that in the flesh.
When the layers of make up come off, the fake lashes are washed down the drain, and the spanx are peeled off and back in the drawer, what they are left with is the same as what all of us have: a soul that is growing in one of two directions– either more beautiful, more like Christ, or more selfish, more ugly, and less like our Savior.
Much more important than the shape of your nose or size of your eyelashes is the shape and size of your SOUL.
THREE PIECES OF GOOD NEWS
(1) One good thing that I see coming from this plasticization of the world around us is this: the inward spirit of a godly woman becomes infinitely more precious and rare. When a fake outward form becomes the standard of beauty, the rare inward beauty of God’s woman can shine all the brighter.
When we, as women who all look outwardly different from one another come together to grow in Christ, let me tell you the beautiful thing that happens. Each unique outward expression of God’s amazing, infinite creativity, becomes conformed NOT to an outward picture of ever-changing, opinion-based beauty, but instead conforms INWARDLY to the perfect, unchanging, incomparable image of Christ.
It is astounding! While the world expects outward conformity, the way God asks us to change is inwardly. And His way is possible no matter your age or physical form!
(2) God put you in exactly this place at exactly this time. Acts 17:26 says, “From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live.” There is peace in that, isn’t there? God means for you to be right here, in this ridiculous and contorted culture, shining as brilliant lights that show the world what TRUE beauty is all about.
(3) Though it’s hard to believe when you are 17 and feel invincible, your outward appearance will waste away. This is actually a good thing to come to terms with. But 2 Corinthians 4:6 offers us great encouragement: “we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”
I’m 35 today. Maybe twice your age. And you know what? My outward appearance is starting to waste away. It’s happening. Look at the evidence (I took this make-up-less pic of the multiplying lines on my face just for you) —–>
But I am more…
… and hear me: YOU ARE MORE…
…than what is outwardly true about us.
Whatever’s happening outwardly, inwardly, if we are in Christ, we are “being renewed, DAY BY DAY.” More like Christ. More joyful. More wise. More filled with the depths of His word.
As we look less to the things that are seen, and more to the eternal, even after our youth and beauty fade, we are made more beautiful EACH day!
- Will you knit your heart to this truth and reject the messages of the world around you?
12 thoughts on “Young Woman, I Am So Sorry.”
Jess, this is fantastic. Thank you!
Thank you for your post! As a mother of three girls I worry about when they are older! I do hope they are able to get moe confidence in their value and appearance from their Dad (I think I was very insecure because my own Dad wasn’t in the picture). I also wanted to mention another scary thing for girls are the rampant eating disorders. I taught at a Christian school and was mortified when a 7th graders parents came to me and said when she asked to go to the bathroom she was trying to throw up :(. May God protect our daughters hearts and minds!
Truth. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look nice, but when you think about your looks more than you think about anything else and when the standard is set by people who don’t know or care about you, then things are whacked. 🙂
Great thoughts! I too have been trapped by thinking “if I were just prettier/thinner then everything would be better”. I actually quit dieting/weight obsessing a year and a half ago (I’m 34) and went to Christian counseling. It was so hard in the beginning but now that I have balance in that area I feel so free. Jesus sets us free from having to prove ourselves in the world! Also, it is hard to focus on loving others and God’s call for our lives if we are putting lots of energy into our appearance. I want to be a godly woman not a woman desperately trying to hold onto being 20 years old. Focus on your identity in Jesus now young ladies and you will reap many benefits as you age.
Jennifer, this right here is brilliant:
“I want to be a godly woman not a woman desperately trying to hold onto being 20 years old.”
Exactly on-point. The inside of our hearts is the only REAL thing we can hold onto as we age. The outside will wrinkle, crumble, spot, and fade in beauty, but our inside is what we get to take with us into eternity– the only thing that REALLY lasts!
Great post! It’s hard to live in this world, and not be bombarded with what we should look like.
Thankfully, knowing that God designed each of us, and that we’re beautifully and wonderfully made by Him, we can look in the mirror, and be truly happy and thankful.
I think one big issue that wasn’t addressed in this post was the effect on husbands. I have seen posts all over the topics of beauty, various styles of clothing, etc., and some of them even say that wives should try to be pretty/attractive for their husbands. In cases where the author cares about God and righteousness, the call to be attractive to the husband is usually a tepid recommendation. Frequently beauty is only defined in “inward” terms, and husbands are left as acting shallow, unspiritual even. The thing I wish would be addressed is why a woman would want to be attractive to her husband. Is make-up something that a husband should never have an opinion about? I realize we live in a carnal world, and the cultural tendency is to be immodest (extravagant) or indiscrete (indecent) in order to get attention, but even then, women may benefit from examining motives. Personally, I wish my wife thought enough of me to wear earrings, or paint her nails, or put curls in her hair. She *might* do it if I tell her to, but it makes me feel low to be considered a shallow pain in the neck. Attitude and motivation with respect to husbands are a big issue that I hope more people will address candidly.
Well, one reason I didn’t address the effect on husbands is because I was purposefully writing to young women, as in, unmarried teens & young adults. But thanks for adding your thoughts.
Oh, and I think you should find a way to gently, lovingly compliment the things you appreciate (physically/attraction-wise) in your wife so that perhaps she might grow in her understanding of what you appreciate.
In some ways you need to be sensitive to the heart of your wife, but the things you mention aren’t big deals. This isn’t the same as telling a wife, “I’d sure appreciate it if you’d be fit and go to the gym.” Go buy her a pair of earrings and put in the card, “I thought these would look wonderful on you.” Or get her a gift card to the nail salon and send her out to have it done on a Saturday morning if that’s important to you. Some moms get in ruts, but I’ll bet you can, if you work, find gentle, loving, and encouraging ways to let her know that you appreciate it and find it delightfully attractive when she does _____x, y, or z______.