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Who God says I am vs the beauty standards of our culture



Perfect hair, perfect makeup. Flat abs, skinny thighs. Cute outfit, trendy shoes. The beauty standards our culture has created are insane. You don't even have to be on social media to see it; just walking through the halls of my high school opens my eyes to the way "pretty" teenage girls are "supposed" to look or dress.


It's hard not to feel unworthy when you don't look like those girls. It's hard not to want to change the way you look to fit in, to be wanted, to be thought of as a pretty girl.


A few years ago, I would have done anything to be seen as beautiful. To feel beautiful among a million girls I thought were gorgeous, way prettier than me. I tried, I did. I tried to eat less, count my calories, work out in my bedroom. My anxiety about my appearance got so bad that I started clenching my ab muscles constantly, to the point I couldn't breathe. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't mold myself to look the way I thought beauty looked like. It was unattainable, and not only that, it was hurting the way I saw myself even more.


So one day, I decided I was done with it. I was done with trying to fit the beauty standards, because it wasn't worth it. I was missing out, losing my joy, and I was sick of it.


I took out my Bible and started reading. If anyone was going to help me change the way I saw myself, the way I saw beauty, the way I perceived all the messages the culture was sending me, it was Jesus. And man, how He has changed me.


I opened my BIble to Ephesians and wrote down every word that God said about me, about who I was. As I did this, I realized my body did not define me, the way I looked did not determine my value, and what people thought of me did not change who I was in Christ. I realized the stark contrast in the way I described myself versus how God described me.


I saw myself as dirty, He called me holy. I saw myself as unwanted, He called me chosen and predestined. I saw myself as someone who didn't fit in, He called me a part of His family and "included in Christ". I saw myself as unredeemable, unfixable, but He called me clean by His blood. I couldn't see my purpose, but He declared that I am a crucial part of His beautiful plan for eternity. I thought I had to earn my way into God's presence, but He promises that He did all the work, all I have to do is accept His gift. I felt trapped in the world's expectations of me, but He told me that I am made alive and freed. I was afraid that I'd mess up, but He assured me that His grace is there to catch me when I fall. I believed I was ugly, that I wasn't beautiful like the other girls, and that's when He whispered to my heart that He was the one who created me, and that He made no mistake when crafting every piece of my body.


Friends, the God that created the sunrises and sunsets, the mountain peaks and ocean waves is the same God that created you. The God that created the flowers and the butterflies and the rainbows is the same God that created you. And the God that created those girls you keep comparing yourself to? That God is the same God that created you too.


And He sees you as a masterpiece.


Sweet girl, you can stop comparing, stop striving, stop trying to live up to the standards of this world. God created you as you are for a purpose, with intentionality. He created a beautiful, strong, capable person when He created you, and you don't have to change who you are or what you look like because He declares that you are enough through His blood.

 

As I've struggled with my body image and how I treat my body, God has been transforming the way I view food, exercise, and my body as a whole. Scripture says that our body is a temple, meant to be taken care of. I eat to fuel my body and keep my mind sharp. I exercise because it makes me feel good, it strengthens me, and it often leads me to spend quality time with some of my favorite people. My body is strong, capable of so many mind blowing things. And when I stop eating, start working out of the wrong reasons, I'm hurting the temple of God. `


So please, eat when you're hungry. Eat when you're not hungry but it's meal time, because your body needs the energy to function. Move your body. The God of the universe is dwelling within you - keep His home healthy. Stop comparing your temple to someone else's - we are all beautiful, unique, and special, with a purpose. You were never meant to be held up to be compared to standards or to other people - you were meant to live your life joyfully with Jesus as you celebrate all that He's given you (and that includes your body).

 

As I've been working on this post, I know that the words I'm typing aren't from me - they're from God. These are lessons I'm learning right this very moment; in fact, I just caught myself criticizing the way I look, again. The moment I realized what I was doing, this thought popped into my head - why? Why are you criticizing this work of art that God created? You don't stare at the sunrise and go, "God, I think you should have colored this differently." You don't look at the beach and say, "God, this is all wrong! The height of the waves, the color of the water, the texture of the sand, it's all wrong." You don't look at the Mona Lisa and critique it! So why are we doing that to our bodies?


It's hard, I know. I'm learning how to shift my perspective too. But I am so passionate about this. Our lives and perspectives are to be shaped by Scripture, and that includes the way we look at our bodies.


Sweet girl, you are beautiful. You were created for a purpose, and I'm so proud of you.




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