You need to fix your hair.” Everyday at recess that’s what they would say.
That was fourth grade, and I still worry about how my hair looks.
Mirror, Mirror On The Wall
So maybe I had some bad hair days. Maybe I was a little chubby and kind of nerdy. But, even though I was okay with that, I could never shake the playground scene. When I got to college, I thought I could put the girls at recess behind me for good. But I grew up with brothers, so moving into a girls’ dorm was a culture shock. But I made it — new friends, bathroom sharing and all. Life was good.
Then I joined the tennis team, kind of by accident. Let’s just say they were desperate, like we’ll-have-to-forfeit-this-match-unless-you- join desperate. So I did. (Oh yeah, the uniform? It was a miniskirt. I was advised to buy spandex shorts. I did. Long ones.)
Suddenly, I was painfully aware of my body. Like, literally painful — I was discovering new muscles everywhere. But also because I had to be okay with complete strangers watching my every move on the court, in a miniskirt. Not to mention being with the thin, sporty girls on my team, who all looked great in miniskirts.
By my senior year, I was in full-swing comparison mode. I lived with some really sweet, gorgeous, stylish girls, and I never wore anything without asking for their approval. I would get dressed and look in the full-length bathroom mirror and yell to my suite- mates, “Does this look dumb?! Can I wear this? Does my hair look okay?” and wait.
If I didn’t hear, “Yeah, that looks super cute,” I would change, not because they told me to, but because I knew I didn’t look as good as they did. Who knows how many outfits I went through. And I won’t even tell you the nonsense that was date preparation. Deliberation for sure.
Occasionally, more often than I care to admit, we would talk about what we hated most about our bodies: too much of this, not enough of that, thighs, arms, legs, stomach, hair. This comparing game was the culture of a girls’ dorm, even at a Christian college. Every once in a while, someone would bring the conversation to a screeching halt with a Bible verse about being created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26, 27) or being made fearfully and wonderfully (Psalm 139). We would be humbled and stop, only to get up the next morning and do it all over again.
Whoa, Hang On, Time Out
Where did we get the idea that we were too anything?
Well, that’s not a hard question. It’s all around us, everywhere we go. Makeup companies and clothing designers make millions by persuading us that we are not beautiful without their product. Then there’s the media. We can’t even go through the checkout line to buy our groceries without being reminded what beauty is supposed to be. By the way, those magazine covers are totally edited in Photoshop! But you already knew that, didn’t you? So why do you keep listening to them?
Because you aren’t fighting the lies with the Truth. What’s the Truth? I’m so glad you asked.
Dove® (the soap makers, not the chocolate company) is endeavoring to show women the truth about their bodies. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, which began in 2004, is working to redefine our society’s understanding of beauty. Using the hashtag #beautyis, they have compiled pictures and videos of women young and old to show them they’re more beautiful than they think. The latest installment of the internet-based project is an eight-minute documentary about the ever-popular selfie, in which moms and daughters were challenged to take honest selfies and recognize the beauty in their own pictures. And it was a success. When they stopped all the comparing, they realized how beautiful they really were. (The video and others in the campaign can be viewed at www.dove.us.)
It’s true! You are more beautiful than you think. Dove’s national campaign is good, but it’s missing one crucial thing: Jesus. And He’s going to blow your mind with this beauty thing. Yeah, girlfriend! It’s about to get all Jesus up in here!
Yes, He Did Just Say That
So here’s the thing. Dove can say whatever they want, and you can choose whether or not to believe them. I can say you’re beautiful, and your mom can say you’re beautiful, and even your husband can, but you still might not believe it. But what if God said it? What if God told you you’re beautiful? Would you believe Him?
Well, He did. The Bible says God made you with His own hands in Christ Jesus. He even calls you a masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10)! He made your entire being. That includes your body, your mind, personality, passions and — I’m going to say it again — your body.
It gets better. In Romans, He asks you to give your body as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). The word “sacrifice” implies that the thing being sacrificed is precious. That’s the very quality which makes it a sacrifice, that it’s valuable. God thinks your body is precious and valuable! Short, tall, thick, thin, straight hair or curly, it’s all precious to Him.
But wait, there’s more! The Holy Spirit has chosen your body as His living room! First Corinthians says your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and you have been bought with a price — the blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Your body was expensive; Jesus Christ bought it to be a house for the Holy Spirit. He must have thought it was worth it. Do you?
One last thing about the Truth. Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). He’s talking about your mind and how it works with your heart (which are both part of your body, by the way). Knowing the Word of God helps you learn the Truth about yourself. And when you know the Truth with a capital T, you get set free.
The Truth is, God made you exactly the way He wanted, and He loves you and considers all of you precious. Truly believing this gives you freedom! You get freedom from the magazines in the checkout line. You get freedom from the number on the tag or the scale. You get freedom from the tennis miniskirt. You get freedom from comparison. You get freedom from the bathroom mirror. You get freedom from the girls at recess telling you to fix your hair.
When you know the Truth about your body and beauty, you get the freedom Jesus Christ offers — to live as the precious, Holy Spirit- home-masterpiece you truly are.
So who are you going to believe? The magazine covers? The bathroom mirror? The girls at recess? Or God, the One who made you and loves you no matter what your hair or anything else on you looks like?