Some blog posts turn in my head for about 13 seconds before it spills out to be shared….
Other blog posts take months before I have words to share, and the bravery to back up what I allow others to see in me.
I was reminded this week of something our Pastor of Prayer says, “Fear is the opposite of love; not anger, but fear.”
It is always interesting when you discover a fear you have carried around for as long as you can remember, but never even noticed that it was there or that you were protecting it so severely.
What is my intensely guarded fear?: My Beauty.
I have been slowly processing with several very patient and diligent friends my thoughts about beauty… or more specifically my beauty. It has been a slow-moving journey to realizing the insecurities I have. But, probably more than that, it is an arduous task of recognizing the walls I have created to try to ensure my heart is not hurt or disappointed.
You see, I do not let people comment on my physical appearance. Meaning, regardless of the comment, good, bad, sweet, rude.. Whatever the comment, I disregard it and protect my heart from feeling or accepting the comment.
It was described to me that it is as though the comments are bouncing off my carefully crafted armor. I wanted to deny it, but the reality is, I am intensely and unrelentingly vigilant in the protection of that portion of my heart.
What I find particularly interesting is that, for as far back as I can remember, I have had this wall built around my heart regarding my physical attractiveness. More specifically, I have been disregarding compliments about my physical appearance my entire life (that I can remember) from everyone… As a young child, my mom and dad (who are amazing parents and people) would make comments to me about my beauty, and I would brush it aside with a laugh, eye roll, sigh or some sort of reasoning that they “had” to tell me these things.
I can point to a hundred different things that added to my reason to protect my heart in this area…
Most of my life I have been (gladly) in the company of guys as their friend and have heard hundreds of times over about how pretty or beautiful my friends are… To which, I definitely agree(d), but I carefully avoided the awkwardness or disappointment of not being seen as beautiful as well.
I have always loved how the martial arts has helped create me to be capable of protecting myself and others. I love practical things so very much, and the martial arts is so practical to me. However, the martial arts certainly added to my already not dainty, but definitely athletic physique that I have only recently begun to appreciate… However, many of the words I have spent my life hearing from men are about how the dainty, tiny, skinny is where beautiful is held.. So, to be effective like I wanted to be, it meant setting aside beautiful things in place of better things.
Then, on the flip side, the times in which men have told me that I was beautiful, I felt like they wanted something from me or worse found out later they had been lying to me and could not be trusted to tell me truth.. or in a couple of instances I felt like the guy wanted to devour me, and I was not safe in their care… So, I protected myself and my heart diligently to avoid any additional damage.
Then, of course people use scripture to point out why beauty should not be something I cared about anyway…
I mean, after all: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30 … And yet, here I am in the depths of my heart unwilling to admit that I still desire to be beautiful. I do NOT want to be vain nor deceitful, so I rationalized that it was better to tuck it all away, and prevent others from speaking into it one way or another. I have spent my life not wanting to know if people thought I was beautiful, and sidestepping every chance I could to avoid knowing.
Throughout my life, I have reasoned that there is no possible way that I am as beautiful as some people have claimed. I rationalize their comments away as purely sentiment because my life circumstances simply do not line up with their nice, sweet or well-meaning comments.
I mean, after all: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” so their perspective does not really mean it is true anyway.
Then, to make an intensely personal and private struggle more complicated, I want to be seen in so many ways… I desire to be dynamic and unique. Full of life and adventure, leaving a trail of joy spilling out everywhere I go, seen as capable, intelligent, knowledgeable, loving, graceful, giving, welcoming, compassionate, and full of kindness.. And always reflecting Christ. I desire these things more than beauty, so I have spent my life focusing on these rather than the “vain beauty.”
But, if I am being totally honest, I want beautiful to be included in the list of things I am seen as too… Yet, even typing that, I feel it sounds vain and conceded. The struggle is very real in my heart.
I also know that sometimes your personality and character add to or detract from your attractiveness. I have long thought that I have the type of personality that makes me more attractive… but that it is sort of like a lens in which you see someone; the perspective is changed because of it, but the object itself has not changed.
Even as I process these thoughts and heart feels out with people, I often set up the rule that they too are not allowed to tell me how they see my physical appearance. It is safer to not know… But, I also do not want fake words, nor do I want reactionary comments.
To be clear, I do not want to be seen as more beautiful than someone else. I want to be my own stunningly beautiful woman that requires no one else to be less.
Because I am not yet beyond these struggles, I am once again going to ask you not to share your reactionary comments about how you see my physical appearance.
Please do not leave a comment out of a desire to make it better, that is not what this blog post is for.
2 thoughts on “Don’t Tell Me I’m Beautiful…”
I appreciate your honesty and openness here. It’s an interesting and introspective look at where you are on this topic, and where many others are. I’m relatively certain as a man, I have somewhat different feelings on my own physical appearance, but I will say I have feelings that are not entirely dissimilar. I can, at least in part, see myself in them. This may be in part because I’ve lost a lot of weight over the past several years and used to be much larger, although I’m not certain. Maybe other men have the same insecurities I do.
That said, I must ask, what exactly is a “reactionary” comment in this context? Is any comment that speaks to your physical appearance alone reactionary? Or do you just mean in reaction to this blog? Or do you mean any comment that is, “unearned” in the sense that you don’t think the person has earned the right to say it? That’s an honest question. I’m just curious.
I love hearing your heart, as always. It sounds like you’re still struggling to define for yourself what beauty actually is, and as you know, the Author of creation is the One who defines that. This is a struggle I think many people face, for various reasons, until we truly see ourselves the way God does, and I don’t say that as an easy answer because it is not nor is it simple. I do think, however, that the answer lies in the mystery of the Gospel. A search to understand I have only really begun myself.