I’ve been meaning to write someting about this topic for a while now. Thoughts about it seem to pop up unexpectedly when I’m at work, on the train, on the bus – wherever. I’m even typing this out on my Nokia phone’s keypad, because the late KTM caused me to miss the 7:40 Transit. (But that’s another story.)
No, I won’t be writing about trains again. Today, I would be directing the pen to this topic called “beauty”. Thoughts about it have been colliding lately with the strains of Bethany Dillon’s “Beautiful” which in turn has been resounding violently in my mind.
I was so unique, now I feel skin deep
I count on the make-up to cover it all
Crying myself to sleep cause I cannot keep their attention
I thought I could be strong but it’s killing me
Does someone hear my cry?
I’m dying for new life
I want to be beautiful, make you stand in awe
Look inside my heart, and be amazed
I want to hear you say who I am is quite enough
Just want to be worthy of love
(Bethany Dillon, Beautiful)
I want to be BEAUTY-ful. Beauty. What does being beautiful mean? A couple of days ago, an officemate came up to me and said, “You look very pretty today. Do you have a date?” I told her, “I look pretty everyday.” Her reply? “Well, you look pretty-er.” Maybe it was the green eyeliner. Or perhaps it was the red lipstick I have taken into wearing. Or it could have simply been the kiss of Daddy God hovering over me.
I wish could tie you up in my shoes, make you feel unpretty too
I was told I was beautiful but what does that mean to you
Look into the mirror who’s inside there
The one with the long hair
Same old me again today
My outsides look cool, my insides are blue
Everytime I think I’m through it’s because of you
I’ve tried different ways but it’s all the same
At the end of the day I have myself to blame
I’m just trippin…
It’s funny. Ten years ago, you would never have elicited an “I’m pretty everyday” response from me. Ten years ago, I felt unpretty. Very, very unpretty.
I grew up being on the pudgy side. That never really bothered me when I was young. Except maybe for the time this kid came up to me and said, “Do you have a pillow under your tummy too?” Anyway, I was comfortable in my skin up until high school.
High school started my journey of insecurity. I kept journals back then. I remember this particular tear-strained entry with the words “I’m fat and I’m ugly” scribbled angrily and repeatedly all over its page. And then there’s this other entry written one dark Christmas eve. In the midst of all the festivities, someone reprimanded me, telling me to lose weight because I was getting fatter and fatter. I went home after all the merrymaking, cried my eyes red, and poured out all my anger on paper.
I went on a crash diet at the age of fourteen.
Looking back, I’m thankful that the whole thing never went to the extremes and never evolved into either anorexia or bulimia. I did get pretty sick though. After days of eating only when I was told to (and barely eating even then), I felt feverish and missed out on a couple of days of school. My fingertips were also turning blue (true story) so I had no choice to but eat again.
I got better after the ordeal. People started to compliment me, taking notice of the shed KGs. I was happy, but not that happy. Truth was, along with all my insecurities, another thing that had drove me not to eat was this obsession with a particular guy. Who, of course, took no notice of me even after my dramatic transformation.
It’s funny. I entered a beauty pageant, won, got the crown, but still didn’t get the guy.
It’s funnier. I entered university and got all these attention from all these other guys… and it was the only time that I realized that I was actually pretty.
But I never really felt beautiful.
Not until the time that I encountered God (okay it’s not as scary as it sounds) and I heard Him call me precious, deeply loved, and…
“For You formed me in my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. ” (Psalm 139: 13-14)
I now live in this reality that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Sure, I’ve re-gained the weight that I lost during that dark period of my high school life. Sure, I’ve got muffintops and unwanted curves. But I’m not going on any crash diet just to please anyone. Because I am secure, comfortable in who I am and what I look like now.
I’m not against healthy eating and proper exercise though. I believe that we should take good care of our bodies because God calls it His temple so – believe it or not – this flesh is the dwelling place of God (1 Cor 6:19). But I believe we should be comfortable with whatever our body types are (so what if I’m huggable – that’s a plus!) or whatever we look like physically.
To every girl reading this post, let me tell you this – you are beautiful. You are beautiful because you are a daughter of the King and He finds you worth far more than the lilies in the field. The Creator of the universe created you, and you are His greatest, most magnificent masterpiece, created in the very image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). Believe it. You are.
Beauty is not something that we generate from the outside, but something radiating from within.
And so I end with this confession.
I am beautiful. : )