If Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder, We’re In Trouble

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

We’ve heard it and said it a zillion times.

We talk about how important it is for all people, not just Christians, to keep from judging one another. We live in a world of political correctness where all are supposed to be equal. We fight for respect and acceptance.

But not for ourselves. It seems we can’t grant ourselves the very thing we fight to give everyone else.

Why is it that we can train ourselves to refrain from judging others, but when it comes to what we see in the mirror, we’re our own worst critics?

I recently read a post on marriage and sex on Sheila Gregoire’s blog, To Love, Honor and Vacuum, that made me pause.

(By the way, if you aren’t familiar with her blog, you should get familiar. I think it’s excellent.)

She did a series of posts promoting her new book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, and it she delved into the problem that many women face in the bedroom–accepting their own bodies.

I think I have half-decent self-esteem. I’m okay with myself and the body God gave me. Sometimes. On a good day.

So I was shocked when the challenge on Sheila’s blog that day stumped me.

The challenge was to name five things about your body that you really, truly like.

I couldn’t do it.

I venture to say that there are a very, very small number of women on the planet that can do it, and I’d also guess that most of them aren’t supermodels.

Five. Five things about your body that you can celebrate and be proud of. And things that come in sets don’t count as two.

I’m right there with the majority of women who engage in an unhealthy amount of self-loathing every time they look in the mirror.

And that self-loathing is destroying our relationships–both with our spouses and with other women.

We don’t like what we see in the mirror. We don’t like what genetics, babies, time, and development have done to our bodies. We can’t accept the skin we’ve been given. We want to look like someone else.

We live in a society where beauty is emphasized over character. And that’s so, so messed up.

So, what do we do about it?

Some women turn into recluses, covering themselves from head to toe, hiding. They over-compensate for their looks by drawing attention away from them–covering up, or on the other side, distracting from their looks with funny faces, wild personalities, crazy antics. Then there are those who take matters into their own hands and seek medical correction for the “flaws” they see. Still others, try to “correct” their problems with too much exercise and too little food.

Don’t get me wrong– I think being healthy is incredibly important.

But I don’t think any of these actions are healthy.

I think healthy begins with acceptance. And acceptance begins with learning to like what we see in the mirror, no matter what size, shape, or color we are.

I’m challenging myself and now I challenge you.

Share with me: Can you name five things about your body that you really, truly like?

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20 Comments

Filed under Marriage, Romance

20 responses to “If Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder, We’re In Trouble

  1. Gabrielle Meyer

    Eek! That’s quite a challenge, especially after having twins!! The other day I was cleaning up after my daughter’s birthday party and a balloon popped in my hand. I looked at the offensive, wrinkled, stretched out piece of latex and thought – that’s exactly what happens to the skin of our bellies after we give birth. The once tight skin swells up like a balloon and when it’s deflated it looks about the same. So it is hard to look at that and see beauty. Even after losing the baby weight (okay, after losing most of it), the skin just doesn’t look the same. I’m thankful I’m married to a man who is quick to praise me – but it’s still hard to look in a mirror sometimes.

    • I have so been there, Gabrielle. Looking in the mirror after having a baby is really, really difficult. But holding that miracle makes it totally worth it. Just wish I could remember that all the time. πŸ™‚

  2. Wow, Jenny. Just, wow. Good, good stuff here.

    I don’t think I can do it. And I haven’t even HAD babies yet.

    You’re so right about the self-loathing. I’m at the heaviest weight I’ve ever been and I’ve started trying to get it off, but I fear I’m becoming obsessed with the scale. And that sometimes has the opposite effect it should. Instead of running to God and praying about it, I eat some ice cream, because, hey, what’s the point in trying to lose weight and depriving myself, right? (By the way, I think I’m posting on Monday about this…a book I’ve been reading that’s opened my eyes to the idol I’ve made food…but I digress.)

    I will say that I like my hair. It’s thick and shiny. And my eyes are a good size. I like that my feet are thin and long (even though shoe shopping can be difficult).

    But that’s it. When it comes to the size of everything else and the pale, pale color of my skin, I’m not having it.

    Praying we can all learn to love the body God gave us and keep it healthy in a non-obsessed way!

    • Isn’t it weird? I think I have good self-esteem, yet I can’t meet this challenge either. And I am SO pale, too. πŸ™‚ When I was teaching, my students gave me the endearing nickname of Pale Hale. lol. I accepted LONG ago that I’ll never be tan. That, at least, is one thing I’m okay with.

  3. I like my blue eyes. I have red hair. Okay, HAD red hair. My stylist gives me red hair now. πŸ˜‰
    My calves are almost perfect. Even though I’m far above my ideal weight, I still have good legs.
    I have freckles and I love them!!
    My nose is just the right size.

    The rest? Well, hopefully things will change soon.

  4. Laura

    I’m a mother of 4 beautiful people and Meme to 3 and at 49 I can say “yes” there are 5 things about my body I like πŸ™‚ I’m tall and I’ve always loved that. I love my long legs even when my knees are killing me.I have broad shoulders and a sexy back. I have curves!! I love having curves!! I grew up a ‘beanpole’ finally had to wear a bra after giving birth to my 1st son. I have earned my lumps and bumps, looking curvy and sexy is new for me and my hubby loves them too. I love my eyes and playing them up with make u
    p sometimes. My smile is my best feature, a perfect curve πŸ™‚

  5. Jessica R. Patch

    Such a great post. Five things? I like my eyes, my nose, high cheek bones. Okay so that’s all I can really say without just making stuff up. That’s said isn’t it? I have some thinking to do. πŸ™‚

    • That’s how I felt, Jess, when I couldn’t get to five easily. I surprised me. And made me kinda angry. I always thought I had decent self-esteem. Clearly I have some more work to do.

  6. Great post, Jenny girl. Really got me thinking about what I value about my appearance. So often I tend to focus on those less than desirable areas. And after two babies there is no shortage of those. But when I forced myself to think about what I like I was suprised. Encouraged even.
    -I like the bright blue of my eyes more than I ever knew. When I see them relected back at me from my two boys–theirs are perfect replicas of mine–I realize how beautiful the color is, how crazy it was that I overlooked them so often before.
    -I like how small my hands and feet are. Weird, but something about their dainty quality makes me feel feminine even when I am covered in boogers and spit up and poop πŸ™‚
    -A lifetime of dancing and running gave me pretty nice, shapely legs. Though they are way to short to be truly glamorous.
    -My nose is a good size for my face.
    -Two gawky years of braces were worth it.
    -I have a strange light colored beauty mark on my cheek that I think gives my face character.
    -And I have a rockin’ dimple in my chin just like my Daddy πŸ™‚

    See there! 7! Who knew? I am so blessed to look in the mirror today and not focus on those things that drag me down. Thanks for the boost! πŸ™‚

  7. Lisa Williams

    While I whole-heartedly agree that women are too fixated on their physical appearance and spend their days pining over their imperfections, TRUE self-esteem has to be a combination of acceptance of internal and external features. If you can say, I don’t mind being a little chubby because I’m the funniest person in the room, being chubby
    will have less negative impact on your
    mentality. To be perfectly honest, I can’t even think of 5 things I DON’T like about
    my physical self. I have wide, size 10 feet. Who cares? Can’t change it. Focusing on individual ‘flaws’ (especially those you have no control over) just pokes holes in your overall well-being Psyche.

  8. Loette Kump

    May I just name 5 things I don’t like? That would be a much easier task!! I do like that everything is still working! Besides, who cares? When my husband of 37 years calls on the phone and says “Hey, beautiful!” – that’s enough for me!

  9. bethkvogt

    OK, if I say I like my hazel eyes, does that count as two? I like my smile. I like my long legs. I like how my hair went from straight to wavy for some unknown reason … I like my hands … I use them to write and to talk.
    πŸ™‚
    There. Five — and I really only counted my eyes as one.

  10. Pingback: Women: Let’s Stop Feeling Badly About our Bodies! | To Love, Honor and Vacuum

  11. essenseofebony

    This was tough, but after a while, I came up with 5:
    1. My eyes: they have a natural almond shape and are full and expressive
    2. My teeth: And got them w/o an orthodontist
    3. My Lips:
    4. My height
    5. my smile

  12. I found it interesting that many women struggled with this challenge. I’ve been “making peace” with my body for a long time now, and I rattled off five things in a snap. Believe me, I am NO supermodel. However, if you train yourself to look for the good things, eventually you’ll be able to focus on them more and more. Sure, I still hate that back fat exists in the universe, and much more on my own back, and I keep waiting for the perfect beauty product that eliminates crow’s feet entirely, but those issues are kept in check by focusing on the beauty God has imparted to me. Thanks for focusing women on this challenge again!

    • I was surprised, too, but mostly because I couldn’t meet the challenge easily! Here I was, thinking that I was “all good”, just to realize that I have the same self-image issues as everyone else. But thankfully, God blessed me with parents that raised me to believe that I am more than what I don’t like in my reflection–so much more. I am a child of the King, a wife to an amazing man, a mother to two precious boys, a sister, friend, etc, etc, etc. I do like plenty about myself, both physically and otherwise. I’m just not going to let myself obsess about the few things that I don’t like. Not anymore. What’s healthy is realizing our gifts and using those gifts to glorify the Kingdom.

      We’re all pretty, gorgeous even, when we see ourselves through the eyes of the one who made us. All he sees is love.

  13. Laurie G

    I came to your blog through a link in Sheila Gregoire’s blog… her post today that talked about this challenge that she gave and how hard it was for women to do hit me square between the eyes… and so did this post of yours.

    It’s hard to admit out loud – but yes, there is always a self-loathing conversation going on in my head as I’m getting out of the shower and getting ready in front of the mirror… I look at photos of when I was 20 and a new bride – and the frustration that I don’t still have that figure well up like Old Faithful… and I hate the fact that I didn’t recognize how thin I was at the time!! And really – after 3 children and 23 years later… it’s ridiculous to think that I’ll EVER be that size/shape again! I know that in my head… but my heart & emotions are having a hard time letting that sink in.

    Since November I have been attempting to be more intentional about exercise and watching what I eat… and what I’m finding is that the Lord has me on a journey that has WAY more to do with my heart, my mind, and my soul than what my body looks like! I am super thankful that I have been able to lose 12 pounds… but the weight that is being lifted internally feels like hundreds more.

    THANK YOU for posting – for talking about this – and for the challenge!!!

    • You are so welcome. I don’t care who you are–if you are female, at some point, you’ve looked in the mirror and wished you could change something about yourself. I think being healthy, eating right and exercising, are so important. I applaud you for doing that!! Keep it up! I know that as you continue to “shrink” in some ways, you’ll be growing by leaps and bounds in others. That’s the way it always seems to work.

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