“This is making your heart ugly,” she said to me as tears streamed down my face, burning my cheeks with red-hot frustration.
Truth is: sometimes being a girl is really hard. In our culture today, we are presented with infinite images of all-too-perfect models. In reality, those models aren’t perfect at all. Their makeup is airbrushed, their skin is spray-tanned and their extra weight—which is really just beautiful womanly curves—is removed with the click of a mouse in Photoshop.
I believe that every girl has at least one self-image issue she struggles with. For me, ever since middle school, I have dreamed of having perfect skin—tan, flawless and smooth. In reality, I was born with fair skin and freckles, and since I was about 16, have struggled on and off with breakouts on my face. The frequency of breakouts has improved as I have transitioned into adulthood (I am now 22), but the self-degradation from want of perfection has not.
This week, I got a breakout on my face—the worst one I’ve had in a few years. Gut. Level. Honest: I freaked out. I spent all morning trying to hide it. Even the most expensive, high-quality concealer on the market could not take away the redness or the bumps. Instead of embracing my inner beauty and knowing what GOD thinks about me, I began to tell myself that everyone at work was going to notice my breakout and think I’m just plain GROSS.
But my mom caught me on my way out the door. She noticed from my body language that I was more than upset. As soon as she asked me what was wrong, I burst into tears. (Oh, how fun it can be to be an emotional girl…)
So we sat down. She not only told me that my breakout was barely noticeable and that she’s seen much worse, but also got even more honest with me. She let me know that for the past few days, I had been walking around with an ugly, self-consumed heart. I had placed outer beauty at the top of my priority list, and when I didn’t achieve it, my heart got even more ugly.
In times like these, the best thing we can do is to first and foremost repent of our self-centeredness. Second, we need to thank God for every good and perfect gift He has given us. For me, this meant making a list of the following: my salvation, my family, my health, my church, my dog, my job, my car, my almost-paid-off student loan, my ability to run and be active, and…my skin. And third, I needed to get into the Word and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me about how beautiful I really am and what really matters.
To any girl struggling with her self image today (maybe it’s not acne, maybe it’s your weight, your hair, etc.), I pray that you will be blessed by these words that follow…
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. ~1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. ~ Proverbs 31:30 ESV
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. ~ Psalm 139:14 ESV
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7 ESV
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. ~ Romans 8:6 ESV