woman choosing face -smallWritten by: Kathleen Dunn

I have never met a young woman who doesn’t struggle with self image. It seems to be the number one concern of young women. Why could this be? Who is telling us we are not beautiful the way we are?

I think this struggle is one that is often majorly misunderstood. From countless Christian and other positive sources, including our mothers, we are constantly fed happy ideas that “our inner beauty is the only thing that matters” and, “we are beautiful in our own ways,” and such encouragements as these. Being a young woman myself, I can testify that, when we are feeling down about our image, these comments can feel absolutely meaningless. Jim Carrey may have said it best in the movie “Liar Liar” when he concludes, “That’s just something ugly people say.”

Now I realize that is a humorous exaggeration, but women often take on a mindset similar to this, feeling that it is only a cover up for the insecurities we feel. This is especially true alongside the even more apparent magazines, celebrities and commercials that picture such beautiful, thin and “perfect” women. It is not wrong to be beautiful, though, so why wouldn’t we desire it?

God made women one of the most beautiful and mysterious creatures of all for a reason. He knows we’re beautiful; He made us beautiful, regardless of the perceived standards of our society. We are allowed to desire beauty and take pleasure in it. It is a part of our nature as a woman. But it is when beauty becomes a vice for us that it is an issue. What I mean by this is, we cannot make beauty make us feel ugly.

Finding this balance is not an easy thing to do. We must embrace our own beauty, and take reasonable pride in it, without comparing ourselves to so called examples of beauty. This may take some time to develop in ourselves, but here are a few practical ways to help along the way.

Steer away from reading fashion magazines. Marketers know what they’re doing. They can’t continue to make money if they make everyone feel satisfied about themselves. They want you to always desire more, so that you will continue to buy more. Magazines set standards of beauty in our minds that are next to impossible to reach.

Look for beauty in people you know. Taking joy in the beauty around you, whether it be in people you admire, your friends, your family, or in God’s natural creation. Doing this will take the focus off the insecurities you feel about yourself, and help you realize what qualities exude true beauty. You’ll end up seeing that the people you find most beautiful aren’t that way because they have perfect hair, teeth, or skin.

Develop your gifts. Discover the things about yourself that you are already comfortable with, and grow in them. If you’re a good listener, let your friends vent to you and have extra trust in you. If you’re good at music, hone your skills and use them in your community. If you’re sociable, make friends with someone you wouldn’t normally talk to. Developing your gifts will help you learn more about the beauty you have, and help you feel confident with who God made you to be.

Wrap yourself up in God.  This is the surest way to find confidence in yourself. As a creation and daughter of the Almighty God, who is madly in love with your entire being, how could you ever feel that you are not a thing of beauty? God doesn’t create garbage. He is Beauty itself. If we bring Him into our hearts and thoughts, Beauty cannot help but shine through us.

I am no expert in self confidence or beauty. I can be just as self conscious about my appearance as the next girl. But these are ways I have found to help me on my journey as a woman, and ways that I’ve seen the women around me become confident in themselves. I pray that you realize that you are beautiful because of the sheer fact you are a woman, because God created you, and that He is madly in love with you, the way that He made you.

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