“I don’t think you know how gorgeous you really are,” I told my friend, who I just spent several minutes trying to convince her of her OWN beauty. Really, I thought, How can you be so blind to your OWN beauty?
“I don’t,” she said in her teasing sassy tone that she always gives me.
Despite her teasing tone, I could tell she was speaking her truth. She didn’t know that her own beauty had no limits. She had just shared with me an insecurity of hers that had been eating away at her for years.
And, as a lot of women can probably relate, this insecurity had to do with appearance.
Due to the media and secular society (and dare I say some Christian cultures too), there is an immense pressure for women to possess a stellar appearance. Big eyes, small nose, plush lips, thin waist, yet curvy thighs and chest, no wrinkles, no pimples, no bags under your eyes. These are just a few standards of what most people deem “attractive” for women. It seems pretty impossible to be “perfect”.
Not only are there coercements from our surroundings for women to have a particular appearance, but also to have a stellar performance in achievement. They are only “successful” if they get a career, a master’s degree, have many children, or all 3.
There are many pressures for men too. The “ideal” man is strong, muscular, and tall. They possess a job that saves the world or makes a lot of money or both.
The Bible verse that I often heard quoted at Christian women conferences for girls and teens is from 1 Sam 16:7b: “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”, telling us that beauty is fleeting, like it says in Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
That verse actually used to be my favourite in my early teens. I thought to myself “well then, I might be ugly, but at least I’m worthy of praise” (LOL). I would honestly think that I was better than the pretty girls who didn’t have Jesus or who weren’t as “spiritual” as me. But Paul tells us not to puff ourselves up because we are Christian, but to ONLY boast in what Christ has done for us (Galatians 6:14). I clearly had a lot of humility to learn. (Still do haha!!)
Another verse I heard often at those conferences was from Psalm 139: 14. I am fearfully and wonderfully made by God, so there is no need to chase after worldly success because we are God’s workmanship and He thinks we are amazing and that’s all that matters.
But in this world that values presentation and performance so much, how are we to deal with the rejection of job interviews, dates or even friendships because they didn’t like our hair or how we didn’t look “professional” without makeup or how we weren’t wearing the latest fashion?
I admit I haven’t had an “outward” insecurity for a long time. Not because I think I’m drop-dead gorgeous or something – trust me, I know there are prettier people out there LOL – but actually because I gave up on the world’s standard of beauty a while ago when I realized that it was constantly changing.
For example, It’s super popular now to have a big butt (please no one laugh at what I am about to say lol) and at first I was like, I could go to the gym and lift and do squats like you’re supposed to if you want to grow your glutes. But then I was like, nah – not because I was being, but because my passion is running. I love to run and I don’t have time to do everything, so I wanted to focus on that. And recently, I was watching a movie from the 90s where a girl didn’t want a “fat” or big butt because it wasn’t “pretty”. I was a little surprised by that since in today’s fashion magazines, the “big booty” is all the rage lol, but it just made me realize how the media’s portrayal of beauty really is “fleeting” as the book of Proverbs says. (Not that I think having a skinny butt is necessarily a good thing either, just wanted to clarify that lol).
I have had “inward” insecurities for a long time. I worry that I will look dumb, or stupid. I worry that my ideas or thoughts aren’t smart enough, that they don’t matter. I worry that my personality is too bubbly or too boring or too whatever. And I used to have such TERRIBLE social anxiety because of it (still working on that now, but I’m slowly improving).
So what do we do with all these insecurities? Whether inward or outward, a lot of people have them, whether they realize it or not. It’s what causes people to react too quickly or harshly. It’s what drives pride. How do you work on them or get rid of them?
I recently started a series on insecurities on my YouTube channel, Empowering Creativity. In it, I share some statistics from a poll I took on my Instagram account about what young people, most of them in their 20s, feel they are insecure about. Along with sharing those facts, I talk about why it seems like girls are more insecure than guys in some ways, and why we need to address our insecurities.
You can watch the first video here: