The other day a dear friend asked me if overall I was happy with my body. I replied yes. Of course there are things that could use more attention or improvement, areas that aren’t perfect, but I’m happy with my body overall.
At first when I responded to my friend’s question, I jokingly said that “well, I listen to a lot of music talking about hot our bodies are…” which is true, but I don’t think that is nearly as affirming as the specific appreciation from loved ones.
As I’ve thought about that question since she asked, I thinking about why am I comfortable and happy with my imperfect body. As I thought about it I realized a lot of it is largely credited to the influence of my loved ones who’ve been very declarative and specific in their appreciation for me, all of me, my heart, my failures, my body, my hopes, my weaknesses, me, just me. My friend Amy whose voice I hear in my head when I put on makeup and when I don’t saying “you’re beautiful Katee, you don’t need make-up.” Which is so freeing because I’ve learned to like looking at myself in the mirror without makeup but also enjoying make-up, freely. My friend Michael who has told me how gorgeous I am, interrupting my insecurity admissions midsentence to tell me in a way so convincing and serious that I would be insane to contradict him, and silly to not take to heart his words. My second mom and dear buddy Lulu who not only laughs with me at the outlandish things I say and do, but has also affirmed my womanhood in encouraging both cute as well as hott outfits, complimenting my figure and encouraging me to wear more form fitting clothes. Poppa Dale who has not only told me that I have gotten more beautiful since he’s known me as well as pointedly going out of his way to write a beautiful card telling me with that kind fatherly tenderness how stunning I was at our friend’s wedding. And of course many more, because my friends are awesome and their intentional with their words of love and praise. And some of them kiss more than an Italian family at a wedding, so if their words don’t get you then their hugs and kisses will.
In scripture God tells us that he knit us together while we were in our momma’s tummy. My mom use to tell me this all the time, she always encouraged individuality in giftings and beauty, and I now see, this has been the groundwork for much of my life. There can be so much striving and comparison among girls especially, instead of stewardship and appreciation for both ourselves and each other. But this doesn’t just happen. I think that beauty is something that God has created women to long for and to be nurtured in them. Beauty comes from within to be sure, but is also something to appreciated and nurtured on the exterior. In the times of the Old Testament, the process of beauty for women was, well a lot. That said, attention given but not an obsession, which can often be the way of it in our culture.
All the folks I listed above said these things to me after either living with me or living next door to me, seeing the good, the bad and the ugly, but still these were their sentiments. I don’t think we have to be “all done up” and in our best to embrace the beauty that God has created us to carry, though that is nice, I think the beauty that He has created within us is not so dependent on our rockin’ body or fabulous hair day, but something that comes through more powerful than those things alone. But that’s another article.
I remember hearing the adage concerning how we walk into a room to be of the mindset “oh there YOU are!!” instead of “oh here I am.” And I believe this is helpful in truly noticing the beauty in each other, expressing an appreciation for that beauty and calling it out. If we are so focused on our insecurity, our need for affirmation, the cycle will continue and we will be too caught up with our own reflection to ever affirm the beauty in those we love so dearly.
I want to encourage my friends honestly and truthfully and for them to feel how wonderful and beautiful they really are. No flattery, but the truth.