I don't wake up like this

SELF | 9 mins

If you think you’re ugly, you’re right.

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Let me be clear. I don’t think you are, but I think sometimes you think you are.

I know that’s not a statement that is easy on the ears. But be honest for a moment.

What kinds of thoughts pop into your mind when you look in the mirror?

How many times have you received a compliment and your knee-jerk reaction was to deflect or dismiss it?

What about those pictures you get tagged in that leave you wondering if the friend who posted it secretly hates you because who in the world thought that was a good angle?!

Your friend is over there effortlessly shining, looking like JLo’s doppelganger. Meanwhile, you’re working hard to get that perfect pose and still end up looking like Shrek’s boo, Fiona. Or at least, that’s how I have felt way too many times.

How did our minds even get caught up in this tornado of judgments about our beauty?

I don’t know when that first self-critical thought entered into my head, but I can tell you that for the longest time, the endless chatter just felt normal to me. I didn’t even think it was possible to not hear the familiar script in my mind:

“You’re fat.” “What’s wrong with your face?” “I wish I looked like her.”

It just felt normal. Not good, but normal.

And though the mirror was not my friend, I didn’t even need it to hate the way I looked. I just looked at other women and compared myself to them. Other women were constant, in-my-face reminders of what I thought I lacked.

And don’t get me started on media images and celebrity culture. Beyonce telling me “I woke up like this” is not helpful. I’m over here asking if she has special sheets that I can buy so I can wake up like that too.

What’s also not helpful is people telling you to look in the mirror and start loving what you see, like that just happens after you click your heels three times. Lies. If that has worked for you, congratulations and please share that step-by-step breakdown, but for 99.9% of us, it’s not that simple.

Some days I might have felt like I was looking fierce and could high-five myself in the mirror. But then I would take a picture, and within seconds, my confidence plummeted as I saw myself looking like that again.

And what about the people who say beauty is only skin deep? First of all, what does that even mean? It could just be me, but I feel like the majority of them don’t actually believe that. In fact, ladies, if a man tells you your arteries and lungs are hot, I need you to exit that room real quick.

Then there’s everyone who comments so freely on the outside beauty of others. I have been in many conversations with male friends who would exclaim about the beauty of my friends, and my measuring stick would pop up. I wondered if any man ever talked about me in that way.

Then there’s social media. Quite honestly, part of the reason I stopped using it so much is that I don’t have enough emotional energy to spend scrolling through pictures of beautiful people, in beautiful spaces, living their best Instagram selfie lives. I know it’s not the full and true image being projected, but even snapshots of perfect poses and false realities are enough to blur my vision, pushing my idea of beauty way off the edge.

My point is that comparison = a hot mess. It’s literally the worst.

But one day I began to wonder: Why do I even care? Why do we care?

We’ve become convinced there is a standard of beauty. Many of us have exhausted ourselves trying to reach it. Sometimes it’s blatant and obvious. But often it’s subtle, regularly subconsciously telling us that our value comes from how attractive we are or aren’t. We care because beauty is praised. We care because pretty women seem more wanted. Life seems easier if you’re attractive. Life seems depressing if you’re not.

But what if all of that is a lie?

We have been told that parts of ourselves have more value than the whole, so we work on highlighting fragmented pieces of our bodies. We try to hold onto the youth of our years because we are told that she was prettier, thinner, better back then. We are surrounded by retouched reflections of others so we filter to present a polished and supposedly more attractive version of ourselves too.

What’s so messed up is that this standard is one that cannot actually be maintained even if you reach it. The minute that you detox and botox your way into what feels perfect, a new standard is set. We feel less than again. So we restart the cycle—setting goals for moving targets that we can never hit.

Feels cruel right? It is, and it is very intentional.

I don’t know what you believe about God, but I believe he created us, and God has an enemy set on destroying his creation. That enemy has launched a war on our bodies and minds, and he’s determined to destroy us any way he can. He persuades us to hate ourselves into change. He confuses us with distorted vision and distracts us with an incessant comparison. No wonder the image in the mirror continues to look more unappealing. He’s convinced us that the altered, filtered photo is more beautiful, so our reflection and our whole self feels like a failure.

We get swept up into the vacuum of superficiality where compliments operate as a form of currency filling us up when we receive them and making us feel empty when we don’t. For many of us, that cycle repeats over and over and over, never resulting in the peace, happiness, or feelings of being wanted that it promises.

But that does not have to be our story.

Whether you believe in God or not, the Bible gives us some powerful tools to fight back. Matthew 6:22-23 says,

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.

My challenge to you is to change how you’ve been seeing. Change your vision and your perspective.

What if we just stopped caring so much? What if our focus has been on all the wrong things?

I mean please continue to brush your teeth and change your underwear daily, that will bless us all. But for real, what would happen if we woke up fully embracing all the imperfections and feeling free in our own skin?

Imagine facing all the lumps on your body and lines on your face with such confidence and grace, while flipping the bird to all those negative thoughts in your mind trying to shame and criticize you.

Honey, your body tells a story from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. You have birthed babies and survived surgeries. You have healed scars from the abuse you endured and overcame. You have battle wounds from being in combat. You have scraped up knees from being fierce on the court and on the field. You have lines on your face that represent the wisdom of your years. You are short, tall, slender, and curvaceous. You come in every shade of the rainbow and stand out for all the right reasons. Beauty is not even a big enough word to define you, so stop letting it try.

It is absolutely OK to want to like the way you look. God was very intentional with the way He designed you, so you should appreciate what he created. And you also don’t have to act like you love the cellulite, because girl, you know that is not true.

But your Instagram feed, compliments (or lack thereof) about your beauty from men, and your lack of thigh gap do not get to determine your worth and value.

When we limit beauty to how our image in the mirror compares to an airbrushed model, we will come up short most of the time. Our beauty is not defined by what culture has called perfect. We are beautiful in spite of and in many ways because of our imperfections. I personally think back fat is from the pit of hell, but no longer will I wait for it to disappear before seeing myself as fierce. I’m done with that.

I asked God to change my vision, and he absolutely did. Is it perfect? No, but is it better? 1000% yes! Even if you’ve never talked to God before, he can do the same for you.

He wants to remind you that you were a daughter before you were anything else. How would you react to a young girl criticizing and berating herself? You would probably fight fiercely against the lies she wanted to believe. The truth is that you’re probably really good at fighting for others and against yourself. How about you try attacking those lies the way you attack your appearance? Fight for that little girl in you who deserves to be protected and called worthy, because she is.

And please, stop trying to be beautiful. Look at the story your body and face tell and know that beauty is in your bones. You don’t have to try. You just have to remember that you already are.

Written by Courtney Walton on Mar 20, 2019
Process, journal or discuss the themes of this article - here's a few questions to get the ball rolling...

Discussion Questions

  1. What strikes you most about this article, and why?

  2. Write down everything you think about your body—the good and the bad. Now, imagine a 10-year-old girl handed you that list about herself. What would you tell her in response?

  3. Even though Courtney is currently single, she shares that part of her breakthrough is reading a passage in the Bible about wives. Check it out whether you’re married or not. Replace “wife” with “woman” in your mind if you aren’t married and you’re getting hung up on it. Read the words over yourself. Even if you’ve never prayed before, ask God to let it redefine your view of beauty and worth.

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