One of my favorite movies is “Shallow Hal.” Jack Black, “Hal,” is indeed “shallow,” as he only judges women by their faces, their figures– an increasingly common occurrence in my generation. However, BAM! One day, Hal is hypnotized to be able to see only inner beauty!
Supermodel women who have ugly souls suddenly appear externally hideous to Hal. On the contrary, not very attractive women (at least, by worldly standards) who have beautiful souls suddenly appear VERY externally gorgeous to Hal.
Perhaps this movie spoke to me in high school because I was overweight back then, and felt like the world didn’t quite think I was pretty. (Yet God’s love still made me feel beautiful, no matter what. I was His daughter, and I knew He doted upon me!)
I also really liked the movie because, as a young woman, I was so tired of the young men around me… proving to me that they were only boys. I’d hear things like, “She’s so HOT,” “I’d do that,” or even that simple perverted “YES” so, so many times. After hearing boys say ridiculously objectifying statements like this, I’d promise myself: “I am never going to date or marry a boy who says that kinda stuff. I want to date and marry a man.”
My best friend and I talked about these things endlessly. We knew we were worth far more than what boys were looking for. I recently came up across this little pictogram, and it totes sums up those thoughts from my teenage years!
Moving on… I’d like to ask… Have you ever had one of those nanosecond moments that completely changed your life?
I can count dozens of such times, straight from the hands of God. In fact, in middle school, I believe that God really wanted to get through to my self-conscious teenage girl within, when I saw this Scripture verse on my girl friend’s AIM profile: “Man judges by the outer appearance, but the LORD sees the heart.”
The Douay Rheims version, you ask? (Please excuse my hardcore Catholic nerding out): “…Nor do I judge according to the look of man: for man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord beholdeth the heart.” –1 Samuel 16.7
The heart! The heart! The LORD saw my heart! He BEHELD it. God didn’t judge me just upon my outer beauty.
God didn’t care that I didn’t have the perfect, trendiest wardrobe from Limited Too (again, I’m dating myself– it’s called “Justice” now). He didn’t care that I didn’t plaster my eyes in makeup (I was pretty afraid of that stuff at 12). He didn’t care that I didn’t have a body like Britney Spears (she’d just made her debut back then).
No. The LORD cared about my heart! He saw it, and He loved it. He saw me.
Yet lo and behold, a decade later, even after that beautiful realization, I still struggle with issues of body image. And a decade later, you can take all of those statements, and just fill them in with some different trendy store for 20-somethings, a new makeup trend, and another celebrity whose body I would love to have.
Yet I suppose I have to be a little forgiving of my circumstances. I mean, it’s just so difficult to be a woman today and to NOT feel pressured to have the perfect body, the perfect face.
In a world of airbrushing and shows like “The Bachelor,” it’s so hard to brush aside those subliminal and not-so-subliminal messages that scream: LADIES, YOU’RE WORTH YOUR OUTER BEAUTY!
Yes, even with the LORD and– lo and behold, a decade later, an amazing boyfriend! (think: a man who LOVES and not a boy who LUSTS)– it can still be a struggle for a woman to fight off that “beauty is skin deep” message with which the world bombards her.
I often ask myself: with the LORD and with an amazing boyfriend who loves the inner me, why is this self image battle still hard to fight?
The only conclusion I can draw is that my feminine nature will always be prey to the fallen nature of my humanity. And the only solution that I can draw is that I must really work at letting the Spirit completely change my mentality!
On days when I stand in front of the mirror, saddened my perceivedly fuller face… and on days when I stand on the scale, saddened at a number that’s just a few digits higher… I need to pray for strength from the Holy Spirit to believe that it’s my INNER BEAUTY, not my outer beauty, that matters most!
Yes, it’s my inner beauty– the virtues that are ALIVE within– that I need to be concerned about.
I need to tell Satan that my body isn’t his, and that I am not going to listen to his LIES. More importantly, I need to tell GOD that my body IS His, and that I am going to listen to His TRUTH!
And what is that Truth? That I’ll always be of infinite self worth, and a beautiful, ravishing daughter in God’s sight. Inside and out! No matter what anyone else says. So long as I keep fighting to cultivate my INNER beauty, pick up my cross, and follow Him!
My everyday, saint-in-the-making note to self? Don’t be shallow. You are worth so much more. You are a beautiful daughter of God. You are His!