1.10.2014

Mirage


J and I were driving home from a party one night. I was deep in my own head, staring out the window when J asked what was wrong.

I had to explain that one of the guests had been talking about her nutrition class at the university. She'd been required to step inside a machine that measured body fat, and she {acting all demure and modest} reported the result to us. Her percentage was miniscule. As in, I've only ever heard of a number that low in men who were marathon training.

Instantly, I felt like a failure. My clothes felt uncomfortable. My SKIN felt uncomfortable. I wanted to crawl outside of myself. I felt like a thing unworthy of even taking up space. For the rest of the evening, I'd withdrawn to a corner of the room and tried to survive the onslaught of feelings.

However, If depression has taught me anything, it's been to examine and question my own thoughts. Before J interrupted my reverie, I'd been in the midst of some major self talk.

If my body fat percentage were lower than hers, would it actually make me better than her? 

What if I were in a car crash and became burned or disfigured, would I suddenly be worth less?

Can I only feel good about myself if I feel better than the other women in the room? Don't I actually hate that? 

I've seen other women look at me and feel bad about themselves. I always have to jump in and proclaim "This tan is fake!" "I'm wearing spanx!" "I'm just having a good hair day!" I feel like a fraud that has simply succeeded in fooling everyone.

If I don't want to feel better than other women-- if I don't believe I am better than other women-- why do I allow myself to feel worse? Less than?

Isn't this a no-win situation? Isn't this a distraction? Something to keep me discouraged so that I can't do wonderful, inspiring things with my time? Isn't beauty all just a mirage?

And just like that, I felt a moment of clarity. I'd been torturing myself like the plain-bellied sneetches with no stars upon thars.


Beauty does has a place in life. I appreciate beauty. I create beauty. I seek beauty.

But beauty is not the purpose of life.

In fact, if I allow myself to get lost in the world's narrow definition of beauty, I actually miss out on seeing, appreciating, creating and becoming. I think the unfathomable potential we all have is really, truly beautiful.

We are taught that even Jesus "hath no form nor comeliness: and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him." {Isaiah 53:2} The greatest of them all didn't even match the world's expectation of beauty. 

I find that freeing.

3 comments:

Apis Melliflora said...

I was thinking about how you are an artist. That means that one of your gifts is a keen aesthetic sensitivity to all things visual. At its best, I think your eye for beauty is a gift that you share with others to the glory of God. Thank you for that!

Janae said...

Thank you, I am so down on myself after having a baby and not being able to do "all" that I feel I should. I am lucky to shower let alone do my hair and makeup these days and I often attribute that to if I've succeeded that day.

Love your words and thanks for inspiring me.

Lynni Wart said...

Oh my. Comparatively speaking there will a.l.w.a.y.s. be someone more beautiful and less beautiful then ourselves, even on the inside, not just on the surface. I've struggled with seasonal depression for years. It wasn't until I started pro actively choosing to focus on gratitude, creativity, and service (plus I went gluten free, and that changed my moodyness!) That I stopped nittpicking myself. It started on the inside though, started by allowing myself to be grateful for who I was, and now I can allow myself to be grateful to and of others! Thanks to writing this post I think a lot of women have shame because of this. They need to hear they aren't alone!

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