(Part 4 of 4)
Self-Image Definition: the way you think about yourself and your abilities or appearance.
The topic of self-image is a near and dear one to my heart. I’ve previously mentioned it in an earlier post about confidence, and as I promised in that post, here is more about it.
I recently asked people on my Instagram how they view their self-image, and here are some of the responses I got:
Not as I would like myself to be
As someone who has failed in life
A very broken work in progress
Too chubby not so smart
Do any of these sound familiar? We are always our own worst critic; quickly pointing out our flaws and failing to see how great we are. So how do we get out of that negative mentality?
The secret is to focus on the positives, and rewire how you look at the negatives. You also have to figure where these negative thoughts are coming from and how to overcome them.
So I am going to start out with giving you a little homework assignment. I want you to take a long look in the mirror and write down three things that you see that you love about yourself. The next day add more to that list, and the following day do the same thing, and keep going. If you hit a roadblock just ask your close friends or family what they like about you, and I bet their list is probably longer than yours.
Since this topic is about self-image, I'm talking about writing down physical attributes. Yes, your personality is wonderful too, but I hope you already know that (if you don’t, check out the other posts in this series). So if you love your hair, arms, eyes, smile or anything else, write that down, because too often when we look in the mirror the first things that jump out at us are our “flaws.” For example, if you don’t like your legs, that’s the first place your eyes will go when you look in the mirror. And here is an even bigger challenge. Ask yourself, “Why don’t I like my ______?” (you fill in the blank).
Is it because I see other girls that look better and it makes me feel less-than? Is it because I’ve been bullied to believe I am not beautiful enough or thin enough? Is it because I was told to dress a certain way to hide my femininity? Let’s explore these thoughts together.
Our self-image really takes a big hit when we compare ourselves to others. In the world of social media we can be bombarded with thousands of people who are picture-perfect. Please do yourself a huge favor and ignore the Instagram models. Do you know how long it takes them to look like that? I’d argue it takes a few hours to do full hair and makeup and pose for a hundred pictures until they get the perfect one. Not to mention the photo editing that follows. Trust me, the whole “woke up like this” thing is a myth. So if you find yourself feeling down after looking at those posts, it's totally okay (and highly recommended) to unfollow them. You have full control over what fills your newsfeed. I suggest following people with a similar body type, who you can tell from the way they dress have similar values to you. That means their page isn’t full of bikini pictures and provocative poses.
Ladies, don’t let your self-worth be defined by the likes and how many fire emojis you get in the comments. Don’t you dare give people that much power over your self-confidence. Stop giving people on the internet or in real life any power over how you feel!
If you give an ear to people’s negative comments then you start believing their hurtful judgement. This is where you have to take things in one ear and out the other, which is easier said than done. Bullies exist and unfortunately sometimes they are unavoidable. They could be your classmates, or sadly even your family members. I write this with a heavy heart because I know it's sometimes our own parents that are constantly putting us down about things like our weight. To that I say, if you are doing your best to be healthy and take care of your body then forget whatever anyone else says! But if you’re not, then what’s stopping you from taking care of your body like the temple it truly is?
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Our community sometimes doesn’t know how to properly teach us to love our bodies. The main message you might have heard growing up is to be modest and cover up. While there is a truth to that, this message might have been delivered and also taken the wrong way by some. I do believe that no one should be flaunting cleavage or wearing super tight clothing that shows just about everything. However, I don’t ever want you to believe that there is something wrong with your body or your curves that you need to go to extremes to hide them. Embrace your femininity in a healthy and God-fearing way.
I knew a girl in high school that would always tie sweaters around her waist to cover her backside. She was a little blessed in that area, and was so self-conscious about it that she felt the need to always hide it. She didn’t realize that God made her that way on purpose and that there was absolutely nothing wrong with being comfortable in her own skin. It’s not her fault that popular culture sometimes over-sexualizes a woman’s figure, and she was trying to be mindful not to draw the wrong kind of attention to herself.
Girls, God created Eve with all that beauty for a reason, and He doesn’t make mistakes. After all, we were created in His image. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27). You are the Lord’s handiwork, and to judge your appearance as anything less than beautiful is to deem God’s work as inadequate.
I totally believe in the idea of “look good, feel good, do good.” I’m all about healthy self-care. It's totally fine to spend time on your hair, your outfit or your makeup if you choose, as long as your self-worth isn’t based on that. Because we all have bad hair days, and our self-love should not disappear on those days. Love yourself and be confident in yourself no matter what your outside appearance looks like. As long as you are following St. Peter’s advice in 1 Peter 3: 3-4 then you’re good. “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”
Candace Cameron Bure does a great job talking about this point in chapter five of her book “Kind is the New Classy.” She focuses on practicing healthy self-care and knowing that what's on the inside is more important than what’s on the outside.
On that instagram question I mentioned in the beginning, I also got some good answers. Some people wrote:
Priceless; my “price tag” is the blood of Christ
Resilient and confident… wasn’t always like this actually
These are the kind of answers I want you to have when you think about your self-image. Confidence doesn’t just show up overnight, it is something you work on, struggle with and conquer by the grace of God. And if you ever need any encouragement, I’m always a message away!
P.S. If you are struggling with your physical health and really need some guidance in this area, I highly suggest getting a health coach. I’m not talking about a personal trainer (of course those are great too), but a person that can coach you to becoming the healthiest version of yourself. If you’re interested to learn more, check out my professional services page on this blog and read about Monica Fam Armanious.
This is the fourth post in a four part series about seeing the greatness in ourselves.
Part 1 - Unconditional Self-Worth
Part 2 - Intentional Self-Love
Part 3 - Achievable Self-Esteem