It’s a cliche. It’s something we hear so often that it rings hollow:
We hear it day in, and day out. We hear it in many forms: You are uniquely you. God created you to be unique. You can’t be anyone but yourself. Just be you. Be who you were born to be.
But what does any of that mean?
I guess what they’re trying to say is: Don’t spend so much time wishing that you were someone else. Not so much telling you not to be someone else.
But much of the time, we look at ourselves, or at least I know I do, and wish that we could change almost everything about us. Skin, hair, facial features, weight, body shape and build, eye color. The problem is, it’s mostly things that might be unchangeable, or things that, even if they were changed, you wouldn’t be happy with anyway. Like, no matter how skinny you get, you don’t like that little pouf on your stomach; and no matter how many times you cut and dye your hair, it never looks as good as hers; and no matter what kind of makeup you apply, it never quite brings out your eyes the way it does for her.
But if you tell anyone, the voices come nagging: You’re so beautiful, just be yourself. You’re a beautiful snowflake. You’re a unique butterfly.
Or whatever… I don’t know exactly what all of them are. Unique snowflake? Beautiful butterfly?
Sure, we’re all unique. But I think that we’re all hammered with this message of uniqueness and never told why or how that’s important, or at least never told how to discover its importance. What are people expecting you to glean from it?
Maybe they simply do just want you to know you’re beautiful. But would it help if they attached something like, “Your smile lights up the room?” Or maybe, “You’re the most kind, caring person that I know, and a wonderful friend.” Those things are beautiful, after all.
I think we don’t really know what beauty is, or else we’re so over-saturated in worldly images of beauty (skinny, flawless skin, red lips, doe-y eyes, long eye-lashes), that we forget what godly beauty is (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, faithfulness, being so full of God that you don’t need to flaunt it). We forget that a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised, and we forget that beauty is fleeting.
I see so many girls and women tortured by their appearance, not confident in who they were made to be, not confident that they are made in the image of God, and so convinced that in order to be acceptable, loved, and cherished, that they first must fit into this unrealistic mold that we’ve set out for women. This size zero mold, that only has room for so much thigh and tummy fat, that only has room for perfect cat-eyes and long eye-lashes, and wants to get rid of freckles and acne for a “flawless finish.”
I honestly fear for any daughters I may have, and for sons, who might grow up thinking, this is beautiful. But I’d rather my daughters be so many other things before skinny. I’d rather my sons value so many other qualities in a woman above their body weight and outer appearance. Things like godliness. Does she run hard after Jesus, so hard that in order to catch her he has to run equally hard next to her for the rest of his life? Wisdom. Is she just book-smart, or does she know how to apply it? Is she foolish and childish and petty? Joy. Is she constantly down on herself and the world around her? Can he help her to see the world as a brighter place, or could she help him to do so? Does she laugh easily, laugh at the future and not worry? Peace. Is she a peace-keeper, or is she quarrelsome? Does she enjoy fighting and bickering, and start fights, or does she quiet them? Strength. If she does have to fight (for her husband, her children, her God) is she willing, and able? Or does she back down from all conflict, afraid, cowering? Respectful. Does she respect her man, or does she undermine him and tear him down? Does she build him up, or criticize and nag?
And so many others. Now don’t get me wrong. Health is important. But constantly comparing yourself to others who may not even be real, is not healthy.
And of course, we have to realize that none of us do these things perfectly. But that’s where chasing Jesus comes in. If you’re doing that, then you are free to be you, even with all of your flaws and failures, and you are undeniably beautiful, inside and out, because He created you and He lives in you. Even with acne, stretch marks, freckles, frizzy hair, weird toes, and a crooked nose.
So I think what’s missing from the cliched phrase telling us to be who we are is a simple addition at the end:
Be yourself in Him.
What are some things that you’d rather your daughter (or yourself) be before skinny (or before another trait that the world emphasizes)? Leave thoughts in the comments or on Twitter (#thingstobebeforeskinny).