I didn’t feel beautiful or feminine at all when I was growing up. My twin sister was “the girly one.” I was the tomboy.
In upper elementary and junior high school, I got made fun of often for my glasses, my pale skin, the red dots on my legs and my very flat chest. I also have a medical condition (since junior high school) that often causes my belly to swell, making me look pregnant. When I was a young teenager, I was convinced that I was not beautiful and that no guy could possibly be attracted to me. People thought I was about 12 years old until after I was 30. In fact, I was accused multiple times of being a young teenage unwed mother when I had our son at age 28!
When I was about 27, a coworker of mine saw my identical twin sister come in to visit. My sister was in her blonde phase then and had spent two hours primping that day. I had my natural brown hair and was not wearing makeup at the time because my eyes were so dry, makeup would make them burn. My coworker looked at both of us and said to me, “April, you can look at her and see what you would look like… If you were sexy.” It stung – that I must be “the frumpy twin.”
It is sad to me now that I allowed a few comments from a few thoughtless people who barely knew me to dictate my perception of myself. I believed these people over God, over my loving parents, over Greg. How I wish I could have chosen not to absorb messages like that. Now I am comfortable in my own skin (mostly because of this journey I have been on to discover godly femininity) and I choose to focus on seeking to have the beauty that God desires most – inner beauty. I wish the me now could go back and have a few long talks with the me in junior high school! For more about my story, please read here.
I think a lot of us can relate to feeling that we can never meet the world’s standards of physical beauty. And many of us were teased or made fun of for our appearance. For some of us, there are deep scars in our hearts about this issue. I want to see God heal our scars, my beautiful sisters!
Keep in mind that a woman who is beautiful externally can quickly look quite ugly if she has a prideful, sneering, hateful, resentful, condescending, critical, judgmental attitude. And a woman who may not look like a supermodel can look more and more beautiful as she radiates the love, peace, joy and power of Christ.
From a wife struggling with physical deformities:
I suppose that is one of the reasons I strive so hard to be godly and as perfect as I possibly can be because I will never be beautiful. God chose to misshape me in the womb, why I’m not sure. To bring him glory I suppose. So my behavior must overcome my appearance. I wish I could be beautiful in the world’s standards, but not until I get to heaven. Of course I won’t care then!
I do not ask my husband if he thinks I am beautiful. He never says it, so it would be like fishing for a compliment. What is he supposed to say? I can’t even remember if he told me that when we were dating, but that was nearly 30 years ago so my memory just isn’t very good. My husband does not gawk at other women, so I don’t have that battle. I’ve just tried to concentrate on this verse:
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4.
I keep myself neat and dress as well as I can, but my face will never be beautiful. My body used to be, but as I approach 50 the inevitable time of age and having 3 children has taken its toll. I try to eat correctly and exercise. But 50 will never be 20. Things sag, metabolism changes.
So hopefully, the inside of me is beautiful because that is the only thing I can truly improve.
Another wife responds to her:
Your comment went straight to my heart. I am 57 and have also had three children. I too grew up thinking I was homely compared to my two older very beautiful sisters. They had tiny waists and wore circle skirts and crisp white shirtwaists that made them look like princesses. They were also beautiful inside, and I love them very much to this day. However, I was tall and awkward as a child, had straight hair, a long face, and and was painfully shy. I never believed I was beautiful at all, until my deceased husband’s love finally convinced me.
Then I realized that I had a different kind of beauty, and that I didn’t have to look like my sisters to qualify.
I’ve grown to appreciate the gifts God has given me, and one of them is the gift of loving others, of listening to them and extending hospitality. I also love to write, a gift I’ve always recognized but undervalued because everyone else in my family was musically talented, and I felt deficient because my gift was different. With age and a deeper relationship with God, I’ve realized how wrong my misconceptions were.
I too, have experienced the changes that come with age, but instead of expecting myself to have exactly the same kind of body and beauty that I did in the past, I’ve come to embrace what I am now, and dress to accentuate my most positive features now. I think the single thing that makes a woman the most beautiful physically, besides a quiet and mild spirit of one who loves God, is self-confidence is who she is, and the knowledge that she has valuable gifts with which to love others and make the world a better place.
So I would encourage you to let the knowledge of God’s love and whatever your gifts are give you confidence in yourself. Maya Angelou, a great poet who died just last month, wrote a poem celebrating her own unusual beauty called “Phenomenal Woman.” She wasn’t a classic beauty in any sense yet was beloved by many because she had a gift for sensing the human condition and expressing it eloquently in writing that many could identify with, especially women who didn’t realize their own worth.
I know from reading your past comments that one of your gifts is a steadfast, unwavering spirit of loyalty for your husband, and that alone should make you realize you ARE a beautiful woman with many priceless qualities. Why not smile, celebrate your unique qualities as a daughter of our loving God, my sister, and let your love shine out to the world! People will look at you in a new way, and you’ll be so much more at peace within yourself. Remember that you are also a beloved part of our world-wide sisterhood, and that we love you and want to support you in searching for and seeing your own unique beauty. Sending you a BIG hug!
From TheJoyFilledWife in response to the first sister in Christ who was feeling unattractive by worldly standards:
Sweet sister, the grass is not always greener on the other side.
Please know that God truly did make you beautiful.
The challenge is that you are judging your beauty based off of the worldly definition, but that is not where God stands and nor should we. We are to be in the world, but not of it, and to not conform ourselves to the patterns of this world…to the world’s way of thinking and judging. If we are believers, then we look to Christ to define what we should be believing and how we should be viewing ourselves and others.
To look to the world to set the standard is to make the world our Lord. It’s to idolize the world’s opinion and to strive to please it. That’s slavery, and Christ came to set the captives free. Let us remember that there is One who defines truthfully and that is our Lord and Savior. May we look to Him and Him alone for the standard, sister.
Since you brought up your desire to meet a worldly criteria of beauty, I think this would be a fitting place for me to bring up something that I have shared with my husband is a real struggle of mine. As I said in my comments a couple of posts ago, I sincerely hope that you are able to see that my heart is not prideful but filled with humility when I share this. I put myself out here, not so I can say, “Look at me,” but so those who feel the way you do about beauty can know what challenges there are on the other side of this issue.
Meeting the world’s definition of beautiful sounds great, doesn’t? The grass is truly not always greener on the other side.
My husband and I are business owners and a majority of our work is meeting face-to-face with people. We also do quite a bit of speaking, motivating, and mentoring within our industry.
When you’re a woman and are considered physically desirable by the world’s standards, it can be very frustrating trying to try and have substantial discussions with men in general, even if your husband is right next to you or nearby.
Recently I was sharing some very valuable insights with a gentleman candidate who came up to us to ask questions, and he kept looking me up and down the entire time I was talking. I was not dressed immodestly at all, but he spent the entire conversation distractedly staring at my face and every inch of my body. I so badly wanted to stop in the middle of my sentence and say, “Are you even hearing anything I’m saying?!” When you have something important to say, it can be very discouraging when others won’t look past your appearance to hear the valuable insights you have to offer. You feel like they’re missing your heart.
The same is true with women for me, but in a different way. You see, women have this tendency to judge other women and try and avoid them if they think they’re very attractive and/or have a nice figure. This is ESPECIALLY true when their husband or boyfriend is with them. I know this because I experienced some of those feelings once I found out about my husband’s pornography addiction. I felt like, if I could keep every attractive female out of view, I could somehow help him not become tempted.
But there are three flaws with this theory:
1. My husband’s definition of attractive was a lot more broad than mine and women that I would think weren’t even a visual temptation for him, I would see him bounce his eyes away from.
2. It’s wrong to judge someone else because of their God-given appearance.
3. This is trying to control, instead of praying and asking the Lord to protect minds and hearts.
I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t had the easiest time making friends with women over the years. In many ways, writing has been refreshing for me because it allows people to see my heart, instead of making assumptions based on appearance. I find that many women try and avoid me. I lost count over the years how many women have told me, “When I first saw you, I didn’t want to get to know you because I thought you were probably stuck-up because of how you look. When I got to watch you from afar and hear how warm and encouraging you were to others, I realized that you weren’t stuck up at all.”
You see, it can be so hard to show people the beauty you have inside when they feel threatened by you just because of how you look.
It can be frustrating when people won’t give you a chance and make assumptions about you based off of appearance alone. Attractiveness seems attractive, but the challenge is trying to get people to see past judgements about your outer beauty long enough to see the much more valuable beauty you have inside. I have to work so much harder, whether in business or casually, to show women that I’m not a threat and men that I’m not just a pretty face. It can feel very discouraging when you have to work so much harder to create relationships and spend most of your time trying to prove to everyone that there’s more to you than your appearance, that you’re a woman of substance, and that you’re not out to steal anyone’s man.
I share this with you because I hope to help you see that God made each of us to look exactly the way he wanted us for His purposes. You see, although many times I feel frustrated that I have to work so hard to get people to see who I am inside, I recognize that the Lord is using that to cause me to be proactive in reaching out to others and show them the light of Christ.
God longs to use all of our seeming “shortcomings” to bring Him glory, that in our weaknesses He can display His strength more powerfully. He longs to grow us so that we can reach others for the Kingdom. Paul in the Bible was so famous for his observation that our sufferings, trials, pain, and shortcomings are matters to actually rejoice over because they allow the mighty hand of God to be displayed more clearly than ever.
I love you, dear sister. You are who Jesus says you are and so very deeply loved. <3