Some of the guys I’m working with have joked about initiating a no-shave summer. You know, a summer where you just let your facial hair grow and get all long and manly and unkempt? Some can make it work. Others… not so much.
Well, a few of us girls thought it’d be funny to pretend like we’re doing a no-shave summer, as well. In Clarkston, it’s actually not too difficult to pull off. When you basically have a dress-code of wearing jeans and a t-shirt all summer long, it’s not hard to justify putting down the razor. I mean, let’s be honest: shaving your legs is a drag and just a tad unnecessary if no one can see them anyway. Am I right?
But in a moment of complete honesty, I AM doing no-shave summer. Ladies and gentleman, I am not shaving… my upper lip.
Yes, I have hair on my upper lip!
(Men, ask around and you’ll realize most girls do)
There’s this stigma surrounding the idea of girls having hair on their upper lip. I mean, girls don’t really want to be associated with mustaches. Especially this girl right here. I swear I’m like part Italian, part ape. My hair is so thick and long and dark. It’s just always been that way, and the hair on my face isn’t much of an exception.
But shortly before I came to Clarkston, I decided to stop trying to mask it. Why?
Because I was spending so much time worried about what I look like when the truth of the matter is that PEOPLE DON’T CARE.
I stopped including shaving my upper lip in my weekly maintenance schedule, and no one noticed.
The only person to mention my sudden growth of a mustache was my boyfriend. And he doesn’t count because he’s a lot more acquainted with my face than most people.
Not only that, but I stopped tweezing every week. How many people commented? None.
And then I stopped wearing as much makeup. Who told me I was ugly? Nobody.
Then I decided to wear my hair back in a messy bun just about everyday, cutting down on the time and stress that maintaining this wild mane usually required. And guess who cared? No one.
And I don’t think it’s because people are being nice. I’m at the point with my roommates where I know they’d say something if they noticed an obnoxious uni-brow growing on my face.
The truth is that I have spent a good majority of my life trying to make myself look perfect when I could’ve just let those things go and nothing would have changed.
I would still have the same friends. I would still feel just as pretty.
And please know that this security I have only came through practice and persistence. I was pretty horrified when I looked in the mirror the first couple days after letting the hair on my face grow back. But I stuck with it. I was THAT tired of caring.
Yes, I’m still tempted to hide all these imperfections. I want to smooth down my hair and pluck my eyebrows and get rid of my girl mustache. I want to keep my nails painted and get rid of the calluses on my feet. I want to lose a few pounds and whiten my teeth.
But the longer I hold off, the more victorious I feel.
In a way, I feel like my persistence is my way of standing up for the women who feel like they have to hide behind acne treatments, diets, and tweezers. This is my way of fighting the fear that us girls have of our NATURAL beauty. And I don’t mean the kind of natural where you use a nude lipstick and a gold-shimmer eye shadow. I’m talking about the unshaved, unmasked kind of natural. The natural we only let our pets see.
I’m tired of being insecure around anyone and everyone who isn’t my dog. I don’t want to feel like I have to hide my under-eye circles or leg hair just to go out in public.
And I certainly don’t want to shave my darn mustache.
Girls have hair on their upper lip. Deal with it.
It’s no-shave summer, baby.
P.S. I’m fully aware that people are now going to start noticing it more. WELL, GO AHEAD AND STARE. At least I called it first.
So this might be a weird thing to write about, but I feel like I’ve reached the point where I don’t really care who reads what I write. As long as one person gets something good out of it, then I’m okay with approaching uncomfortable topics.
And the uncomfortable topic for the day is: a woman’s body.
Men, you can just stop reading now if you want. I wouldn’t blame you for not wanting to dive into the realms of feminine issues in the middle of a Tuesday.
Especially considering I’m going to be discussing the dreaded “time of the month.” AKA PERIODS.
There. I said it.
I’ve been reading this book by Stasi Eldredge (author of Captivating) called Becoming Myself and one chapter in particular really intrigued me because it discussed an element of a woman’s life that I don’t tend to concentrate on so much: the body.
She brings up a very good point. “I am my body just as much as I am my spirit, my soul, my emotions, my dreams, my desires, and my sense of humor” (Becoming Myself p.51)
The body matters, too.
When I really stop to think about it, a majority of conversations or thoughts involving my body are negative and filled with hate.
I HATE getting my period. I HATE cramps. I HATE bloating. I HATE being so incredibly emotional.
And even when I’m not on my period, I find things to complain about. I’m not happy when I’m bloated and I’m not happy when I’m thin. I feel too curvy one day and not curvy enough the next. The circles under my eyes are too dark, my skin is too dry, the hair on my legs grows back too quickly, and LORD ALMIGHTY, how do I control this frizzy hair?
I know I am not the only one who does this because I have friends. And my girlfriends and I are notorious for griping about our bodies together. We actually feel like we’ve bonded after ranting back and forth for five straight minutes about how gross we feel.
And to be honest, I love those conversations. In those moments, I feel free to complain and whine and get all weepy because I know that these other women know EXACTLY what I’m feeling. We even celebrate when we’re on our cycle at the same time because we know we can suffer together. It’s like we’re blood sisters (pun very much intended).
But on the flip side, we don’t have too many conversations praising our bodies. Sure, every now and then we’ll send some selfies to each other (#stunna) on days when we feel particularly pretty (or HOT, if I’m going to be honest). We occasionally gush about how great each other’s hair and outfits and makeup looks. But not so often our own. Most of our discussions pertaining to our bodies and appearance aren’t positive.
I wish this wasn’t so.
I’ve been growing into the idea of loving and cherishing my body for the past several years, but I’m far from fully appreciating it. I haven’t had children yet so I certainly can’t pull the whole “it gives life” card. I’m not married and I’m not having sex so I can’t even pull the whole “it unites me to another person in God’s design” card.
For now, my body seems to just be… my body. It’s just there. I have one. That’s all.
But ladies, there IS so much more to it than that.
This is quite revolutionary for me. I feel like I’m at a point in my life where it’s vital that I begin to change some of my perceptions because one day my body WILL be bringing life into this world and be wonderfully enjoyed by a man I commit the rest of my life to.
If I don’t accept or understand my body now, I might not be able to appreciate it for all that it is when it does do those miraculous things.
The truth is that our bodies are already miraculous.
And when we hate our bodies, it’s like we’re saying, “God, Your design stinks.”
Now I know that we probably won’t change our perception about our bodies overnight. In a few weeks I know I’m going to be griping about cramps all over again. In fact, I have a dreadful Pap smear at the end of this week (TMI maybe) and I’ve been cursing my body for the past week for requiring so much care. I don’t want some doctor investigating my uterus.
Yet I know deep down my body matters. It needs to be taken care of. It needs to be treated nicely.
And I haven’t been treating my body very nicely, at least not with my words or attitude.
I really think that it’s important for us women to start valuing our bodies. If we dedicate so much time tending to our emotional and spiritual needs through encouragement and prayer, then why not our physical needs, too?
Our body needs love.
Our body needs encouragement and prayer and affection and attention. No matter what size we are or what time of the month it is, our bodies should be appreciated. They are gifts.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Perhaps part of honoring God with our bodies is treating our body nicely. Instead of tearing it down, we acknowledge the beauty of God’s creation. We let our bodies do their thing (menstrual cycles, gaining weight, and all) as a way of surrendering to God’s plan for our lives.
I’m still going to cling to chocolate and Ibuprofen when distress hits, but I’m going to try to not despise what my body is doing. I’ll still cringe as I have a hard time buttoning my jeans, but I’m going to try to not bash my figure. As Stasi puts it, “to be a woman is a glorious thing” (p.52).
Maybe we can just start thanking our bodies for what they go through, even if we aren’t truly grateful. Maybe over time, we really will be able to see ourselves differently in the mirror. I think self-talk really does help. Prayer, too. What if we just started acknowledging things, GOOD things, about our bodies one day at a time?
I wonder if our confidence would grow. Maybe we’d curb some of that insecurity. Maybe we’d be able to survive that time of the month without biting everyone’s head off.
I certainly don’t know what could come of this considering I’m just now starting to wade into the waters of appreciation, but I feel like it’s got to be good for us to some extent, right?
I dare you (if you are a woman) to start taking some of this seriously. Take your bodies seriously.
Your body is beautiful! That’s sometimes difficult to say out loud or even fathom, but it’s true.
That’s all I have to say on this topic. I’m sorry if this was uncomfortable to read. You could’ve stopped twenty paragraphs ago.
And men, if you’ve made it this far, I’m thoroughly impressed. Don’t be afraid to make eye contact with me after reading this. I may be one of the few women you know who would dare say such things so openly, but know that every female you encounter holds many of the same feelings, thoughts, and concerns about her body. It’s just the way we are, the way we think. I think it’s good for men to dive deeper into what being a woman is like just so he can properly love and care for her. Likewise, I believe a woman has a duty to know more about herself and also about the men in her life.
It’s important to unveil some of these secrecies and mysteries.
And now that I have peeled back this one layer, you may carry on with your Tuesday.
The saddest thing I’ve realized is that for a majority of girls (myself included), being a woman is characterized by shame.
We are ashamed of being women.
And that’s not something you would normally say so blatantly and directly. Some of you might not even agree that’s true.
But when you look at the things we as women are ashamed about, the things we fear and worry about, the things we beat ourselves up for, it’s clear as day that we are ashamed of being the women we are. Deep down we feel like we’re too messy.
We’re ashamed that we are emotional. We’re ashamed of how easy it is for us to get our feelings hurt. We blame ourselves for not being more secure and fear that the people in our lives are going to leave when they realize how impossible it is for us to find emotional stability. And so out of that shame, we hide our feelings. We swallow our hurts and wounds and sometimes let people step on us so we don’t have to share our pain and risk being seen as lunatics. We’d rather be hurt and find ways to get past it on our own than own up to the fact that we are emotional, fragile beings who need assurance and hugs. We don’t want to have those conversations that reveal just how insecure and emotional we really are.
We’re ashamed that we want affection. We’re ashamed of our desires to receive those sweet “good morning” calls, find flowers on our doorstep, and be told that we are beautiful. We feel like men will look at us funny or find us impossible to satisfy and so we let things slip and allow others to treat us the way they want to treat us. We’d rather cry to ourselves than let on to the fact we require affection, affirmation, and admiration to feel loved. We’re ashamed of how hard it is to feel loved as a woman. We’re afraid that we ask too much and so sometimes we don’t ask at all.
We’re ashamed of our bodies. We’re ashamed that our bodies are different from other girls’, the ones plastered all over Pinterest with the clothes that fit in just the right way. We’re ashamed that we can’t pull off a single outfit that the mannequins wear in Forever 21. We’re ashamed when we’re too modest and we’re ashamed when we’re not modest enough. When girls with smaller waists and a smaller chest wear the same things in our closet, they’re seen as cute while we feel slutty. Because of this shame, this feeling that we ought to have a better body and better appearance, we resort to envy, discreet dieting, and shopping splurges. We constantly have to battle the lies we hear when we’re looking in the mirror. How is that we feel so confident without makeup one day and then feel utterly ugly without it the next? We are addicted to add-ons and trends as a way of fighting the lies and shame we have to deal with day after day.
We’re ashamed of being women. We’re ashamed of being highly relational and emotional. We’re ashamed of the way we care about our appearance. We’re ashamed of our insecurities and fears and weaknesses.
And that shame is killing us. It’s destroying us.
It’s making us feel less and less like the beautiful daughter of God we are. It’s making us hide more and more from the people who NEED to hear the truth so they can better love us and understand us.
I don’t know how this shame can be combated besides through God’s truth. And I know even then, it’s a matter of a girl’s heart. If she doesn’t want to accept the truth or doesn’t know how, she can be stuck in this shame for a really long time.
But what’s beautiful is when a woman does have her heart open. It’s been wounded enough times to the point where there’s enough cracks to let the truth pour through. So here’s the truth just waiting to pour through:
You are a beautiful woman. You were never designed to live in shame. You are beautifully made. God knows your heart and delights in it. You are made in God’s image. You are made to have emotions and feelings. You are made to care about relationships. You are made to be loved and accepted and cherished. You ARE loved and accepted and cherished. You are worthy of being romanced. You are perfectly imperfect. Your life as a woman is not to be looked down upon. Your life as a woman is meant to be celebrated. You are a woman worth celebrating.
I love you, sisters.
I am my mother’s daughter.
I have the fierceness ingrained in our family, passed down from generation to generation. We are bold, determined, willing to speak our minds.
My mom and I are similar in that we know how to be assertive and go after what we want in life. We can be overbearing at times, and it’s funny how often I hated this trait in my family yet I exhibit it myself.
For so long I saw myself as brash and loud, even obnoxious. I wasn’t too bothered by this fact; I just accepted myself for who I was and saw these things as family heirlooms that were inevitably passed down to me.
My mother and I are fierce women, but for so long I believed that fierceness was all we had. As empowering as it can be to realize that you are assertive and bold, it can also be discouraging.
When faced with serious subjects for most of my life, I was quick to laugh and brush things off. I didn’t think I knew how to be soft and vulnerable or comfort others during times of mourning. My parents and I just always used humor and loudness and name-calling to survive while others used tears. My friends say, “I’m so sorry that happened.” We say, “that sucks. Beat her up.”
It wasn’t until recently that I began to question my identity compared to my mother’s. I love her so dearly, but I knew that there was something in me that didn’t want to be defined the way my mom seemed to define herself. After all, I’m not always loud and brash. I do occasionally like hugs and comfort. I can sometimes be shy and soft-spoken. I just have a hard time convincing myself that these things, these nice things, are a part of me as well.
After observing the tenderhearted love exchanged between others this past year, I have been wondering if I have that sort of gentleness in me. My grandma has been whispering in my ear all my life that I have a gentle spirit and kind heart, but if I have such things, I sure do have a hard time accessing them.
The unfortunate truth is that my exterior masks my interior all too well, and I have been defining myself by my loudest qualities rather than the secret, softer ones.
All along I have had gentleness inside me; I just haven’t been diving deep enough into myself to find it. For so long, I allowed my confident and bold front to be all that there was because I was afraid, and still am at times, that there’s nothing else to uncover.
To this day I often put up this front. I’ve been told that I come across as intimidating and self-confident. The truth is I’m unsure of myself and afraid in many ways. It’s the fear of vulnerability that keeps my true self from coming out of hiding. There’s nothing worse than feeling ignored or unimportant. There’s nothing more frightening than being yourself and facing rejection.
So for a while I have forgotten how to let myself be myself.
However, I’m starting to find that hidden gentleness in me again, what other people were able to locate while I seemingly couldn’t, and I’m surprised at how quickly I can find it in my mom as well.
I can see it in the way my mom will call someone out and say things that no one else would dare proclaim, all for the sake of making sure no one she loves is hurt or taken advantage of. She will express her feelings loud and clear, but that’s because there’s a part of her that isn’t afraid of vulnerability and being known. She is determined and a go-getter, but it’s the maternal instinct and desire to take care of her family that spurs her on. She wears sweats and foregoes makeup shamelessly, but she is feminine at heart.
Even though she might not admit it, my mom can be tenderhearted and, well, a girl. As can I.
The truth is that we both have Eve in us. All women do. We, like Eve, are made in God’s image and for a special purpose. We are destined to be caretakers of others. We have a maternal instinct, which can be stifled yet not completely extinguished. If you look at the definition of the name “Eve”, you might be surprised to find that it simply means “life.” Women bring life to others.
My mom and I are not exceptions. We also bring life to others. We will fight in order to protect loved ones. We will speak up in order to preserve justice. We are ingrained with wisdom on how to nurture and take care of others. And at times, we know that there are kind, loving words of truth just behind our lips. We don’t always say them, but the words are there.
Are we loud? Yes. Do we become controlling and overbearing sometimes? You bet. Are we occasionally brash and maybe even rude? Indeed.
But I can’t say that we don’t know how to love or how to be gentle and soft.
My mom and I choose to love with fierceness.
Yes, I will always be my mother’s daughter, and I’m proud of that fact.
Here’s a word all girls are familiar with: Acceptance.
Every female struggles with it.
Am I pretty enough? Do these people like me? What should I wear today? Will they make fun of me?
Or worse: Who does she think she is? Why can’t he just be normal? Why should I bother getting to know this person?
Whether it’s trouble with accepting ourselves or trouble with accepting others, we are all guilty.
Today someone raised a question: Why do you want to be accepted?
For a long time, I literally did not have an answer.
We spend so much time putting on makeup, trying to impress people, working to achieve something of worth, hoping to getting someone’s attention, and asking ourselves if we’re even good enough.
It’s obvious that we all want to be liked and accepted.
Why does it even matter? Who cares if your hair looks like a mess? What’s the point in trying to gain as much approval from your peers as you can? Who are we trying to impress anyway?
Because we are like Eve. Every woman is.
“Like Eve after she tasted the forbidden fruit, we women hide. We hide behind our makeup. We hide behind our humor. We hide with angry silences and punishing withdrawals. We hide our true selves and offer only what we believe is wanted, what is safe… We will not risk rejection or looking like a fool. We have spoken in the past and been met with blank stares and mocking guffaws… To hide means to remain safe, to hurt less. At least that is what we think. And so by hiding, we take matters into our own hands. We don’t return to God with our broken and desperate hearts.” Captivating- John and Stasi Eldredge.
When we fail to accept ourselves, we are drifting farther and farther away from where God wants us to be. He wants us to run to Him, He wants us to put our insecurities behind us, and He wants us to find truth.
And the truth is that we were each created to be simply captivating.
“A woman in her glory, a woman of beauty, is a woman who is not striving to become beautiful or worthy enough. She knows in her quiet center where God dwells that he finds her beautiful, has deemed her worthy, and in him, she is enough. In fact, the only thing getting in the way of our being fully captivating and enjoyed is our striving. “He will quiet you with his love” (Zeph. 3:17). A woman of true beauty is a woman who in the depths of her soul is at rest, trusting God because she has come to know him to be worthy of her trust. She exudes a sense of calm, a sense of rest, and invites those around her to rest as well. She speaks comfort; she knows that we live in a world at war, that we have a vicious enemy, and our journey is through a broken world. But she also knows that because of God all is well, that all will be well. A woman of true beauty offers others the grace to be and the room to become.”
Once we break through those layers of hurt and fear, we find a capable version of self, a beautiful one. Once we see the true meaning of beauty and we learn to accept ourselves, we also learn to accept others. We are all so much alike.
Ladies, we all seek to be loved, we all want to be seen as lovely, and we all struggle with looking at ourselves in the mirror, some more than others. Once we realize how similar we really are, how can we not love and help each other? How can we not accept each other? You are meant to be captivating, and so is she. We all are.
Though we may not fully know why we want to be accepted, the desire is there. Instead of allowing it to control our actions and determine how we live our lives, we need to let it all go and realize what we can be, not what we aren’t.
Ladies, this one’s for you.
When I was a little girl, I was told countless times that Jesus loves me. I was reminded time and time again that we are each created unique, and we are all beautiful in our own way. I used to think I was as pretty as a princess, decked out in a pink dress and ruby red Dorothy shoes.
As I grew older, my trust in these truths began to fade. Bombarded with standards of “true beauty” and “perfection”, I somehow stopped seeing myself as this amazing and adored girl. I somehow became blind to how much I am really loved.
I think the root of most of girls’ problems these days is the desire to be loved. I think it’s safe to say that we are all searching for approval or love from someone.
What saddens me is that we stop believing that we are worth loving.
What saddens me is that we stop believing that we are adored and valuable to this world.
Somehow or another, we find ourselves searching in all the wrong places for adoration- boys who only want to use us, friends who only want to make themselves look better, our peers who only want to judge us for what we wear and who we hang out with. Even parents can put pressure on us to look a certain way and do certain things.
Because we’re looking in all the wrong places, we’re constantly let down. As these disappointments build up, it becomes harder and harder to see someone worth loving when we look in the mirror. We just don’t seem good enough for anyone.
This is an epidemic. This is affecting girls WORLDWIDE.
You are not the only one. Everywhere you go, you will find someone dealing with the same insecurities, feeling the same doubts, and searching for the same approval you wish to have.
What we all need is a long and hard look at our Creator. God, the all-mighty Creator, formed us all. We are each made unique, we are each made in his image, and we are each blameless in his sight when we trust in what He did for us. We have a Savior who redeems us, who protects us, who LOVES us, who ADORES us so much, he laid down his life so that we could be released from the bondage of sin.
We do not need to earn God’s love. He loved us first. He loved us before we were even placed in our mother’s womb. From the beginning of time, He had us in mind. With the sacrifice of His Son, He had us in mind.
As we struggle to gain acceptance and love from others, God still loves every fiber of our being.
This is something that a lot us girls forget too easily. This is something a lot of girls do not even know yet. We are already loved.
Instead of chasing after approval from all the wrong people and in the all the wrong places, let’s focus back on God. Let’s trust that He has a plan for us. Let’s trust that He loves us even more than we could comprehend.
Let’s rise above the labels, rise above the rest of the crowd, and chase after the life we are called to live.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13-16)
Something I struggle with is comparing myself to other people. Am I as talented as them? Am I at the same point in my relationship with Jesus as them? Do they have more than me? Are they better than me? By doing this, I am setting myself up for discontentment with my life and even God. By focusing on what other people have or don’t have, I forget what God has given me and blessed me with. While this may seem like a good way to become motivated, it’s not fair to myself to measure my own success by comparing quantity or quality. It blinds me to what’s important and by continuing to do this, I’m allowing bitterness and resentment room to build up inside of me, which we all know is far from where God wants any of us to be.
When your desires and jealousy are getting the best of you and holding you back from contentment and gratitude, it’s time for a reality check. We’re all going to find something in others that we simply cannot have or measure up to. We’re not all blessed with musical talent, we don’t all have platinum credit cards, we can’t all possibly look the same or own the same designer handbags. By desiring and yearning for other people’s gifts, wealth, blessings, and lives, we are blinding ourselves to what we do have. Our Father who loves us more than we can fathom wants to give us the true desires of our heart.
The only thing standing in the way of our contentment is ourselves. When we start caring less about what other people have, and start to focus on shaping our lives to resemble that of Christ, our desires will shape themselves too. We’ll find ourselves not only satisfied with our lives and possessions, but also happy for others too. Instead of letting jealousy consume our chances of happiness, we’ll start to realize how we’re all blessed in our own ways.
If you’re like me and have some insecurities and jealousies holding you back from loving others and loving yourself, LET THEM GO. Stop playing the comparison game, and start to see yourself through God’s eyes. We’re all wonderfully and beautifully created, and we have no right to be unhappy with where we are in comparison to other people around us. He bestows blessings upon us that we may not even be able to see because of our insecurities standing in the way. I promise you that you will be satisfied with every bit and inch of your life when you put your trust in God and take to heart His promises- we are not alone, we are all created in God’s image, and we are loved for who we are.