I am not vain. I mean, maybe I fall into vanity a little sometimes. I am not going to say I am free of that sin. But for writing’s sake, I am saying that I am not vain. The reason I am saying that is because I used to think I was. I used to think I was vain and self-consumed and filled to the brim of both those things. The reason? I liked my hair. I liked my freckles and my eyes and my skin. I liked the way my physical body looked, and I thought that was the same thing as being vain and selfish and shallow. I was wrong.
Society in America has distorted the way that young girls think of themselves. They think that they have to live up to the beauty standards that celebrities and magazines set for them because they are defined as the “perfect woman.” With this pressure, girls are always able to find something wrong with themselves. They are conditioned into believing that they should be focused on making their body better all the time. You may not find much wrong with that last sentence as a standalone thought, but combine it with the fact that girls think they should be doing it for other people creates one of the most destructive thoughts in our generation. This thought process is creating an epidemic of self-conscious young girls. So much so that it is the new norm. In fact, it is rebellious to think that there is nothing wrong with your body. From the eyes of a biased and shaded world, loving the way you look is wrong and simply not how it’s done. It’s not normal, so it must be wrong. Where is the logic here? Oh, there is no logic? Imagine that.
So because of all of these thoughts floating around about how a girl should feel about her own body, my own understanding was compromised. A few years ago I was a ballet dancer. That is another story for another time, but I am drawing from that point in my life because I was under the constant belief that I was not the right body. I thought my thighs were too big and my waist too soft. My boobs were too small and my legs were too short. I scrutinized every single part of my body – especially the parts that I knew were out of my control. I was living with the constant, underlying belief that I was all wrong all over. It wasn’t something I went around telling everyone, but it really wasn’t a secret either. Ballet dancers were not meant to think that their bodies looked good. Ballet is a sport that requires constant improving. You can never say you have reached the maximum number of pirouettes or finally perfected your pique. Your arches will never be good enough and your arms never too fluid. It was the culture, and I am not saying that culture was wrong, just that it was personally destructive to me. I didn’t have the correct tools then to know how to counter the thoughts in my head – I didn’t even realize there were tools out there that could help me. Here I am, two years out, and still recovering from that destruction.
When I stopped dancing, I was introduced to the self-love movement. Of course, I was in love with it. It was everything that made sense – plus I was a baby feminist at the time so I was all about everything that came through on my Facebook page. But when I began loving my body I was crushed by overpowering guilt. This is where I thought vanity came into play. I was convinced that by thinking my body was okay and that it not in need of constant revision, I was becoming self-absorbed and vain. I thought that by thinking I may actually be beautiful, I was becoming a girl that thought she was “all that.” It sounds silly, but I really thought those things. Change is difficult when you have been conditioned into one way of thinking – the mind is a weird and delicate thing.
So how did I end up overcoming that stage of guilt? I found God. Someday soon I will tell you how I found him again, but for now just know that that moment has changed my mental health for the better in so many ways. It took a long time for me to fully understand Christian self-love, but when I finally did it was like my heart exploded. That sounds gross, but picture it metaphorically and move on. Basically, discovering this secret hiding in plain sight changed the way I live. It is obvious. Once I tell you you will either smack yourself in the head and dance around like a fool or you will be confused. If you are the former – congratulations! Go re-vamp your wardrobe! If you are the latter, it’s okay. You just aren’t there yet. One day you will be and then your world will change for the better. Don’t fret.
Love yourself because you are God’s creation.
He literally created you. He decided on all of your physical traits and knew that if he put your certain soul into your certain body, amazing things would happen – as long as you realized they could. He shaped your toes and your nose and he said, “Woah! I need to send this awesome human to earth right now and make sure she gets to meet as many of my other amazing creations as possible!” (Okay, I don’t know that those are His exact words, but they are probably pretty close.) He created you. He loves you. If nothing else, you should love yourself for that reason alone.
When I had this little epiphany, my entire demeanor changed. These days, I really only wear makeup when I feel like it. I do not feel self-conscious when I don’t have it on. I do not even think about what others think when they look at my clean and bumpy face. God created my face and so it must be glorious. I started dressing in exactly the way I wanted to. I bought clothes without a single thought as to what others would think. I didn’t focus on where the clothes came from, suddenly Wal-Mart and American Eagle were the same thing to me. I focus on what will make me feel more like me. I want my real, true self to show through because my real and true self is the one that God created.
Self-love isn’t vain. It isn’t selfish or thoughtless. It is worship. It is love – in the purest sense. In the best sense. It is one of the most powerfully good things you can do – and you can do it right now.
Treat others like you would want to be treated. Treat yourself as you would want to be treated.
When you realize how beautiful relishing in yourself can be, you will feel like you have grown wings. The laws of fashion won’t apply to you. Your makeup will become a toy instead of a necessity. Your heart will grow three times in size because suddenly you are free to express the love you have for yourself – God’s creation. He does not create a rough draft in need of revisions. He sends you to earth fully formed – you just have to be ready to show everyone all of your pages.
Love yourself, because He loves you. You will be stronger and your love for the entire world will blossom.