I Embrace Me!
Every woman should be able to look into the mirror and love what she sees!
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde
I love being a woman!
From the shoes to clothes to the makeup to the hairstyles…I love it all! I love that as a woman, I get to be romanced and wooed by my husband. I love that as a woman, I am capable of bringing life into this world and I’m deeply thankful to have experienced the miracle of birth, twice! I love having great perfumes and living up to the stereotype that we, women, love chocolate, flowers, being pampered and generally being adored!
(And quite possibly in that order, lol!)
I love that with all of my feminine grace and strength, I can be resilient, strong and fierce! A true force to be reckoned with! But in the next breath, I can turn into soft, gooey, mush as I cuddle and play with my children and bask in the feeling of safety that I find in my husband’s strong arms and warm embrace.
I love being a woman!
But I haven’t always felt this way…
For a long, long time, I believed that being a woman meant that I had to pursue a fictitious standard of eternal balance and perfection. I needed to have every aspect of my life together and look forever flawless as I worked at achieving my goals.
“I love being a woman! From the shoes to clothes to the makeup to the hairstyles…I love it all! … But I haven’t always felt this way…”
Not a hair out of place. Made up to perfection. Nails always done. Smelling great. Brow-game…STRONG!
I set out on to the journey of womanhood determined to work hard, look good, smell great – but unbeknownst to me – horribly naïve!
Naïve because I thought that the sum total of the beauty that I possess lies in an eyeshadow palette or the glass bottle that houses my foundation or my ability to apply cosmetics skillfully.
Naïve because I believed that my beauty lay in people’s ability to recognise it. Naïve because I strove to be everyone and anyone but me!
You’ve heard me mention before how when I was a kid, I always longed to possess both my older sisters’ charm, appeal and, of course, their physical beauty. What I haven’t told you is how I believe that forever comparing myself to them lead to me forming the unhealthy habit of viewing all women as “competition”. Competition…who always outdid me! I would look at other women and see that they possessed everything that I wish I had…
“For a long, long time, I believed that being a woman meant that I had to pursue a fictitious standard of eternal balance and perfection. I needed to have every aspect of my life together and look forever flawless as I worked at achieving my goals…And I suspect that I am not the only woman who has had (or still has) this problem…”
(I wore my first bra at age 18!)
(Girl…I am thick! Thick waist! Thick thighs! Thick calves. Thick E. VE. RY. THING!)
(‘Cause Lord knows mine is huge!)
And most importantly…breathtaking beauty!
(I’m more on the “homely” side.)
I would look at other women and forever short-change myself in the light of their “obvious” and “superior” beauty.
(We’ll talk about why those two words in inverted commas in a minute…)
I failed to realise that my definition of beauty was greatly lacking and I had a poor understanding of what true beauty really is!
And I suspect that I am not the only woman who has had (or still has) this problem…
We live in a world where women are constantly bombarded and saturated with ideas and concepts on what “true beauty” really is. One day, we are told that true beauty means having photoshopped, poster-girl looks: long, flowing hair and immaculate makeup. Sultry seductive eyes accompanied by a rather suggestive pose while showing off a generous quantity of our birthday suit in the hopes of being perceived as being sexy. Our teeth must be straight and perfectly snow-white. Our breasts should be ample, perky, full and inviting. Our waists should be “trained” and our legs need to possess that all important and highly coveted “thigh-gap.” Our abs should be so flat it almost touches our spines and stretch marks should be…wait, what am I saying? What stretch marks? The next day, we are told to just let it all hang out! Makeup is a big no-no and we are told from TV commercials to the pulpit that “women don’t need to wear makeup!” “You don’t need makeup, what are you trying to hide?” is the most common refrain I hear both men and women chant. “There will be a man who will love you just as you are and you don’t need to change anything about how you look with makeup!” some well-meaning people would say to me. Others would tell me straight up that wearing makeup means that I am insecure or shallow.
Day in and day out, we women are flooded with constant and contradictory messages of what it means to be beautiful and I don’t know about you, but I found it so darn confusing! It’s like there are two camps: Team Makeup vs Team Bare-faced and we as women are expected to swear fealty to either one side or the other side. And for a long time, I had a hard time deciding which camp I “should” belong to. On the one hand, I loved my make up! It’s like my face is a canvas and I am a painter – I get to skillfully and creatively apply my cosmetics and create looks that are pleasing to me.
“Beauty – true beauty – is not simply about having a nice-looking face with a body to match…And I think that we need to start opening our eyes and broadening our minds when it comes to our understanding of what true beauty really is.”
I get to enjoy the artistry that goes into creating a “smokey eye” and “winged eyeliner look.” I love it!
On the other hand…
I love just being able to wake up and the morning and get going on my day. No makeup. No fuss. I can just be and enjoy being bare-faced as I get on with my day. But here the dilemma that I think girls like me face: We enjoy wearing make up and being bare faced, so how do girls like us pick which side she should be on?
Answer: We don’t!
Because beauty is not linear.
Beauty – true beauty – is not simply about having a nice-looking face with a body to match. No honey, true beauty runs much deeper than that! Through the years, I have come to realise that the scope of true beauty ranges well beyond just having “obvious” and “superior” good looks! Having a good-looking face with aesthetically pleasing features is only one of the vast and varied out-workings of beauty that there is. And I think that we need to start opening our eyes and broadening our minds when it comes to our understanding of what true beauty really is. As a woman, you need to know that you are not beautiful because your weight is in check, or because heads turn when you walk into a room or because some man looks dreamily into your eyes and tells you so! As a woman, you need to know that you are not beautiful because of recognition that you receive or validation that is bestowed on you! As a woman, you need to know that you are not beautiful because of cosmetic enhancements, fashionable clothing and app filters!
You are beautiful because you are a soul who has more value and worth than all of the riches of this world combined! Your intellect, your compassion, your strength, your heart, and your God-given gifts, talents and abilities all combine to give this world the beautifully unique treasure that is you! Your creative mind makes you beautiful! Your willingness to work hard makes you beautiful. Your self-sacrificing devotion makes you beautiful. Your resilience and your strength make you beautiful! And your beautiful face is the cherry on top of it all!
And girl, it’s time that you started embracing that truth!
“You are beautiful because you are a soul who has more value and worth than all of the riches of this world combined! Your intellect, your compassion, your strength, your heart, and your God-given gifts, talents and abilities all combine to give this world the beautifully unique treasure that is you!”
So often, we can feel like we are unworthy and unable to be loved because we are not yet what we think we ought to be or what others expect us to be. Because we view ourselves as either “plain-Janes” or because we have fallen into the trap of believing that we are only bombshells when we’re wearing a whole bunch of products on our face and fancy clothes, we have forgotten that our true worth and value doesn’t lie without. Our beauty is God-breathed and it comes from within and then, it shines from the inside out! And that shining beauty is there and it is real whether or not you choose to see it or believe it.
I think that the problem is that we have been so conditioned to seeing and valuing only one form of beauty that when we as women feel like we don’t measure up to that “ideal standard” we must therefore not be beautiful…and that is the hugest lie any of us girls can believe!
I know that I a lie a believed for the longest time and it damn near broke my spirit!
After years of competing with other women and forever short-changing myself in the looks department, I have finally found freedom that a woman can experience when she stops trying so hard and just lets herself be…
Let’s herself be free to accept herself for who she truly is without feeling ashamed of the person that she is.
Let’s herself be free to love who she sees looking back at her in the mirror.
Let’s herself be free of jealousy of others and encourages the women in her life to seek that same peace and freedom for themselves!
When you can just let yourself be, your beauty will shine with overpowering grace and radiance and you will finally be brave enough to stand in front of the mirror and say: “I embrace me!”
The simple truth is this: the value that you have is God-given and the beauty that you possess is God-bestowed and nothing and no one can ever erase the truth that when God made you, He made you beautiful!
And girl, it’s time that you started embracing that truth!
Find out more about at Rachel Baskin