“Oh my gosh, you are so gorgeous!” she said. “I don’t know why you can’t see it.”
“But look at my hair! It’s all poofy and stringy and gross. And my face is just….flat,” I replied.
“What?! Wow it’s true, people are their worst critics,” she replied.
This was a real conversation that happened a few hours ago as I edited photos from a play photo shoot at my house. I pored over all the pictures I took of my friend, O, but hastily edited the ones she had taken of me. As soon as a picture of myself came up on the screen, my eyes were immediately drawn to the flaws and imperfections. And I didn’t want to stay on the shot for very long.
The funny thing was, when I showed O all the photos from the shoot, she wasn’t sold on many of them either. There were a few we both oohed and aahed over, but for the most part, she was quick to point out the flaws in her features, even after they were edited. And then we got to my favorite picture of the day and I exclaimed, “You are so cute!”.
Her eyes widened. “You think I’m cute?” she asked. I nodded in response, still staring at my work of art. “Oh. Thank you! Thank you!”
Her response caught me off guard. After all, all I said was that she was cute. You see, she isn’t one prone to flattery or false humility. She’s pretty straightforward with her opinions and feelings. So the sincerity in her response to my seemingly minute compliment struck me. And I thought, “We don’t tell each other how beautiful we are often enough.” We really don’t.
Having O at my house this break has worked wonders for my self-esteem. I know she isn’t flattering me or just saying what I want to hear, so I don’t automatically dismiss her compliments as I do most people’s. In the past two weeks, I’ve heard more so than normal, “You’re so gorgeous” and “You’re beautiful” and “People buy contacts from Asia to get eyes that look like yours.” And I’m starting to want to believe it. In fact, sometimes, I catch myself believing it.
I think this has had such a huge effect on me for two reasons: I know she’s sincere, and she says it often. She doesn’t give me much time to believe my Enemy’s lies when she constantly reminds of the truth. Even still, it was hard for me to type out that last sentence, because I’m still not fully convinced that it is indeed the truth.
We are fierce warriors. We need to tap into that fierceness and fight the Enemy’s lies, but not only for ourselves. Real women fight for each other. We shouldn’t passively stand by and watch the Enemy destroy another woman’s soul. Real growth and real freedom only happen in real community. We need each other; we need to fight for each other.
Most of the time when a woman looks in the mirror, she isn’t thinking, “My gosh, I am gorgeous.” So what if we reminded each other of that truth more regularly? We tend to believe the things we hear the most. We believe the silence as well. I have a friend who was never told she was beautiful while she was growing up. She’s 19 now, and she doesn’t believe she is. Maybe fighting for her means telling her more frequently the things that are beautiful about her, until she believes it.
I’m not an advocating insincere compliments. I’m asking that we speak truth. There is beauty buried within each of us. And on the outside, we are stunning – short, tall, dark, fair, tiny middles or regular middles. We are breathtaking. We weren’t just hurriedly thrown into existence; we were molded and formed and intricately designed. We are works of art made as a reflection of the most glorious Being that ever was and is and ever will be. Let’s remind ourselves of that more often, shall we? And let’s not just speak in ambiguous terms. It does vastly more for my heart to hear someone compliment a specific physical feature or character trait. In fact, I never forget those compliments. They come back to me years after they were given (and so do the insults that are more frequently thrown around). When we see things that are beautiful about other women, let’s tell them. Let’s not just think it, let’s say it.
We don’t tell each other often enough how beautiful we are. Maybe if we sincerely called out the beauty we see in the women around us, it will take us one step closer to living victoriously in truth.