Amelia Harman is a 15-year-old at Saint Thomas More College, Sunnybank (Australia). She’s highly academic and involves herself in the world of fitness & health.
Will I ever be good enough?
Will I ever be pretty enough? Skinny enough? What if my stomach was flatter? Then I’d be happy.
These are the phrases that we know all too well. We stare into the mirror every day and critically analyse our bodies and faces. We scan up and down repeatedly to find any type of flaw or mistake. So that we have a reason to cover our face with gooey cream, bronze dust, and black liquid. A reason to not eat that chocolate bar or skip that meal. A reason to stare into the eyes of a Photoshopped, airbrushed model in a magazine, in the hopes that maybe she will give us that determination to work furiously at the gym to someday achieve her body.
The question that I find always enters my mind though, is “why do I do this?” Why do I feel like I have to change in order to be happy with who I am? What ever happened to embracing individuality?
We’re living in a world obsessed with outward appearances and the onslaught is constant. I’m gonna go ahead and say what every teenage girl is thinking: can’t we get a break already? Although I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a Catholic family and community, where the teaching of true beauty is constantly being emphasised, so much so that it has become a significant core belief and value of mine. I’m not somebody who falls for societies pressures of perfection that willingly.
But sadly, so many don’t have that positive influence, belief, or value in their life to assist in shaping their self-esteem. So what happens? They follow the only influence they know will give them purpose and a goal to reach in their life – the influence of society and their peers. Then there’s others who may have firm beliefs, yet there are just a few little ‘things’ that bother them that they want to change (I admit I fall into this category). And this is generally the main problem: as much as we strive to love ourselves and our individuality despite the harsh expectations of others, weaknesses are easily found and we falter under the pressures to become ‘more’. Ask any female, and I assure you there has been at least one time in her life where she has felt unworthy, ugly, fat, or not pretty enough.
For me, it was having a toned stomach. For years I did ab workouts nearly every day, as well as numerous other sports and activities. And as much as I knew that I ought to love myself for the way I was, that still didn’t stop my determination to achieve this desire all until I came to understand and accept that I am “100% beautiful because I am made in the image and likeliness of God.”
But then this year I let my stronghold fall and gave in again to that little opinion inside my head, “Just focus on getting that toned stomach already!” I faced this issue independently, thinking that it was easily achievable if I just altered my lifestyle a little. Well, make that a lot. I began limiting portion sizes, restricting myself to eating healthy foods only, exercising every day, and sizing myself up in front of a mirror at every chance I got. Consequently, my weight plummeted and within only a couple of months I was reasonably underweight. Yet, I had no idea, because I was so set on this idea that what I was doing would help me become happier with myself and my body, when really, I was harming it; harming this sacred temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
It’s a mentality that’s easily deceived as advantageous, when really I’ve found that all it does is bring down my self-esteem with every thought, and invites into my mind the possibilities of living up to unrealistic physical expectations. It took me months to realise what I was doing to myself, and what would happen if I didn’t change for the better. How much it would detriment and disadvantage my life now and in the future – the losses I would face, the disappointment. Anyone see the word “fulfilment” or “happiness” in there? I don’t. Because what I realised was that the one and only way to finding true happiness within myself, is to love and accept the person I have been created to be.
As women, we were created by God to be the beauty on this earth, the mothers of life, the caretakers of both men and land. Without each incredible and perfectly made woman on this earth, this world would not be as it is today. We have such an important role, so why must it be made so difficult for us to find beauty in our role? No, why do we let it be made so difficult? Yes, it’s true that it is harder to embrace our individual beauty, especially when we pay more attention to the influences around us. But it’s how we deal with these outward factors and influences, which determines how much we allow them to affect us. And to help, we have something so beautiful inside of us already that simply cannot be displayed in a magazine, or on America’s Next Top Model – and that is LOVE. Love yourself for who you are, for you are an image of God your creator. How much more beautiful and perfect can that be!?
“Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead” – Song of Solomon 4:1
The first step to being truly happy with the woman you are, is to really and honestly 100% believe it. There’s a quote from a character in the Harry Potter series, Hagrid, who is someone I admire for his self-esteem in a world that naturally labels him as different: “I am who I am, an I’m not ashamed. Never be ashamed. There’s someone who will hold it against you, but they’re not worth botherin’ with.”
I want you to take a minute out of your day and look at yourself in the mirror. Name 5 things you love about yourself and why, whether it be a physical feature or personality trait. For example, “I love my eyes because they complement my smile and reflect my joyful moments” or “I love how I always say a friendly ‘Hi’ to those around me and include others when they are being excluded”. Do this every day, or any day you feel you are not worthy of being called beautiful, because the simple fact is that you are.
(My amazing grandmother also sent me this prayer the other day, and I thought it would be perfect to share in this post too!)
Thank you for how you see me. I am your much loved and wanted daughter. Knowing you has changed my future, and knowing how you see me can change my present. Thank you that you empower, but never control. Remove wrong mindsets and open my eyes to the truth. Please reveal to me any incorrect labels, and help me in turn apply your word to my identity. May your name be praised,