“You look AMAZING in that dress!”
“Wow, I can’t believe how beautiful you are in that outfit!”
“You got a haircut — it suits you so well!”
Gushing about other people in their clothes comes easy to me. I can say those things as an outsider looking at them. I can see how the right type of clothes just puts them at ease and makes them glow. I see how a new haircut or color can give them an extra bounce in their step. And I see that when I comment on it they seem to transform and really own their look.
They truly do look amazing when you say something. It doesn’t take much time, doesn’t take a lot of effort, and puts this giddy smile on their face. What I say is true. I don’t just sugar coat it, but I am liberal with my praises. Because I know what it can do for someone.
We women are vulnerable about our looks. Yes, it starts at an early age by the media and is compounded by outside people, fashion, Barbie, blah, blah, blah. We all have heard about it for years and have tried to stop it with our daughters and friends. But the feeling that we don’t look right, if only in certain areas, is always there.
I always have an insecurity about my looks, an inadequacy about how I fill out clothes, put on my makeup, or wear my hair. It takes me at least 30 minutes to try on all my clothes for church only to go back to the tried and true clothes I’ve worn over and over again. Why those? Because someone complimented me at one time in them — the shirt that made me look skinnier, because someone said I had to have dropped some weight; the tank top one woman told me really brought out my eyes; and the Easter dress that received a hearty exclamation from a friend.
It all stays locked up in my mind waiting for another day so I can drag it out to feel better about myself. No, my husband’s praises do not work. I don’t believe when I ask how I look in these pants that he will respond honestly. And the answer doesn’t lie in myself. I’ve heard all the self-help things, listened to how I can build my self-esteem, and yet here I sit worried what strangers will think of me in a bathing suit — so I don’t buy anything. I’m saddened that I can’t tell myself I’m pretty without outside opinions but from what I can gather from friends it’s not an isolated thought.
They, too, are insecure about certain areas of themselves. I recently joined a group where we sit and talk about clothes and ask how the outfit looks on us. It would seem a lot of women are concerned about how they appear on the outside to people. A few clicks later, a few “That really accentuates x,y,z and makes you look gorgeous!”, and we go on about our day feeling immensely better about ourselves. We are able to be a mommy and wife with a smile on our face and a twinkle in our eye. Or something along those lines.
My question, though, is why?
Why do we have to have that little comment from people to make us feel good? Why do we not believe ourselves or our spouse that we are beautiful? Why does the outside count so much when we know what God says about beauty? My self-worth is so often entirely wrapped up in a few select wardrobe choices.
Maybe it’s because we usually don’t compliment those things. I compliment someone’s outside but rarely do I say, “You have a beautiful, gentle and quiet spirit. That looks lovely on you.” (1 Peter 3:3-4) I have yet to say, “Your fear for the Lord is to be envied!” (Proverbs 31:30) I have never heard how beautiful my feet are, especially after breaking my ankles as many times as I have. (Romans 10:15)
We know as Christians our beauty is on the inside. We are perfect, robed in righteousness from Christ in His death and resurrection. So why do we always act like some ugly duckling until we are told our eyes are astounding or hair is luscious? It may be just me, at some point or another it usually is, but I’d like to hear more about this inward beauty. I’d like to tell young girls not just how pretty their dress is but how amazing their heart is. Maybe if we start this trend by the time our daughters are our age they won’t be so wrapped up in how they look in clothes.
Maybe they will. Who knows, it’s worth a try.