somewhere new, someplace safe: what we really need to hear

Am I beautiful?

It’s one of the most fundamental question we ask.  We throw it out into the void.  Sometimes, we get platitudes as a reply.  Sometimes we don’t ever get a reply.  And sometimes we are chastised for even asking.

I am no stranger to insecurity.  There are moments when I feel truly lovely as I live out of who I fully am.  When I am with those who love me the most, I feel my fullest self and in those moments I my most lovely.  And I am concerned not with what I look like at all.

But it doesn’t take long for a shift to take place inside me.  Something around me rubs up against a raw spot — a comment, a joke, an ad on TV.  Most of the time the cues are subtle.  Sometimes they are loud.  However the means, a comparison is made.   And next thing I know, I’m picking at my clothes to make sure my fat is concealed, wondering why my thighs are so large, constantly adjusting my stance and posture to make sure the world doesn’t see how fat I am, passing up things so I can hide in the background.

I find myself trying to hide from the world what I believe is so clearly evident.

There might be a moment where I dare to believe that people are drawn to my personality, maybe my kindness.  But then there are moments where I am crippled with the fear that the only thing people see about me is what I hate the most.

I try to make the burden lighter by making off handed jokes about food and my weight.  Sometimes, the jokes truly are made out of lighthearted fun.  Other times, I try to beat you to the punch — saying out loud everything I’m sure you’re thinking already.

It’s a silly analogy, but having a larger body in a world that says you can only be beautiful if you are thin almost feels like being a fish allergic to water.  How do I care for myself when I am bombarded by messages telling me I’m not worth it?

But all of a sudden, a change of scenery came crashing into our beauty-conscious society.  Starting up was a subtle celebration of the women like me.  I started seeing familiar shapes on magazines and in TV.  There was a bustle in the media and all of a sudden the term “body-shaming” caught like wildfire.  Women started rising up and staking their claim in the grounds of beauty.

I was excited at first.

But now I am discouraged.

I’m standing on the shore of a lake watching a sun set behind a mountain while my friends swim in the water.  I have my arms crossed and I’m sucking in my stomach — my eyes settled on God’s majesty before me but my mind preoccupied with the worries of being fat.  In the moment I took the time to consider:

What’s so wrong with being fat?

I can think of a million worse things to be.  Like unkind.  Unforgiving.  Unloving.  Hateful, spiteful, cold, unmoving, bitter.

So be “Fat.”

I enjoy the rest of the evening.

And then I am lying on the couch watching a movie with friends and I keep tugging at my clothes.  I keep shifting.  Incessant moving, picking, adjusting — all in attempt to hide what I hate.  Wanting to make sure these people with me couldn’t see this disgusting thing that I see.  Here, too, I take the time to consider:

What’s so wrong with being fat?

These people love you.  Let yourself go.

Later, I check into Facebook and I see an article about a man who “Loves his curvy wife.”  I didn’t open it because it annoyed me, but the excerpt I saw was full of this man raving about his wife’s thick thighs and large ass.

I have struggled all my damn life with feeling too fat.

And this article about a man loving his thick wife is supposed to be encouraging?

In a world full of real women who are really hurting, this is what we use to combat their loneliness and shame?  This is what we use to “shut up the body-shamers?”

When will we stop using the external to meet an internal need?

In that moment, I decided to run a little experiment.  Amidst all the media hype of accepting beauty at every size, I decided to concoct a Google search.

My aim was to type “Are curvy women attractive” to see what the Internet has to say about it.

My heart broke when I realized that Google could predict my question because it’s been searched for before.

 

How many people have turned to Google in their hour of need?  How many people have sat lonely and hurting, fighting off the lies that they’re ugly, less than, unattractive, unlovable — and where do they go?  Google, because they don’t have anywhere else that’s safe.

Continuing with my search, I found article after article after article of how men find curvy women beautiful.

Don’t get me wrong — there is absolutely nothing wrong with the longing to be found desirable by men.  I, too, have wondered if I am attractive; have considered if my shape and size somehow contribute to my singleness.

But at the end of the day, what I need isn’t a man or even a hundred men coming up to me and telling me how much they love my thick thighs.

We worry about being fat and the world tells us not to worry about being fat but at the end of the day, the focus is always on our body.  We want to be beautiful and the world tells us that men like curvy bodies but at the end of the day, the focus is always on our body.

Why can’t we let our bodies go?

Maybe it’s small, maybe it’s large.  Maybe you’re tall, maybe you’re short.  Whatever skin, whatever shape, whatever weight,

you are so much more. 

The need we have is so internal and yet we continue to combat it with the external.  I am relieved to know there are men out there who find curvy women beautiful.  But what I need to know in my lonely hour is that

I am loved beyond this body. 

I am loved for who I am as my deepest and truest self. 

And I am the beloved daughter of a good God. 

I want to get rid of all those articles and replace it with a single message so that when all the beloved beauties turn to Google to fill an ache, all they see is this:

Let it go. 

You are here, you are breathing.  You have worth, you have value, you have meaning.  You matter.  

Celebrate and tend to what you have, but don’t forget to live in the bold and unfolding world as the treasure you are.

 You are created by the God of the Universe who knows and loves you more than you can possibly imagine, and he looks at you and says “It is good.”  

You are of infinite worth and value.  You are bold, brilliant, and beautiful.  

And you will never be able to force your body to be the solution to your soul’s deepest need.  So let it go and rest in love.  

Let it go, and rest in love.

You are okay.  

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