As I have gotten older I am amazed at how diminished my memory is becoming. I seem to forget everything. Items on the shopping list; important dates; the names of my children! The truth is my memory has never been especially good. I don’t know if there is a thing called ‘noun dyslexia’ but if there is then I am plagued with it! Names of items, places and people all seem to slip through my brain like sand through my fingers.
However, the place that I find I am most forgetful is in front of the mirror. Standing alone with my reflection gazing back at me can leave me embracing all sorts of alien thoughts about myself. Discouraging whispers I once believed about the women stood before me. Damming lies about my appearance and beauty, my character and heritage which flood in and threaten to overwhelmed me. Before you know it I have forgotten who I am.
In many ways it’s not surprising I struggle. We all live in world which is so image orientated. And the world’s toxic concept of beauty is something we find ourselves exposed to from a young age. TV ads and comic book heroes, cosmetic companies and fashion agencies all peddle the lie that beauty should take a specific form. As a result, by the time we reach our teens most of us are uncomfortable in our own skin. Our bodies change and as they do we find our self constantly comparing ourselves with other people’s projection of beauty. Our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and friends may tell us how stunning we look but we are never truly convinced. By the time we reach adult hood we may recognise that we have a few cute features but we would never dare to call ourselves beautiful.
And so self-criticism becomes part of our daily routine, as organic and natural to us as brushing our teeth in the morning. And because everybody has adopted the same attitude no one thinks it’s abnormal or wrong.
However, I have a little ‘saving grace’.
Carefully placed in the corner of my bedroom mirror is a tiny piece of coloured plastic on which is written the wise words ‘Do you see what I see?’ It stands as a constant reminder of the truth that I am not who the world tells me I am … I am who God says I am. It is a permanent provocation to see myself as God sees me.
I may be told by glossy magazines that I need a certain skin tone and bone structure to be attractive, but God informs me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I may be led to believe that my age, height and width all disqualify me from winning any beauty pageants, but God tells me that I am made in the image of a stunningly beautiful God.
These truths do something incredible. They not allow us to exceed the man-made bar of feminine perfection; they demolish the bar all together. After all who made the earthy standard for beauty? We may fall into the trap of believing that it’s those multimillion pound fashion corporations. The ones which exist to make us spend our hard earned cash on their products in an attempt to create an image that they classify as beautiful? Woe, that’s some cleaver, money spinning marketing ruse!
Actually the only one around with the right and skill to determine what beauty should look like is the creator Himself. It’s the one who made it all – He is the only true, authentic, and genuine decider of what beautiful is and what is not.
God’s image of beauty involves variety, range and diversity. He fashioned His children in all shapes and sizes, with a mixture of eye colours, foot length and skin tone. He created us with different body shapes, hair texture and ‘upper-lip puffiness’ - and He did it all with unbelievable joy and pleasure!
So, the next time you stand in front of the mirror be sure to remember who you are: be sure to see yourself through the eyes of the one who formed you: be sure to see yourself as your creator sees you! An unbelievably beautiful, fabulously delightful, simply gorgeous, daughter of the most high God.