I have to give major props to Sinéad O’Connor.
Homegirl knew what she was talking about.
Last week, one of my students was looking at a picture of a celebrity online, and she said, “Man, I can never get my hair to look like hers. Why does she have to be so pretty?” The girl next to her replied with, “I know–she’s perfect.”
And my heart broke.
As a high school teacher, I constantly hear young ladies say bad things about their own appearances and compare themselves to others. Then, when they do think they are looking their bests, they immediately take selfless and post to Instagram and Twitter to get as many “likes” as possible. Now, I’m not shaming the selfie completely, as I’ve certainly taken them with my friends, but I’m questioning the purpose.
When did it become so standard for people–particularly women–to size themselves up to other women and feel less-than-beautiful when they think they don’t measure up to a certain type of appearance? The thing is, we aren’t all supposed to look the same. We were each fearfully and wonderfully made (see Psalm 139:14), and it’s useless to think we should have to look like other people.
I’ve mentioned before that I once tried to get rid of my freckles, but it was such a waste of time and energy. Truth be told, rather than focusing so much on trying to change some physical aspect of my body, I really should have been focusing more on my heart. The love that radiates and shines from within a person is much more powerful than anything on the outside.
And you shouldn’t feel like you have to change the way you look to impress others. They should love you as you are–and someone will truly appreciate those “flaws” you think you have. (Actually, there is Someone who already does.) I know my chest isn’t turning heads; my hair gets frizzy and full of static sometimes; I don’t have Beyoncé’s bootyliciousness; my freckles are still here; my nails are always short and are seemingly incapable of growing longer; my ears are really tiny; I have a chipped tooth from when a volleyball pole fell on my head; I have a scar above my right eye from when I went flying into the corner of a bench–and I’m sure there are many other things about me that could be “fixed.”
Because, as it turns out, I don’t look like Blake Lively, and Ryan Reynolds is not my main squeeze. (I know–shocking.) You know why I’m not like Blake Lively? Because I’m Natalie. She’s supposed to be Blake, and I’m supposed to be Natalie.
You are you for a reason, so be you. Just like Sinéad O’Connor sings, “Nothing compares, nothing compares, nothing compares to youuuuu.” (You might have thought I’d never get back to that point, so there you go. You’re welcome.) Stop comparing yourself to people you see plastered all over the Internet. Stop comparing your looks to those around you. Instead, compare your heart to what you want it to be. Are you loving enough? Are you living in grace? Are you compassionate to others?
Your sufficiency isn’t in how people respond to your body image. There’s a difference in being confident in the person you are and in needing others to validate that confidence. Social media can be great for many things, but it can be so detrimental in many other ways. When you look in the mirror, I hope you see beyond just the reflection looking back at you. That person you see is full of so much beauty and so much potential to impact the world in positive ways. And I hope you remember something so important and so true.
Nothing compares to you–and I hope you sing that loudly and proudly as you see that reflection every day.