After taking last week off from “No Fat Talk Tuesday” because of server migration issues, I’m happy to return to the series with an amazing and moving post from Liza. The line that hit me most in Liza’s post was when she said, “I quit fighting so hard to measure up to an external idea of perfection and beauty…and I started fighting a battle against my internal insecurities.” Amen! What a beautiful perspective. Thanks for sharing, Liza! – Madison
Hello, friends! My name is Liza Jane DeYounge. I’m a wife to Mark, and I blog at Elle Jay. I love strong coffee, epic movies, deep conversation, space heaters, quiet moments, simple design, long naps, and all things warm. Now that I am twenty-nine, I can finally say that I love myself too – but it hasn’t come easy!
Like many of you, I grew up hating a million things about myself. Though I wanted to be a toned, athletic, volleyball player with long, shiny hair and a football-playing boyfriend, I was a single band geek with nodular acne and cellulite. Fun, fun.
I spent years and years and hours and hours compensating for my imperfections and insecurities. I applied layers and layers of makeup, teased my hair, tried on twenty outfits hoping to find just one that made my hips look smaller… And just when I thought my hours of primping had paid off and felt confident enough to walk out the door, I’d run into another girl who, of course, happened to be prettier. Smack. My confidence was back in the gutter for the rest of the week.
In college, the pressure was too much. I was lost in a sea of hundreds of “more beautiful” faces and felt insignificant and worthless. I couldn’t spend enough hours in front of the mirror primping and poking and teasing to measure up to all the gorgeous girls around me. I just couldn’t keep up.
So I quit.
I quit fighting so hard to measure up to an external idea of perfection and beauty…and I started fighting a battle against my internal insecurities. I quit hating myself for who I wasn’t…and I started searching for the things I was.
As a Christian, I believe I was created by a wonderful Maker who isn’t in the business of making junk. He makes beautiful things for beautiful purposes. Instead of fighting so hard to measure up to toned volleyball players and People Magazine’s idea of beauty, I’ve spent much more time fighting to discover the Real Beauty and Real Purpose inside of me.
I took baby steps. One by one, I threw away all my fashion magazines. Later, I stopped watching pageants and romantic reality TV shows. I wanted to be rid of as many “voices” in my life that weren’t speaking the truth about the way I looked or who I was as a woman. I surrounded myself with friends who could encourage me and hold me accountable.
As I grew more confident, I began to face some of my insecurities head on. Though I hated how big my nose was, and I preferred not to draw attention to it, I went to war against the insecurity, and I got my nose pierced! Though I hated how my butt looked even in matronly swimming suits, I drug my best friend into Wal-Mart and said, “We’re not leaving until I buy a bikini and wear it all weekend at the lake!”
As more years have passed, I’ve started to make choices about my life’s direction and about my appearance that better suit me. I threw away my hip-hugging summer shorts and traded them all in for cute skirts. I drastically dyed my hair from bleachy blonde to dark brown. I spend a little less time pressuring myself to work out and I spend more time investing in and mentoring younger women.
And now? Now, I am in a season of celebrating my uniqueness and individuality! Yes, others may be able to play volleyball and sport six packs and get away with no makeup. But, praise the Lord, He has made myhands to make beautiful art. He’s made my eyes my favorite color of green! My hands can rock the piano. My voice can sing and lead people in worship. My mind is creative and thoughtful and discerning. My heart is soft and passionate.
Have you ever heard this quote by Albert Einstein? “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” That’s some good stuff, folks. I believe that everyone is beautiful. It breaks my heart that I wasted so much time judging myself in my inability to measure up to a false idea of beauty. Fish were not made to climb trees. And, I was not made to be someone else. I was made to be ME, and from now on, I’m doing all I can to ROCK being me.
If you’re interested in sharing your No Fat Talk Tuesday story, e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information!