As a little girl, I heard the words, "you're so pretty" many times from many people. I spent a lot of time looking in the mirror at myself thinking I was so cute. Receiving approval and attention from others because of the way I looked became the measure of how I felt about myself.
When I was in 6th grade, I was chosen to be a part of a local TV game show for kids called, "Heads Up". I wasn't chosen because I was good at math, like my friends, Margaret and Huang. I wasn't chosen for the spelling competition either. I was chosen as the pretty girl that would hand out the prizes to the winners and read the jokes on the teleprompter before the commercial break. At the time, I loved it and was super excited to do it. But when I look back as an adult, I have to wonder what would have happened if I'd received more attention for my academics instead of my pretty face.
When I became a tween, the attention changed from "You're so pretty" to "Girl, you so fine". I blossomed early and the attention was less about my pretty smile and more about my curves. I didn't really see my curves as beautiful, instead, I felt like they just made others have nasty thoughts about me. I actually took the blame for the catcalls! My middle school mind thought, if I wasn't so curvy, they'd stop looking. So, I tried to keep my curves from showing (not much can really be done about them, though LOL) In my teenage years, I became a little more comfortable with my body, but I was still self-conscious. Once I got into young adulthood, and into the college scene, I began to realize that my"pretty" was all that some people seemed to want to recognize about me.
So now I've spent most of my adult life working to prove to everyone that I'm more than pretty, I'm more than my curves. Perhaps that is the reason for the "busy bee syndrome".
Isn't it interesting that what others say about us women, whether negative or positive, can easily modify how we feel about ourselves and how we see ourselves in the mirror? It can even affect the way we look at other women!
I am currently reading, More Than Pretty by Erica Campbell for a book club. In it, she shares her story with the word pretty and how the words of others affected her self-esteem at certain times in her life. When I found out that we would be reading this book, I immediately thought about Erica's white dress controversy. Perhaps you remember when all the “church women” ganged up on her for wearing a very "form-fitting" dress in a photo shoot that went viral. Everybody had something to say about how she looked because “her curves are accentuated way too much”, and "that dress will distract people from seeing God". I'll admit, I was one of those people. To me, the dress was way too tight. It wasn't a choice that I would have made as a gospel artist.
When I found out we were going to be reading her book for the book club, I wasn't really happy about it because I felt like her dress as well as her reality TV show were all ways for Erica and her sister Tina to draw attention to themselves instead of to God. In my mind, Christian women shouldn't draw attention to the way they look on the outside. I stopped listening to her music, stopped appreciating her as a child of God, and failed to see that she was and is more than pretty. I somehow managed to project the feelings I had growing up onto Erica. In other words, I was stuck on the idea that she should cover up her curves so that no one would notice because that's what I did. Now, as I read through her book, I realize that I judged her unfairly.
Look, I am not saying that I agree with the tight dress, I still think that she would have been just as beautiful in something that didn’t hug her so tightly. What I am saying is that I shouldn’t have decided I was done with Erica because of it. People are more than a snapshot, more than a moment in time, more than what they wear, more than what the camera records... more than pretty. And as it turns out, Erica is much more than a tight white dress.
More Than Pretty is an encouraging call for every woman to see themselves as God made them. Erica tells stories of her own struggles (including the white dress “controversy”), her self-esteem issues, and her tendency to devalue herself. As I have read each chapter, I’ve discovered that she and I have similar experiences that shaped our way of thinking about our body image. It is a fairly easy read that inspires and uplifts women, and her use of scripture is meaningful and well thought out. I haven’t finished reading it yet, but it has already had an impact on the way I've decided to see myself.
"I am a daughter of God, fully loved and completely reliant on His care and grace. I am a flawed human subject to devine leadership. I am a faint reflection of the righteousness of God, filter through what Jesus did on the cross. I am loved. I'm special. I'm royal. I'm forgiven. I'm unique." Erica Campbell-
It's okay to have curves, in fact, it's awesome! I don't have to hide them because the culture oversexualizes them. God made me beautiful, curves, flaws, and all!
Here is my Instagram post from this past Sunday:
So my husband, the highly skilled and talented photographer, @iwitness_inspirations told me he's getting into color gels...that's photography talk for color "filters". So I made the discussion to get over my negative self-talk about my appearance and spend some time with my love doing what he loves even though, I am not always comfortable in front of the camera.🙂
Now I know you might be saying, "Yvonne, you are often on IG with pictures of yourself. How's this any different?" Well, I am in control of my camera phone and I can manipulate it in any way that I want. But when you're in front of a photographer, they have control AND the professional camera doesn't lie. So I have to accept the truth about myself.
The shame is that I've distorted the truth! I'm not "too busty", I'm curvaceous! I'm not "too old", I'm growing gracefully. The fact is I'm wonderfully made! God said it, so who am I to argue! Let's kill the negative self-talk, ladies!!
Yep, I decided to step in front of the camera! And I even posed in a way that didn't hide my curves. I’ll give Erica a little credit for that. :-)
Mother's Day is approaching soon! Do you know a mom who is a busy bee? Give her the gift of reading all about how I kill the busyness of negative self-talk as well as other unproductive busyness in my book, Kill the Busy, Save the Bee. Click the link to purchase this gift!