always lookin cute.

“Well. You have to look cute because everybody’s going to be there” Taylor said, “I’ll come over early and we can get ready together” -Jenny Han

With the release of the new Amazon show, I recently finished rereading “The Summer I Turned Pretty” series to remind myself why I didn’t like them in High School. I won’t ruin them for you (but I still didn’t like them). It’s not very often that I finish a book incredibly frustrated with the ending but to get into all of that I’d HAVE to spoil it for you… so we’ll move on. You’re welcome.

We’re still going to talk about the books though…particularly the line I began this lovely post with.

Here it is again:

“Well. You have to look cute because everybody’s going to be there” Taylor said, “I’ll come over early and we can get ready together” -Jenny Han

I read this line, put my book down, typed this quote out on a note on my phone so I wouldn’t forget it, and then thought about it for awhile. Nonfiction books obviously make you think, but I am a firm believer that fiction books can do the same, just in a much more imaginative way. These fictional stories hold many reflections of truth and weave images of the wide spectrum of the human experience. I have learned so much from reading fictional books where you are able to observe a character’s actions, motives, emotions, and thoughts.

That line caused me to pause because it really bothered me that those words were said by such a young girl. I could see and almost feel the weight or pressure that was already on this fictional girl to perform or look a certain way—to impress, fit in, and feel like she was a part of something. I thought about the friends I had as a teenager that often grow into women who have a magnified version of that pressure (including myself in that group).

I thought about how there seems to be this unspoken rule that to be put together a woman has to wear makeup. A rule that I love to break (listen, mascara is a nightmare to take off), but I still sometimes feel like I am less beautiful because I don’t wear makeup most days.

I wonder, why do we care so much? What prize do we win for looking our “best”? People’s approval? Is the approval worth earning if it isn’t based on traits that are lasting–such as our character?

That leads me to this question: what do we want to be known for?

What we look like or who we are?

Being the best dressed person or the kindest person in the room?

How much time do we spend in front of the mirror worried about what we look like–worrying about how big our pores are or if there is a new wrinkle on our face? If someone is flawless in appearance but they’re a jerk, they kinda lose their appeal. Right??

I don’t know about you—but when I reach old age (God willing) I don’t want to look back and see that I spent a whole lot of time worrying about trying to stay young, skinny, beautiful, and trendy. It’s a hard temptation for me to resist and I fail at it A LOT.

Body image is a hard topic and there’s a lot to it that I will not even began to cover in this post, but I want to acknowledge that I understand that we are surrounded constantly by unrealistic standards of beauty. How do we stop looking in the mirror and seeing imperfections, but instead look and see a person who is beautiful simply because they are alive and God made them?

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that what we need is grace. For ourselves. For our bodies. For our expectations. For our well meaning friends and family who make comments on our clothes or bodies in ways that evoke shame, because they have lived under the same cyclical expectations society has for us to look a certain way to be considered beautiful.

For me, grace looks like asking God to help me eat differently in a balanced way that is good for my body, resisting the urge to fall into quick fix diets that are all centered around losing weight. It looks like finding exercise that I enjoy that feels relaxing, worshipful, and encouraging, rather than expectation and shame-filled. It looks like buying new jeans if my pants don’t fit instead of forcing myself to lose weight to fit back into my preferred size. It looks like not beating myself up if don’t meet my health goals perfectly (I still struggle with this one).

What does having grace for yourself look like in this area? Is it the way you talk about or see yourself? Are there unrealistic expectations you have set for yourself?

My hope is that you will find freedom in knowing that you are enough. You are beautiful.

How do I know that?

The Creator of the universe hand-crafted every part of you.

As always, thanks for reading–you are the best,

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