Beauty (and The Beast)
Loving the Skin You’re In
So… you’re facing 35, 40, or 45–and when you look in the mirror every morning, certain body parts just aren’t in the same shape they used to be. Gravity is taking its toll, and the years you have lived are starting to show on your face, tummy, hips, or thighs. At the same time, celebrities you’ve been watching on TV for years seem to be getting younger, not older, as magazine headlines scream “40 Is the New 30!” What’s that about? And how is the non-celeb woman (the one like you, who probably doesn’t have access 24/7 to gourmet, delivered meals; personal trainers; and the best cosmetics and beauty procedures money can buy) supposed to feel about herself when her physical image just doesn’t compare?
: l spent time recently with Angela Thomas, speaker and best-selling author of Do You Think I’m Beautiful? and When Wallflowers Dance, asking this self-declared former wallflower how women can love their bodies just the way they are and handle God’s way the pressure to stay young, thin, and beautiful.
: How are women supposed to feel about their bodies when they are far from perfect?
ANGELA: I think we’re supposed to do the very best we can and then rest, trusting that the Creator hand-crafted our design. We’re also supposed to listen for the voice of the Father. Hear what He has to say about us and learn to know the difference between His voice and the voice of the accuser. The accuser screams from the covers of magazines, lingers from the wounding words we have known in the past, and keeps reminding us of our flaws.
ANGELA: Obsessing is the total opposite of resting. Our physical bodies are important. As an offering to God, it becomes our responsibility to care for the vessel He has entrusted to us through exercise, nutrition, and appearance. But there is a place of balance called enough. The Holy Spirit will guide each one of us individually toward healthy concern and gently remind us when we have arrived at enough.
: What if a woman does the opposite of obsessing and has just given up – no makeup, doesn’t care how she dresses, operating under the “People who are going to love me will love me anyway” philosophy? Should she take more interest in her appearance?
ANGELA: It breaks my heart when I meet a woman who has obviously given up, because each of the extremes is so unhealthy. I believe we should do the best we can, with what we have, where we are. We should care for our appearance for several reasons: First, we carry around inside of us the glory of God. Second, it’s a gift to the people we love.
Some days I pull myself together just for the kids. I want them to be proud to be with their mom. I want to model for them a balanced perspective and concern.
: What can help make women the most content with their bodies the way they are right now?
ANGELA: Discontent can be a great motivator for improvement, so we can’t discount its value. I went back to my trainer after six months of thinking I could do it myself. Even though I am not yet where I want to be, I find great satisfaction in being in process. I am working out. I am drinking the water. I am eating right, etc. Contentment comes when I believe I am doing the best I can to care for this 5’6″, fair-skinned, she’s-had-four-babies body.
ANGELA: I am learning to be open to new things, new styles and trying things that would have never worked for me twenty years ago. One day I went to a salon that everyone was raving about and told them I wanted fun hair. It was scary, but worth it to trust a professional to get me out of my soccer mom ponytail and onto something a little more hip. A girlfriend who is wonderful at shopping and putting things together has spent several days helping me get out of my safe “khakis and a jean- jacket” look. I just try on what she picks out and then we compromise until I feel really great in something I would have never put together. I have been doing the same at make-up counters, asking them what’s the newest, greatest eye cream or lipstick color. I am finally realizing it’s just hair. And it’s just clothes. And it’s just make-up. I can take some chances and really enjoy stepping out of my box. Besides, my kids always say to me, “When you come to school for lunch today, be a groovy mom.” Groovy mom doesn’t come naturally to me. I need all the help I can get.
: What can women do spiritually/emotionally to balance their concentration on the physical? What will help women find peace?
ANGELA: The Lord is so great to restore our balance in secret. When we sit alone with Him. Read His words. Pray in private. Ask Him honestly and receive the truth of His grace and mercy for our souls. The key for my alone time with God is honesty. Taking the truth of where I am and my personal struggles to be all by myself in the presence of God. In this quiet presence is where God consistently restores my peace.
Angela Thomas is the mother of four children, a nationally known speaker and best-selling author of Do You Think I’m Beautiful? and the follow-up title When Wallflowers Dance. Visit Angela at www.angelathomas.com.