Amy Carroll » Releasing Freely » Abandoned Pictures of Perfect Beauty

Abandoned Pictures of Perfect Beauty

It’s shocking when I look in the mirror these days. Shocking, I tell you!

When did those wrinkles appear, my neck become crepe-y, and my double chin triple? ACK!!!

Just to be clear, I’ve never been homecoming queen or won any beauty pageants. I was thrilled to be on the cover of P31 Woman magazine when it existed, but Vogue has never called. I wasn’t the most sought-after girl in high school, and in my 30s I once got excited to be leered at by a man at the convenience store… even though he was about 80 and obviously drunk. What can I say? You take it where you can get it.

I actually do feel beautiful, though. It’s because my amazing husband tells me I’m beautiful every day, and I’ve chosen to believe him rather than question him. 🙂 I’m thankful for such a sweet gift!

But the magazine covers tell me differently. They tell me…

I’m not young enough.

Or thin enough.

My nose is too pug, and my jawline to soft.

My tummy has too many stretch marks from bearing big ‘ole boys.

The clothes in my closet aren’t hip enough.

My bag doesn’t have the “in” designer label.

My preferred flats don’t shape my calves enough….

I’m going to stop the list now because it’s getting depressing. Goodness knows there enough of that scrolling through my head on an hour to hour basis without feeding it.

In fact, that’s what I want to focus on today. What pictures of perfect beauty are your carrying around in your head that leave you feeling “less than” and even ugly? What does your self-talk sound like?

In the last few weeks, I slowed down enough to realize how brutal my dialogue with myself has become. Since being an adult, I’ve struggled with my weight, and mostly I’ve been losing the struggle recently. The stress of writing and releasing Breaking Up with Perfect  was intense, and I used food as comfort. Not a good move for reducing my chins. 🙂 The thoughts that go through my head constantly regarding my weight and appearance aren’t good, and I’ve decided they’re going to stop. I’m going to banish the pictures of perfect beauty in my head.

Here are some steps I’m taking:

  • When I catch myself critiquing myself, I’m stopping to pray, asking God to help me treat myself with as much love and grace as He gives.
  • I’m reminding myself that God created me perfectly and that I’m beautiful in His eyes. Magazines and media don’t get to define beauty for me. God does.
  • I won’t allow myself to critique other women’s appearance–even in my head. I’m shocked by the “body-shaming” news stories that have been circulating including the two below. Y’all, we’re sisters, and we need to look for God’s beauty in each of his creations!
    •  http://articles.philly.com/2015-08-24/news/65773637_1_baby-bump-facebook-pregnancy
    • http://www.eonline.com/news/642668/kelly-clarkson-addresses-body-shaming-controversy
  • I’m going to start eating healthier and treating food as fuel instead of comfort. I’ll feel better when my clothes don’t HURT, and I need to curb the “on-a-diet”/”off-a-diet” attitude I’ve had for years.

I want to tell you today–You’re beautiful! Really. Now I want you to pass it on. Look another woman straight in the eyes and tell her that she’s beautiful. She probably needs it. Maybe she’s single and doesn’t have someone to remind her regularly or maybe her husband has fallen down on his job. We can encourage each other!

How about you? Do you compare your looks to other women? Shame yourself in your head? Use your appearance to create a perfect facade?

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20 Comments

  1. Love this as I am a journey that has taken me in a direction that has detoured my daily exercise, I needed to read this. Thank you so very much.

  2. I know I’m reading this a little late but it was absolutely right on time. I needed this today (and everyday lately). Love your humor too, Amy! I can relate to clothes hurting especially when I’m sitting down.

  3. You have no idea now fitting this is for me today. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Bonnie Nelson says:

    I do all the things you’ve said & I want to BREAK UP with PERFECT!!!!!!!

  5. Maureen Gulas says:

    So… I bought the ebook months ago because I need to break up with perfect! My Dad passed along his perfectionism- not that he loved me conditionally, but he had high expectations, so I adopted them as my own, partly because I loved him so much!

    The main reason for not reading it yet is that my husband and I care for our 3year old granddaughter 5 days a week. While I haven’t read it yet, just the title alone has empowered me to give myself and others more grace, and realize that there is no such thing as perfect, this side of heaven!

    Thank you!
    Maureen

  6. I got to your site from the Proverbs 31 post today “When it all Falls Apart” — think the title made me open the email–most times I just delete them because “I’m too exhausted” to even read emails! Almost everything you listed has happened to me in the last couple of weeks! When you’re already exhausted–life doesn’t leave much room for “wiggle” — the computer crashing sent me into a tailspin. I co-lead a Bible study “Missing Pieces” and even that I self-talk to myself “why are you leading this study”. I always have this running list in my head of what I should do or get done in order for the day to be “perfect” — comparison and perfection are a finish line that keeps moving! Would love to read your book breaking up with perfect!! This will become my mission for the rest of 2015 “breaking up with perfect”! — God gives me the strength to accomplish what I can’t accomplish in my own strength. We all struggle with something…mine is keeping up with the “Jones” always comparing my house to someone’s bigger, cleaner, more organized house–it takes the joy right out of what you DO have! Thanks for sharing!! I’ve never responded to one of these blogs but think I just needed to get my “stinkin thinkin” out of my system!! COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF ALL JOY – Eleanor Roosevelt

  7. Alli Hughart says:

    Thanks for the encouragement on a more chaotic day!!! I needed that verse!

  8. I struggle with food as a comfort, I realized yesterday when we were struggling with my son and I ate 3 weight watchers chocolate bars (it’s okay because they were weight watchers, right?!). I REALLY struggle with this! I compare myself to other women, I try to fake “perfect,” whatever that is, and I often feel uncomfortable in my own skin due to my own self-shaming, multiple failures at diets, etc. I am beginning to realize that I must only compare myself to God, He is my comfort, not chocolate. He will sustain me, not french fries. He is all things good and gracious. Thank you for your transparency as you wrote this, I really needed that push. I am working on celebrating freedom from my issues with food, but it is not an easy feat. It has controlled me, much like a drug, for my whole life. I must lean on Him for I am weak, He is strong!

  9. One day I was going over the list of my “beauty shortcomings “, and my husband said please stop that. Stop what, I said and he said you are saying horrible things about my beautiful wife; he said I would never let someone else say those things and I’m not letting you say them. Wow, I never thought of it that way; I would never let someone talk about him or my children that way. It suddenly occurred to me that God, my Heavenly Father, must be heart broken to hear me bash His daughter in that way. Now I try to say a positive about myself every time I think of a negative. Trust me, it is not easy!!! God created me in His image and I don’t ever want to insult Him with my self accusations. Thanks for sharing Amy; I live Proverbs 31 Ministry!!

  10. Dear Sisters,
    The years you have survived this sinful world and the character refining us Jesus-girls undergo have affected our appearance. I don’t enjoy the silver streaks I find in my hair or the 25 pound that stubbornly shape my hips and tummy. But when I ask our lovely Savior to fill my heart, His beauty shines through my imperfections!
    Then, when the world looks at me, they see the peace and joy that only comes from Him. And THAT is beautiful!
    I don’t like Facebook, so have not joined, but my sister showed me a video that brought me to tears. A pretty and above-her-ideal-body-weight woman stood in a public place, wearing a 2-piece bathing suit and a blindfold. She had a sign asking people to draw a heart on her skin if they agree that folks should love their body and quit self-loathing. After an hour, she was covered with hearts and loving, encouraging words!
    We judge our appearance so harshly. Satan must enjoy that. But God truly does look on the inside!
    Much love,
    Jenn

  11. I really needed this. I have gained so much weight over the past years, not because I was necessarily an “emotional eater”, but I just tend to make wrong food choices when I eat my regular meals and I don’t get my exercise like I should.

    The pounds have really came on and I am constantly reminded by some of my family members. My family have always given me a hard time about anything and everything and I feel like whatever I do is never “enough” for them. They have been like this my entire life and it has really changed the way I think about myself. I guess when you’ve heard it you’re entire life by some of the people you love most, it kind of sticks with you.

    I have a wonderful husband who constantly tells me that I’m beautiful, but the words from other family members still echo in my mind. I absolutely dread family events because I leave them feeling so depressed and downright worthless.

    I have three beautiful children of my own now and I am determined that I will never make them feel like I have during my life. This post really spoke to me and I need to remember how God looks at me. It’s just hard to get to that mindset.

    Thank you so much for your post today. I think many of us girls give ourselves a hard time about appearance.

    Brittany

    1. Amy Carroll says:

      One thing I’ve been doing is intentionally noticing women who Are beautiful who also carry some extra pounds. I would never say the kinds of things to them that I sometimes say to myself! I’m working to be kinder to myself and to remind myself that true beauty isn’t defined by a number on a scale.

  12. Amy, so well done and so true. I hate (and that’s not a strong enough word) getting old but my hubby still tells me I’m beautiful and instead of not believing it I need to accept it – and I know in my heart my God thinks I’m beautiful even with wrinkles but my head needs to get on board!

    1. Amy Carroll says:

      Yes indeed! I once heard Meryl Streep say she had earned every year so she was happy to own them. Love that attitude.

  13. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou for writing this. I have been struggling so much in this area since my late 30’s. Truth be told, I think I’ve always felt insecure about the way I look, not that I’m an unattractive person but then Vogue would never come knocking on my door either! I think since turning 40 and watching what ever beauty as a woman I do have slowly drift away with the wind (or winding clocks of time) I’ve become acutely aware of how attractive youth is and that I don’t have it any more. It probably didn’t help that I was dating a man at the beginning of this ‘beauty crisis’ who enjoyed noticing the beauty of other women and defended his right to do so because men are ‘wired that way’. But truthfully, perhaps hitting middle age has exposed how insecure I really am and now I have to let God heal the cracks in my foundation. I actually prayed about that this morning and then along comes your email. Thankyou again for being today’s answer to prayer.

    1. Hey Julie,

      Please know that beauty is not only found in youth. I am 25 years old, and personally, some of the most beautiful people I know are 40+ (even though 40 is still young). As you get older you become wiser, and it shines from the inside out. And that is something young people don’t have.

      Much love,
      Brittany

    2. Amy Carroll says:

      I love Britanny’s wisdom! I continually pray that as outer beauty fades that inner beauty would multiply.