I know a woman who doesn’t know how beautiful she is. In fact, she can’t believe you when you tell her. She can be heard voicing her hatred of almost every part of her body at one time or another – arms, thighs, tummy. Arms that carry children, give great hugs, hold the hurting. Legs that move her through her world as she touches lives and situations to bring healing and love. A tummy that grew babies and works to keep her healthy and strong. She can’t remember a time when she wasn’t aware of how her body failed to live up to the image of Beauty brought to her by cartoon princesses and glamorous women in the movies of her childhood.

As she grew older there were kids, stress, busyness, ignorance, budgets, unmet emotional needs, laziness, exhaustion – all of these, none of these, are blamed for her imperfections. Under layers of guilt, obligation, insecurity, self-hatred, there is a woman trying not to suffocate under all that pressure. She longs to set that inner beauty free, but can’t untangle herself from all the voices calling out her failings.

She’s most beautiful when she’s lost in what she loves – a story, a friend, a sunset. When she’d distracted by tasting the goodness of life, she shines. Laugh lines betray a life that has been worth living. She is color and grace, gentleness and humor, fiestiness and awe. She is the image of God set loose on the world to show them all His beauty. She is stunning and strong. She is worthy of love.

She is every woman I’ve known well enough to hear the words of self-criticism pour out. She is me. She is my best friend. She is the reason I’ve added one more life marker to my collection, to remind me that she is worth the effort of quieting all the voices that condemn and shame. She is sensual, strong, intelligent, well loved. She is beauty.


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