Saturday, 30 June 2007

Does my bum look big in this?

Was chatting to my house mate Ruth last night after her cell group. They had been having a discussion about Christian attitudes to clothes, make up and image.

Both of us felt challenged and convicted a bit by the whole thing and we realised that it has been a long time since we questioned ourselves or checked how free we are in this area.

I realise that I rarely ever leave the house without make up. I realise that I feel in a better mood when I look good. I realise that I love it when people tell me I look nice and also I have realised that, without noticing it, I am competitive with other girls-even my friends about how I look. If I go out for the night and one of my friends looks more attractive or gets more attention than me it bugs me! I don't even realise this all most of the time but when I really think about it these issues are present. I'd probably feel that a guy would like me less if he saw me "just the way I am"

To compensate for all these fears I strive.

I have some dinners and weddings coming up soon. Trying to find an outfit was like trying to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. What will no one else have? How can I turn heads? How can I be noticed? Me me me me me me me me ....

Does all of this just lead to self obsession? I was thinking about when I was at school. No fashion sense, bad skin, awful hair and about 2 sizes bigger than I am now, yet, I was happier with myself. I never gave diets or make up a second thought. Maybe I was more beautiful then in the real way.

This is an issue that as Christians we need to tackle. I have tried to exaggerate my experience, mentioning things that I would never notice unless I made myself reflect. While a hint of this exists I cant feel the fullness of the freedom that Jesus offers me.

I lead a cell group of 16 year old girls in church. How can I lead them in this if I am struggling myself.

Ruth and I being as intense as we are got really into this at ungodly hours of the night! We started to talk about how we decide on what to wear each day. Often it is about-do I look fat in this? Lets be honest for most of us it is about how what we see in the mirror matches with what we have been conformed to believe is "hot" or "not".

I remember nights in our house when none of us wanted to go out somewhere because we had "nothing to wear"or "in an ugly mood". Surely to embrace life and to spend time with people is more important than how we look. We live in a dirty, dying and broken world. What if we cared as much about it as we do about how we look.

On the other hand I believe that it is a good thing to respect and look after yourself. I like to try to make the best of myself and to enjoy being feminine. As in everything there must be a line, probably an individual and personal one and yet a difficult one to find.

Why do I wear make up?...To hide my insecurities? To attract attention? To feel more beautiful? to enjoy being girly? For me? For others?....For God?

I honestly don't know but this is the only sort of conclusion that I can come to on this right now...

When the source of the tree is a good stream the fruit is lush and the fruit tastes sweet. When we are in the right place we radiate God. At these times make up and nice clothes can be a complementary elements in helping us reflect and celebrate the beauty within.

We glow- not just the blusher and lip gloss but we really mean it!

When we are sourced in ourselves the stream gets contaminated. The fruit may look o.k but it doesn't taste good.We can be all dolled up and yet no sparkle, no joy. The world is sexy but it doesn't sparkle.

How can we be truly beautiful, sexy and living in God's will? All are good. It just goes sour when our body is the focus and when it controls the state of our mind and spirit. Surely it should be in the reverse order.

This is a tough one. As soon as you feel free in this you can end up back at square one again. Sorry for my brutal honesty but I am challenged to try and work on this.

Boys you're not exempt but I'm aware that this post must be like the blogger equivalent of a virgin vie party...


  1. yea joy i totally feel the same way, great and honest post thanks for making me feel that im not the only one who thinks bout these things! i hate the way our society is so materialistically and consumer driven, xo

  2. wow! I feel like every day is a "fat day" for me at the minute, maybe I need to change my thinking a bit... Thanks for your honesty

  3. Hey Joy, I was talking to Ruth about this last night and got very defensive of my right to wear make-up! But I've been thinking about it and I'm aware that in the area I work my appearance could hold me back if people think I'm prideful, I'm also aware that the times I've been closest to God are when I seem to be most attractive to people. Very thought provoking!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. beauty...mmmmm

    Where shall we seek beauty, and how shall we find beauty?

    ...unless beauty herself be our way and our guide?

    I wonder when we talk of beauty, do we even talk of beauty at all?Truthfully, I talk not of beauty but rather, of needs unsatisified!

    And beauty is not a can't be the image you see...but surely true beauty is the image you see though you close your eyes?!

    When I compare myself against this world I am unsatisfied...I become aggrieved and becomes a thing of might and dread...

    In the world's eyes I am not beautiful at all, but part of me is thank ful for that...because Him Beauty; Him Beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.
    But we are life and we are the veil.
    Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in the mirror.
    But we are eternity and we are the mirror...wao!

    No longer needs longer an empty hand stretched forth, but rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted...surely that is beauty worth searching for? surely that is beauty found?

    maybe just a 'pretty' ideal in my head, I don't know...

  6. ps.
    last week I spent £13 on a mascara...
    Big Lash Benefit

    doesn't even make that much of a difference...

  7. Interesting questions. I wonder though whether we would be so worried about beauty if we lived somewhere where no one else is or can afford the luxury, like in africa. I did not do makeup a few summers ago in tanzania and i felt so happy. I am not exempt by this though from this convo. Every time i return to uk i wear full make up again.I just got my regular top up of estee lauder foundation having gone without (i would like to say fasted, but i left it in church and it was never found!) my makeup for 3 weeks now. Wiggy once discussed being spiritually rich/poor and this is similar. I mean who is better off? Those of us constrained by the way society has manipulated us to think since we were youg, or those who have grown up free from commercialism? Doesn't an excess of 'stuff' to try and create meaning in our society make us more poor than those who just concentrate on living without the stuff?

  8. Yeah Jen I felt my most beautiful in Africa too. Looking at pictures I dont even look that bad beacuse I was happy and free.
    Sarah, I buy telescope mascara by loreal...not a button of difference!
    I totally agree that having stuff robs us of our joy at times and yet I am thankful for a lot of the things that I get to enjoy. Its about ballance I think and trying to centre ourselves on Jesus and who he says we are. I know that when I am confident in my identity in Jesus there is much less focus on image. This topic is pretty extensive...thanks for your thoughts guys.

  9. Joy you are so beautiful because of who you are. You radiate Jesus, and your love for people is what draws them to you.

    Keep shining! :-)

  10. SHAMELESS (but for a worthy cause) PLUG-

    Go read my blog- I've written about PIPS Project, an initiative set up 4 years ago in North Belfast for the prevention of suicide and self-harm in Northern Ireland. I want you to help raise awareness/give money!!!

    The work they are doing is amazing and in huge demand all over Ireland, it's really making a difference and it's worth finding out more.

    love you Joyful

  11. as a boy / man i also liked and agreed with and was challenged by your post

  12. Definately an area that Christians struggle in, while with girls its make up and dress, but fellas for me anyway stuggle with the latest gadgets, best car etc etc, truth is its an empty feeling we are trying to achieve, keep up the blogging!!