“You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way.” Song of Solomon 4:7
Not too long ago, an ad for Shape magazine caught my eye. I might as well be honest: One particular picture of one particular person in one particular Shape magazine ad sent me on a mini body image spiral. Let me explain. I was on a mad Google hunt for a kale salad recipe. For real. But you know how those searches go: Whatever you start to look for usually gets sidetracked by lots of stuff you weren’t looking for and didn’t really need to know or see. Ever. (It’s amazing how many rabbit holes run through that virtual wonderland we call the Internet.)
So there I was, feeling pretty good about myself for searching for kale, period. But my determination was sidetracked before my third click. The person who hijacked my search for a delicious cruciferous salad? Actress Kate Hudson, looking glowing and fabulous and oh-so-trim in her workout clothes. The article claimed that Miss Kate had a revolutionary workout that got her body rockin’ like three minutes after the total-body-stretch-and-plump, also known as getting pregnant—a process I’m quite familiar with and have willingly undergone. Twice. (You are welcome, my children.) At this point, maybe I should mention that I’ve always thought Kate Hudson was beautiful. Really beautiful. Not in an obsessive way or anything. More like a “I sure wouldn’t complain if I got mistaken for her twin” kind of way. So when this ad made it sound as though anyone could look just like that golden beauty—even after having kids—by following four simple exercises, I fell for it and clicked through.
So there I was, reading an article I had no intention of looking for, jealous of a woman I will never meet, and later, practicing Pilates moves on my dirty, sticky kitchen floor. I wish I could say my jealous tirade stopped there, but alas, it continued. I proceeded to spend actual dollars on an outfit from her new line of workout clothes with the tepid hope that I would look just like Kate the next time I darkened the doors of my local gym.
The clothes finally arrived, and when I tried them on, I didn’t magically transform into Kate Hudson—big surprise. I was still me: perfectly imperfect Jessie. But my body-image relapse reminded me that every single girl out there—even of the Christian variety—feels the tension of a powerful longing at work in her heart.
God created Eve, the very first woman, with a desire to be desirable. And in its purest form, that desire isn’t bad—it’s just part of being female. We want to be beautiful. But once sin got mixed into the human recipe, our desire to be desirable got SuperSized. Now women battle insecurity, jealousy, defeat and an overall sense of “not measuring up” when we don’t think we fit some make-believe image of perfection.
Celebrating “Kate Hudson Envy Day” notwithstanding, I’ve learned a better way to live—a way to enjoy beauty without idolizing it, to balance wanting to be pretty without obsessing over it. And, ironically, I’ve discovered that sometimes the best way to see our beauty is to learn exactly how to feel ugly. That’s why I wrote Backwards Beauty: How to Feel Ugly in 10 Simple Steps. I want a generation of girls (and their moms, grandmas, aunts, teachers, mentors and friends) to stand tall like the beautiful creatures they are. We have a beauty the world doesn’t understand and—get this—we have it just by being female. When we embrace that truth, then live like we believe that truth, our Creator gets the glory He deserves for His beautiful handiwork.
Jessie Minassian loves Jesus, sunshine, and sand between her toes. She’s a speaker, author of a handful of books, including Backwards Beauty, and the resident “big sis” at LifeLoveandGod.com, a popular website for teen girls. A native Californian, Jessie now lives near Denver, Colorado, with her husband and two daughters.