I am speechless today. Literally. Sometimes, you're just at a loss for new ideas. When I couldn't come up with a reflection to share with you for today, I decided to resurrect an old favorite, one of my first blog posts, about who we are as women.
You are beautiful. Enjoy!
You are beautiful. Enjoy!
Here's the thing, though. Beauty isn't something we put on in the morning, it something we already possess. Can you imagine what it would be like if the fashion industry realized this? Femininity is anything but a selling point; it's nothing more or less than who we are. Like so many other girls, I've become obsessed with Pinterest lately. Recently, I've noticed lots of girls compiling fitness inspirations, which is just fine, except that instead of actual fitness tips, these boards seem to mostly contain images of women with impossibly thin or muscular bodies. Thinspiration, evidently, is a widespread trend. I've felt a sadness looking at these images that sticks with me afterwards, I think because it feels like we've fallen a little for one of the biggest lies we're told: the lie that we will never be good enough or pretty enough.
For years, I was blessed not to struggle with self-image. When I got engaged and started reading tons of bridal magazines and websites, however, I'd suddenly start wishing I could be a little skinnier, have my skin be a little clearer, make my teeth a little whiter. I knew, really knew, that it was all unnecessary and that these messages were total lies, but even for someone who's always been pretty secure with herself, the pressure to be beautiful felt impossible to ignore sometimes. It seems like for brides-to-be, all of the normal pressures we face are ratcheted up a hundredfold. It's not wrong to want to look pretty, of course, but at a time when all eyes will soon be on you for a whole day, I found it doesn't take much to make you too hard on yourself.
I consider myself wonderfully lucky to be loved by a man who is so sincerely affirming. He constantly tells me I'm beautiful, and I know he means it (variation: a few days ago he said, "you're pretty as all get out"). Hopefully you're loved this way, too- that's one of the reasons you're marrying him, right? No matter how great our love is on this earth, it doesn't always feel like enough. That, of course, is because it's not enough. Luckily, the Lord unceasingly delights not only in our feminine beauty, but in our humanity, which includes the parts of ourselves we don't like. He loves everything about us, not just the "good" parts (inside and out), and what a grace that is. About a year ago, I had an opportunity to dive deeper into my basic understanding of John Paul II's Theology of the Body, which begins with the Pope's meditations on how men and women are created. I contemplated the fact that women are created to inspire love, not lust, in men, which is so contrary to what we usually hear. God's love for every human person is written right into our bodies and into His plan for marriage, which is crazy, true, good, and beautiful when you sit and think about it. These truths were a huge consolation to me during times when I struggled with the impossible ideal, the idol really, of bridal perfection. Let them console you, too! Thank Him for the gift of your femininity and ask Him for the grace to help you see your beauty when you're tempted to reject it.
I just read an amazing article about the beauty and virtue of women that mentions this painting by the Renaissance painter Fra Angelico. A professor wrote that "...in Angelico's Madonna, the fairness of her soul, the substantial form, shines through the fineness of her features." I know. I KNOW! Her virtuous, holy soul shines through her very features; through her body! That, ladies, is real beauty. A woman who knows her dignity in the eyes of God and man is radiant on the outside because of the radiance in her soul. That's the kind of look to aspire to.