Monday, April 28, 2014

Let's Talk About Your Forbidden Secret

Depression.

Statistics show that women are 70% more likely than men to experience depression during their lifetime. 

Interesting.

I say so because as a girl who’s tackled depression herself, I find it interesting that while statistics show that it is a prevalent epidemic in the world and among us ladies, we hardly say a word about it. It’s evident that shame is the culprit and today I feel like tackling a bit of that shame head-on.  Let's look at one major source of depression in women: body image issues/physical insecurities. I wrote a recent post on this topic, "Stop Killing Yourself To Be Pretty", yet I feel the need to address it again. (Especially since I watched a Lifetime movie this past weekend, "Starving in Suburbia", that reminded me how far we ladies are from dismissing the pressure to "look right and please".)

“Am I pretty?” “Am I pretty enough?” “Does he think I’m pretty?” “Does he think I’m sexy?” “Am I skinny enough?” "Am I too skinny?" My nose is too big!” “My chest is too flat!” “Oh, no. I’m too dark!” "Oh, no. I'm too light!" “All the girls in my class think I’m ugly!”

Vanity and our dangerous obsession with looks has definitely grown at an exponential rate over the years. It consumes our minds, day in and day out. Think about it. How important are your looks to you? Your skin, your skin tone, your nose, your forehead, your lips, your hair, your weight, your chest? How many thoughts surrounding these areas consume your mind each day? How important is being "pretty" to you?

Be honest.

You like the idea of being thought of as pretty. "Pretty" is a title that most girls, if not all, would love to have. The truth: You might not be considered a pretty girl. There, I said it. Are you dead yet? Has the food fallen out of your mouth yet? I didn’t think so.  It feels like as a society we’re being bullied into calling other girls/ladies “pretty” to placate their egos and/or convince them of self-worth. The notion that all girls must be pretty to be happy is silly. It's as if a girl/woman not being considered pretty is some sort of death sentence for her. (By the way, it’s not.)

If you're waiting to be pretty to have a great life, you are successfully wasting your life. 

Contrary to popular belief, you weren’t born to be pretty. Some people are born with features that happen to be pleasing to mass culture and others aren’t. So? I mean, really? Our problem is that we’ve made “pretty” synonymous with worthy and valuable and significant. We’ve made a terrible mistake and we keep paying for it by the negative disruption our insecurities about our looks have on our lives, the way we feel about ourselves, the way we interact and engage with others, and the way we disregard our God-given purpose. (Let’s thank social media, entertainment, and our communities for their assistance with this. Think of the public adoration of “pretty girls” and the consequent boom of the plastic surgery industry. Not to mention the frighteningly rising cases of female anorexia/bulimia in recent years.)

If you're waiting to be pretty to have a great life, you are successfully wasting your life. 

The reason your looks can depress you is not your features in itself (when I was little I didn’t care about the size of my nose until someone told me it was “too big”); it is because you’ve been taught to use your looks as the barometer for your worth. It’s because people have directly and indirectly told you that your looks will be their deciding factor for loving you, finding you valuable, or including you in their groups. (Think about all the women who get older and fall into devastation at the “loss” of their young and wrinkle-free “pretty face”.)

If you're waiting to be pretty to have a great life, you are successfully wasting your life.  

If you don’t feel pretty or others don’t consider you pretty, so what? What does pretty have to do with your faith and your success in life? Consider all the notable women in the Bible that were women of God and followers of Christ. I have a feeling they spent a bit more time focused on the Word of God for their lives and less time focused on being the prettiest chicas. Look at all the people you admire and look up to. I doubt you consider all of them pretty. Yet, they still matter…GREATLY.

If you're waiting to be pretty to have a great life, you are successfully wasting your life. 

What does pretty have to do with loving others and greatly impacting their lives daily? I haven't gotten the memo yet that states only pretty girls can be kind, compassionate, and of service to others. What does pretty have to do with your spiritual and personal growth? Last I checked, there’s nowhere in the Bible that says “only pretty girls go to heaven” or “only pretty girls can have a relationship with Christ.” What does pretty have to do with your chosen thoughts, words, and actions? I haven’t read or heard anywhere that pretty women are known to have better thoughts, words, or actions. What does pretty have to do with who you are as a beloved spiritual being? NADA.

If you're waiting to be pretty to have a great life, you are successfully wasting your life.

If you don’t think of yourself as pretty or people don’t call you pretty, I challenge you to do something unbelievable. I challenge you to have a GREAT life anyways.  I challenge you to acknowledge that this attitude from others might upset you but resolve to follow your God-given purpose and make an indelible mark on this world. I challenge you to smile, laugh, cry, eat well, dance well, pray well, and ENJOY your life. I challenge you to thank God for your existence and ask Him how you can be used of great service to yourself, your family, your community, and your world. I challenge you to love your looks even if you don’t like everything about them. I challenge you to care more about your value in the eyes of God, who created you with purpose, and not people who can barely tell their left from their right. I challenge you to accept that you might not be a pretty girl but you can surely be a beautiful woman. I challenge you to use your life as PROOF to yourself that you are more, MUCH more, than a face and a body - which happens to be TRUE. 

You just have to make the choice to accept it.


p.s. If you enjoyed this post and want more like it, make sure to share it with your friends and let me know in the comments section below lovelies. If you don't agree and have another opinion to share, drop a comment as well; I'd love to know what you're thinking:) If you prefer social media, you can also stay in touch with me via Twitter or Google+ - I can't wait to hear from you!

Disclaimer: I do not believe anything is wrong with being pretty. I do not believe dressing up or taking care of your face/body is wrong. I do not believe anything is wrong with receiving compliments on your looks. However, I do believe there is a huge problem when you make an idol of yourself/your looks and put pretty above God and above your God-given purpose. I do believe there is a huge problem when you insult/demean others based on their looks. This post is for any of you that have allowed your looks to either depress you or cripple you or encourage you to be mean and insulting towards others - you have been distracted and you have been operating as less than the grateful, loving, and serving being that you were born to be.

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8 comments:

  1. A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. See the link below for more info.

    #nothing
    www.mocsbar.com

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  2. Well written Ada, with the right sentiments too.
    A lot, as in, A LOT of people battle with depression but it seems to be a malady that isn't really given any attention in Nigeria- "You're sad? Ehen? It'lll pass now....."
    Its a lot deeper than that....:)
    Saw your article on Bellanaija- 5 gifts of rejection- and, it spoke to me.
    Lovely blog too. I will be visiting often.
    Stay blessed.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the compliments, Dido! Depression is such a crippling distraction from living better and serving others better. The more we refuse to address it, the more it expands and the more it takes control of our lives. The key is to admit and deal with it but we have a culture filled with pride and shame that makes people feel too terrified to accept it. We need to become more courageous and start looking at vulnerability as the only way to our better lives.

      As for rejection, I wrote that article knowing that I was going to have to refer to it throughout my life. Rejection can pain o, lol. We always need reminders about our capabilities and forgotten strength in such moments.

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  3. Beautiful piece, I think the beauty of someone is seen in a relationship not from across the corner, that's when you see the their soul.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Damian!:)

      I agree, beauty has much more to do with essence than physique - even though I admit that we see with our eyes first. We just have to be open to go beyond looks to find hidden gems in ourselves and others.

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  4. thanks for the guidelines, really helpful.

    www.triciajoy.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Tricia!! Feel free to email me if you have any questions or thoughts you'd like to discuss :)

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  5. Couldn't be written any better. Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!


    Rhida
    www.gofastek.com

    ReplyDelete