Woman Looking Up

The world will never change its perception of beauty, and the hollowness continues to grow. In fact, studies are now showing when a female puts on weight and is considered average looking, her earning potential drops. Cornell University Associate Professor John Cawley found when the average white woman puts on an additional 64 pounds, wages dropped 9 percent. Another study by Jennifer Shinall, the author of Occupational Characteristics and the Obesity Wage Penalty, found the penalty for being overweight will cost a female to lose 9,000 dollars in wages per year if she's 13 pounds overweight. “When a woman becomes overweight, she is increasingly less likely to work in a personal interaction or personal communication occupation. And the heaviest women in the labor market are the least likely individuals to work in personal interaction occupations,” Shinall said.

To add indignity to Shinall's findings, most women don't consider themselves to be beautiful. Popular culture and the mass media created a false perception no woman can ever fulfill and that's having perfection. A woman's life consists of more than looks. She's talented, smart, confident and strong. But this doesn't equate to what the world's version of beauty is. The Bible shares our looks will go down the drain, but the words are softer. "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised," Proverbs 31:30 explained. Beauty can't be summed up on the cover of a glossy magazine. It is up to us to accept what true glamour is and work on redefining beauty for ourselves. Move over washboard abs and having the perfect figure, it's time to reassemble self-esteem from the inside out.

Treat yourself with kindness.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but can we become kinder to ourselves? People with low self-esteem see themselves as the victim. They're also hesitant to express themselves authentically and will engage in negative self-talk. You are valuable and the God of the universe accepts you. Think kind thoughts that are contaminated with inward malice. Imagine if you heard a child berating themselves in a ungracious manner. You wouldn't put up with it, so don't do this to yourself. For example, you can say: "I am blessed and I am favored whether I feel like it or not." You can also do something for yourself like take a hot bath, take up a hobby or join a local writer’s group to invest in your talents.

Be positive.

We live in a cranky world and it will do you good to be positive. In turn, you will see more beauty in your life. No one has a perfect day or season. The best thing to do is to make the commitment to ourselves we are going to thrive despite the downers in our lives. We only want to be positive when we are assured things will work out the way we've planned. We need to move away from fear and choose what's edifying to our spirits. Fear comes in all forms and can strike at any time. We are told by Jesus in John 14:27 He will give us peace. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." Make room for new positive things. If you’ve put off cutting off relationships that are toxic, habits or feel that you’re stuck in a rut, start trimming negative influences. Overall, start speaking something positive today and watch your thoughts catch up with you.

Be an individual.

Find what makes you unique and pour yourself into it. Know you don't have to be like everyone else and understand it too, has a price. The Journal of the American Psychological Association explained people who suffer under perfectionism experience depression and anxiety. “Other than those people who have suffered greatly because of their perfectionism or the perfectionism of a loved one, the average person has very little understanding or awareness of how destructive perfectionism can be." Start making a list of all your strengths and talents. This will help start to narrow your focus and keep you from trying to be like everyone else. Quit comparing yourself to the people who seem to have it all together and embrace individuality because let's face it, no one is perfect. If you feel overwhelmed and don't have the strength to reach out to God, the Bible reminds us in Isaiah 40:29 that we are strong. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” 

Accept your flaws.

What you perceive as a weakness could be a strength for you. Even, if it's not, well, let it go. Changing your mindset is important if you don't want mistakes to cement you into the past. No matter what the failure was or is being centered on the loss will take away mental freedom. Strip internal judgments and know we all have flaws. Meditate on a couple powerful Scriptures to help fight self-condemnation when you make a mistake. Breakaway from the old nature and see yourself a person who is whole and who doesn't need to be unblemished. We must go the extra mile to appreciate the value in being novel. Confidence is a by-product of "Inner power that propels us to keep taking action, bypassing our fears and self-doubts," wrote best-selling author Agapi Stassinopoulos. When we accept our flaws, we can begin to rise above setbacks and feeling dread after making a mistake. We question ourselves and fill ourselves with negative input that paralyzes us, making ourselves feel like we've failed before we've even begun. Be brave and be yourself.

Find happiness outside of people.

When we can tap into our own inner beauty, we will become good friends with ourselves. We hear all the time how being in a relationship will bring you happiness. Forgive those, even if they don't deserve it because unforgiveness will only tarnish your glow. If you keep company with people who complain and gossip, the soul will be contaminated and when you're not feeling so good internally, it can create more problems. You need to be an advocate for yourself before you can be a friend to someone else. 

Confess you have a purpose.

Being a Christian is hard stuff but God has a purpose for all people if we want to follow it. Confess: “God I believe that you have a great plan for me." The more you exercise this, the more your faith will grow. Whatever happened along the way to drown your purpose out--it is time to move on. You can embrace your own beauty and sense of purpose when being open to God. Visualize yourself overcoming challenges and living with determination and of course, purpose. 

Fake feeling better.

We know feeling pretty is not all about outward approaches, but if you start smiling, changing your posture and laughing more, you can look great and feel assured. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy found you can feel more confident and handle stress better by using better posture. "We have this evidence, both that the body can shape the mind, at least at the facial level, and also that role changes can shape the mind," Cuddy said. Push yourself to feel confident and then you will look poised. This is not easy, but this can be used as another tool for those not-so-good days.

Okay, we all want Angelina Jolie's pouty lips and want the perfect body to feel good about ourselves. There is nothing wrong with this unless it becomes your identity. Create your own kind of beautiful on your own terms and see where it leads you.
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