Up until 5th grade, I expressed myself through my hair, clothing, personality, etc. In 5th grade, I became conscious of social standards… and it broke me. I suddenly had a mold to fit into, with people constantly reminding me that I didn’t fit that mold.
Fast forward to high school where I became a copy of everyone around me. I did everything I could to fit in: dressing in ways my parents didn’t approve of, wearing feature-altering makeup every day, speaking in a way that was not God-honoring (let alone kind), and seeking “love” from guys. Mentally this was taking a toll. I developed a very unhealthy relationship with food. I had these thoughts that “if only I got approval from enough guys; if only I was skinny enough; if only I had all the right clothes; if only my parents weren’t so strict; then I would feel good about myself…then I would truly feel loved.”
As you can imagine, the “success” of this life was short-lived. I hated myself, I constantly felt guilty. I felt ugly. I felt objectified. I felt so unloved. I knew that the only way to feel truly loved was to get it from God. I knew He loved me, that He created me to be fearfully and wonderfully made, but for it to matter I had to believe it. That was the struggle.
Psalm 139:14 (ESV) “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
I don’t have a perfect answer to achieve this, but I can tell you what worked for me.
Firstly, I surrounded myself with kind people and stopped wearing makeup completely. I knew the people around me wouldn’t say anything to tear me down, that I was in a safe environment for growth and that I needed to take that opportunity. The first time I did that was last summer, and I am so thankful I did.
Another helpful habit was keeping Psalm 139:14 written out in places I would often see. It was a constant reminder that my feelings of inadequacy were the world’s lies.
I also deleted TikTok and unfollowed a lot of influencers on Instagram, namely ones that I would crave to look more like, ones whose whole page was about fitness, thinspo, fashion, or simply overemphasizing their bodies in their posts.
Lastly, I stopped heavily editing my photos on Instagram, specifically altering my body. Having less worldly input on what the “ideal woman” looks like, allowed me to have the freedom to be who I wanted to be and more importantly, who God wanted me to be.
These are all things I did for myself, but to believe that I was fearfully and wonderfully made, I had to let God help me too. After much trial and error, I finally dropped the worldly “love/comfort” inputs and searched for and found love and comfort in God. I intentionally went to Him in prayer or worship when I felt inadequate, sad, scared, anxious, or angry. After practicing this habit for a while, it became just that, a habit. Now God is my main source of love and comfort, and that burden doesn’t fall on someone else (and it shouldn’t because humans will always fail you). It’s something I have to constantly work on to be consistent with. I still believe lies sometimes, but I work through it again and believe that YES I AM fearfully and wonderfully made.