I’ve never really written about feeling beautiful and yet it is a huge part of my testimony. In many ways, learning to feel beautiful was the first step to finding freedom. Not just freedom in my marriage bed, but in all of life. One thing I have recognized is how much my past impacted how I felt about myself.
Years ago, I probably would have said I didn’t struggle with body image issues or feeling beautiful. But honestly, I didn’t struggle because I eliminated the possibility that someone might think I was beautiful. Rather than face my insecurities, I answered the question myself. I was not beautiful, never had been, and never would be.
When I was a kid, my brother and I ran around as Batman and Robin – of course the R stood for Ruth. I loved to keep up with my big brother climbing huge oak trees in the hills behind our house and playing tree tag. Wearing my brothers hand me downs served me well as I spent my days catching snakes, riding bikes and building forts.
But I felt most comfortable tossing a ball. In 5th grade one of the neighborhood coaches invited me to play little league baseball the first year they allowed girls to play with the boys, and I loved it!
My parents were great about letting me do what came naturally, but it wasn’t all easy. Some of my most pain-filled memories were being mistaken as a boy. I grew to loathe the term tomboy. Wearing dresses felt awkward and I hated being noticed. I remember feeling so uncomfortable at school dances all dressed up and standing there like a wall flower.
By the time I entered middle school I had already picked out body parts that I didn’t like about myself. I have man size hands and feet. My dad actually wears a 13. I remember shoe shopping for a Size 10 ½ and store after store telling us that they only carried up to a 10 for girls. Wearing Vans became my norm because they were the closest thing to unisex that I could find.
I also had very small breasts and I hated bra shopping. Still afraid that I might be mistaken as a boy, all I wanted to do was to get out of there.
Everything that had to do with feeling pretty or feminine felt uncomfortable.
My past impacted how I felt about myself, and I held those experiences close to my heart to be shared with no one. They probably held a lot control over me than they should have.
When I started opening up to God and to my husband, I entered a season of remembering past painful experiences and sharing them with my husband and trusted friends. As I shared, I started to heal. Those past experiences don’t have to define who I am.
Though your story is probably very different then mine, we all have things that impact how we feel about ourselves. It might have been how you were treated, what someone said, or maybe even what they didn’t say. Your childhood may have made you feel like all your worth came from your looks and if they weren’t perfect then you don’t measure up. Maybe your parents spent all their time telling you were beautiful on the inside, so you just assumed you weren’t beautiful on the outside. We all have things that impacted the lens of how we view ourselves.
I am not trying to bash our parents. They did their best based on how they were raised. I am just trying to understand what formed our ideas about our self worth.
Spend some time thinking about what past experiences influenced how you felt about your body and whether you are beautiful.
What past experiences or messages impacted you?