In returning to my “roots of beauty project” notes this morning, I’ve come across one of the more difficult questions that I asked…and it seems, had to answer.

When you see a girl or woman who is beautiful, how do you respond in your heart?

My interviewing of 100 female friends and family on the roots of their beauty beliefs seemed to yield many different truths and myths that we all share. However, this one question seemed to stop most of us in our tracks, forcing us to be brutally honest. Women ranging from the age of 13 to 79, admitting that we generously size each other up, compare, assume and judge. Confessing to nasty attitudes and suspicions about beautiful women we come across. Taking liberties and stabs within the privacy of our minds, and taking us down peg after peg in our own hearts. No matter the effort we put into feeling pretty or taking care of ourselves, we would allow ourselves to be so easily derailed by an attractive peer. There were exceptions. Ladies who had become so secure and comfortable in who they are that they didn’t seemed bothered, sadly they were few.

One conversation in particular I will share ( with her permission) was with someone at the complete opposite end of the spectrum than me, yet we seemed to find common ground. My friend struggles daily with a raging eating disorder. Severely restricting food intake and when she can’t take it one more minute, allowing herself to binge and purge. She has been in recovery, and is still working toward recovery. She was very eager to share her point of view in hopes of shedding a new light in the arena. What I found was that her reactions were startlingly similar to my own.

Finding in our exchange, that I may sit down to eat at a restaurant and see her. A thin and beautiful girl picking at a side salad leaving me to feel enormous and almost naked. Feeling unable to relax. Longing for the ease of that skinny life. Feeling unable to ever live in a world where ordering a side salad for dinner is even a reality. So what the hell?! Lets have a double cheeseburger, cheese fries and milkshake to bury the self loathing.
Now realizing that she, looking at me, feels much of the same longing. (!) To be able to sit down in a restaurant and order what she wants, and actually eat it. Actually enjoy it. Not care about the constantly morphing ways of the body. To be free, and not bound by the slavery of restriction and emptiness. To not feel so naked. Unable to imagine a reality where allowing herself to be full, would be ok. So she buries the self loathing a little deeper, wants to make herself smaller and smaller.

Maybe it has some connection to the original deception with Eve and the forbidden fruit? The original food deception. The link between eating and power for women. The beginning of our self loathing and realization of nakedness. A darkness that can only flee in the light. All we can do is drag it out of the darkness, talk about it honestly, and expose it to this light. Allow ourselves the same generosity we give to our dearest friends. Allow ourselves to be clothed in grace.
I pray that God would bring us healing, so that we can raise daughters who celebrate each other and lift each other UP. That He would give us strength to reverse this trend of destruction toward ourselves and each other.


I love this quote:
“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.”
-Anais Nin

This poem is me breathing through my writing.
Crying out, hoping and praying there is a use for these feelings.
If only to identity with a friend whom may share,
” I thought I was the only one…”.


Her beauty is caught in the net of a moment.
Examined, appreciated then set free.

I truly wonder what it must feel like.

What does it feel like to wear what you want?
To shop and change clothes like I change the channel?
What must it feel like to be lean and light?
To fold yourself up and wrap delicate arms around long legs and hold them close in comfort?
To fasten a belt or pants or buttons without worry?
To apply makeup with no fear of sweat washing it away…smearing the work?
No fear of sweat ruining your hair?
No fear of sweat leaving you exposed for what you are, no way to hide it.
Betraying efforts of normalcy by beading on your forehead and lip-
defining your worth.
To just be in a room…without sizing up who may be bigger to let you off the hook?

Anyone? Anyone at all?

Envy rising from my toes to my sweaty eyes, pulling them into a roll.

This is the reaction I’ve learned pretty affords.

Because, pretty can’t be nice, right?
Pretty doesn’t have insecurities or doubts, right?

My assumptions suggest that pretty is pompous and pert.
Pretty is perfect and pure.
Pretty is pleasing and paisley and pastel.
Pretty is pink and purple and popular.
Polka dots and perfume.
Put together and polished.


But most days I remain altogether scattered.
Preserving what small pretty I can manage.
Pretending not to try and shrink smaller to avoid the alarming realizations-
that I will never know pretty.

Maybe she feels the exact same way?
Maybe she’s folded herself up to hide the flaws she feels are screaming out into a silent room starring?
She’s fastened buttons and hair with intention and flair.
She’s applied lotions and creams.
Fitted shirts, designer jeans.
Put herself together to conceal the dark spots no one will see.

We might be the same,
you and me.