One of the deepest questions of a woman’s heart is, “Am I beautiful?” There’s a deep ache within every woman to be cherished, to be celebrated, to be LOVED. Marketing and social media play off these desires. “If you look this way, you’ll get that guy.” “If you dress this way, you’ll be accepted.” “If you buy this thing, you’ll be more beautiful.”
But nothing on a shelf will ever give us what we truly desire.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus is strongly encouraged to condemn and allow the stoning of the woman caught in adultery. Mary Magdalene, in the sincerity of her longing, is seeking to satisfy her thirst for love, acceptance, truth. Because of her choices, the scribes and pharisees accuse her, point out her flaws and failures and humiliate her. Yet, Jesus does not do this. He sees her heart. He sees her exhaustion in trying other means to be fulfilled; he sees that her sin is a misguided attempt at finding him.
Jesus has desperately communicated to us that he wants to make us new and break every lie about who God is and who we are; including the heresies that “My body is bad,” “I am ugly” and “I am not good.” Lies! One of the very first things we hear in sacred Scripture is that we are made in the image and likeness of God. So when we condemn ourselves, pick ourselves apart and criticize our bodies, we’re insulting the Father who created us in his image.
I spent many years following Jesus, while at the same time hating my body. I just thought women were destined to hate themselves. I despised my curves and my untameable mane, and wished my metabolism was like my friend’s who could eat a pint of ice cream and miraculously not have trouble squeezing into her jeans the next day.
God has had me on a continual journey to find his acceptance of me and accept myself. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.
1. Speak the truth.
In a world full of lies, it’s hard to hear the truth about who we are. The truth is we are made in the image and likeness of God, and we are good because he is good. Proclaim the truth.
*Especially in moments of temptation, instead of indulging the lie, speak the truth.
*Pray for God to speak the truth when you can’t find the truth.
*WRITE THE TRUTH DOWN. Put in on your mirror, journal, bedstand, or make it a reminder on your phone.
2. Cut comparison out of your diet.
Comparison is a vicious circle of jealousy, competition, division, isolation, lies, insecurity and self-hatred. We all know the father of lies plots to divide and conquer.
Practice these in moments of temptation:
*“Lord, thank you for her __________. It is a beautiful part of who she is, and you created your daughter that way.”
*Find the good in the person you’re struggling with and compliment her on it.
*When tempted to gossip, pray a Hail Mary or any prayer that will help you focus on Christ.
By the grace of baptism, we are given a share in the priest, prophet and kingly roles of Christ. In his name, by his life, we have the power to cast out what is not of him.
*Try a prayer like this: “In the name of Jesus, I cast out the spirit of jealousy or the lie that I’m not pretty.”
*Read “Unbound” by Neal Lozano for a greater understanding of deliverance and healing.
4. Treat Yo Self!
Your body is good. When you take proper care of your body, you are loving yourself. Pray for balance between two extremes. We eat healthy to live healthy. We exercise because we love our bodies, not because we hate them. I am still a work in progress, but it is a great mercy to myself to eat healthy and exercise well.
5. Go to The Body for your image.
We can do nothing without God’s grace. Period. Spending time with Jesus in the Eucharist or receiving him at Mass is the best thing you can do! Go to him with your insecurities, wounds, fears. Let him work it all out for you and heal your heart. “I do not see you the way that you see you,” the Lord spoke to me a number of years ago, and it changed me. I begged him then to heal my blindness and give me his eyes. I begged him to let me see me the way he does, and to see him for who he is. This is a powerful prayer, and he will answer it.
Secondly, go to the Blessed Mother! The truth is that femininity is not a look. Nekevah is the Greek word for “woman,” which means to be open, to be receptive. Our openness to Christ, our surrender (like Our Lady’s!), our willingness to let him into the darkness and wounds, is the height of our femininity. It doesn’t matter if you are a girly-girl or a tomboy. To be feminine is to be open to God! Our Lady is the blueprint of the woman that we seek to be. Mary doesn’t grasp. Eve grasped. We grasp; grasp for control, attention, affection, likes, follows…is it working?! Our own open fiat gives us the freedom that comes from being fully alive in Christ.
RECAP: Firstly, we must know that we are in a battle. We’re bombarded with lies. The truth of the Good News is that Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life, and he is accessible to all of us. Secondly, this is an ongoing battle. The lies will never stop being told. The truth of the Good News is that Jesus wants to walk with us on our journey to freedom. Lastly: The world will say they will love you if you are beautiful—but the truth is you are beautiful because you are loved by God, our Good Father.
Megan Mastroianni has been in ministry since she graduated from Franciscan University. She currently serves at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as the Associate Director of Anthem and continues to speak all over the country. Megan is always humbled that God uses the weak to lead the strong. You can reach her at anthemphilly.com.