This is a fashiony blog, but this post isn’t going to dwell too much on clothes and the ever-present buzzword, body confidence. When it comes to confidence, each person has a completely different set of situations and worries and insecurities that layer up, so it’s impossible to deal with specific body issues on a general blog like this. If you have a specific question about how to dress for your body shape or how to be more confident in your clothes, please let me know and I’ll help out in any way I can! We all have body issues. Humans have had body issues ever since Adam and Eve ate the fruit and suddenly became aware of their nakedness. This isn’t a new issue created by grocery store magazines yelling at you to start getting that perfect beach body for the summer. That’s a symptom of the problem, not the source of the problem.
I looked up Confidence and here are a few of the definitions that came up:
- the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.
- the state of feeling certain about the truth of something.
- a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.
The common thread through all of those definitions is the feeling of certainty. What that tells me is that confidence isn’t dependent on having an objectively beautiful face or the most fashionable body shape. (If you don’t think that there are fads in body shapes, you’re wrong. Ask me about it sometime.) A woman can have perfect skin and wear a size zero and still have body issues. Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, still two of the most influential beauty ideals of the past century, were both massively insecure about how they looked. They projected confidence, but they didn’t have it. If you don’t get your heart and mind right, no amount of externals will give you confidence.
It breaks my heart to see a beautiful woman who is overly-critical about herself and others. Don’t get me wrong here. I’m all in favor of being clear sighted and critical about myself. If I sin, I want to see that sin, so I can confess it and ask for forgiveness. But after that process is done, I’m confident enough in the goodness of my God to leave it behind and walk away happy. That contains some self criticism, but it isn’t a constant state of being. Hypercritical is a different animal. A hypercritical person can have a very hard time leaving things behind and the criticism takes a hundred different forms. Lying in bed remembering something embarrassing that you said two years ago. Not accepting compliments, because you don’t think you deserve them. Apologizing constantly for things that don’t offend anybody except yourself. Not using your gifts, because you don’t think they are good enough to share or even bring up. Being too afraid to go for it, because you’re afraid you’ll fail or be embarrassed or say something wrong or die or all of the above. Beating yourself up about something you should have done, but didn’t.
The hard part about criticism, especially self-criticism, is that it can masquerade as humility. If you turn up the doubts, they can drown out what’s actually going on. I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of doubt and it’s dark. It’s dark and dusty and scary and it’s just you down there. If you get to the point where you think you can’t do anything right, you get stuck, because you’re too afraid to do anything.
Another common response to doubts is to try and compensate for perceived lacks. This is the old “Well, I’m not pretty, but at least I’m smart” scenario and it looks different for each person. It can be talking too much, because you’re nervous. Looking for affirmation in followers and likes. Sticking with what you are good at and avoiding things that you probably won’t be good at, so you keep developing your strengths and ignoring weaknesses. Focusing on the things you think you can control (your look, your house, your job, your family, your ideals) and pushing down the things you can’t control, until you can look perfect from the outside and feel like an absolute mess on the inside. It’s the equivalent of stuffing everything into a closet when people come over, but your soul is the closet. I’ve been in the hypercritical camp before, but overcompensating is my main temptation. While criticism can mask itself as humility, overcompensating can mask itself as confidence, but it’s the difference between being brave and having swagger that makes you LOOK brave. Usually I turn on the faux-confidence when I’m at my most terrified. It’s not a good solution. Scratch that – it’s not a solution at all.
Of course we lack confidence. We’re broken. We long to be whole. We long to be immortal, perfect, in control. We want to go back to the Garden, back before every day was a reminder of death. But the temptation is to try to go back the wrong way. That’s why we try (and always fail) to deal with our failures, our shortcomings, our imperfections. We want to fix ourselves. But we can’t fix ourselves. Sometimes we forget that that is the good news. It’s the best news, because there’s a way back to the Garden that actually works. Have confidence in Christ’s ability to fix you. Don’t try to fix your own brokenness, even a little bit. In a world where every human is either trying to fix their problems or ignore their problems, the truth that you can’t fix your own problems and that there is a Savior who can fix the problem is water in a drought.
Christians should be the most confident people in the world. Romans 8:31 asks a question, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” That’s the overwhelming question, isn’t it? Why do we hide? Why are we afraid? Why aren’t we satisfied? Why do we try to fix ourselves? Because we look for confidence in all the wrong places.
For practical application, here are few things that will help you if you struggle with confidence:
- Trust God and trust true friends. That’s a confidence you can rely on.
- Give thanks for what you have.
- Be honest with yourself.
- Distinguish vague doubts from real issues that need to be addressed. Don’t let past embarrassments or anxiety about the future cloud the here and now.
- Go ahead and laugh. Life isn’t as serious as all that.
- Be kind. Be generous.
- Go for it. Live life boldly. If you fail, you fail. God is for us. Why should we go tiptoeing around? My prayer right now is for God to give me chutzpah. That covers it, I think.
I love you all. I know you have body issues and confidence issues and worries creep in. Believe me, I have them. That’s why I have to preach to myself. If you ever want to talk through stuff, let me know. I’m right here.