Yes, you ARE beautiful

““You are beautiful, whether you know it or not.”

“We are all beautiful.”

“Everyone is beautiful to somebody.”

It’s cheerful stuff. It builds the self-esteem, makes people feel valued, and spreads joy and happiness across the internet.

It’s also b**ls**t.”

Have you seen this article making its waves around social media? I’ve seen lots of girls post it online saying things like “Read to the end. I think this is really important.” “Someone speaks the truth!” and things of that nature.

And I think it’s a bunch of baloney.

The author assumes that by “beautiful” we mean physically appealing. He says that the world owns the term and we need to let go of it – that it’s useless and only has to do with our physical make-up. By that judgement, people with tumors (like he said) and the guy making a weird face in the article would not be beautiful.

But I challenge that view.

Are you telling me that neither of these people are beautiful?

The definition of beautiful tells us that it means:  possessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc., excellent of its kind, wonderful; very pleasing or satisfying. It’s true that many people today use the term beautiful to indicate curb appeal. Yes, that’s dumb. And I agree with how the article ended:

“I want to tell you something, whoever you are. I don’t know if you’re beautiful, funny, smart, friendly, musical, caring, diligent, athletic, or anything else about you. All I know is this:

You are valuable.

You are important.

You are interesting.

You are worth loving.

So forget about “beautiful”. It’s become an ugly word anyway.”

But as I read the article and saw people talking about it online, I simply don’t agree with what they are saying: that telling someone they are beautiful is lame because it’s just saying how sexy they are or how visually appealing their body is.

Enter the document “The Feeling of Things, the Contemplation of Beauty“.

In this document I read for my Christian Moral Life class last semester, Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote about how beauty has something to do with pain. Plato explained the encounter with beauty as the “salutary emotional shock that makes man leave his shell and sparks his enthusiasm by attracting him to what is other than himself”.

Gosh, let that sink in. It makes me think about sunsets and the moment when you stare into the night sky and only stars stare back at you. When you’re holding a content baby and they just smile at you. When you see an athlete finally accomplish something amazing they had worked toward for a long time. When a person who has a handicap walks or does something society said they would never be able to do. You know what? Those are beautiful moments. And there is not another word that describes them so well.

Did any of those moments have to do with a visually appealing person?

Um, nope. Not really. Athletes are pretty sweaty. And babies give a tangible meaning to all types of bodily exports.

There are all kinds of situations and people who attract you to something bigger than yourself – to truth and beauty Himself. Some of those people might have bodily deformities (like the above pictures). Some of those people are normal people with bumps and lumps and pimples and freckles.

So yes. You are interesting and important and valuable and worth a whole lot. Really, you are. I could write a whole post on it (and sort of already did).

You have the ability connect your fellow human beings to something bigger than yourself – to pierce our hearts so deeply that we cannot help but be drawn to this deep sense of something awesome.

And that, my friends, is beautiful.

 

Connect with me on FacebookTwitterBloglovin’ or by email!

5 Things 21st Century Ladies Need to Hear

5things21stcenturyladiesneedtohear

 

Dear fellow ladies of the 21st century,

Some people say we’ve got it easy. We’ve got the answer to nearly any question we have available at the touch of a button. We have an overabundance of food, clothing, and all the necessities of life at our fingertips. What’s to complain about, right? Well, not much. But the fact is that many people are still hurting and terribly unsatisfied in life.

Why? I think a lot of the time we try to satisfy our deepest longings for truth and beauty with the fleeting pleasures of the world. Standing in line we whip out the smartphone and see what’s been posted in the last 12.4 seconds on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s harder to take time to write a letter or *GASP* actually talk to someone. It’s the world we live in.

But I take great pleasure in being counter-cultural in many ways.

What society tells us is plain messed up sometimes (seen the latest magazine covers?). So here I am with a different message. You might be older or younger than me; taller, more experienced, and probably better than me at many things. But we’re all in this thing called life together. I want you to know that. There are lots of things I want you to know, remember, and repeat often. Here are some of them:

You are beautiful. Yes, it’s cheesy and people tell you this on your duck face profile pictures all the time. But I want you to know that random comments about how sexy that picture is don’t do you much justice. Being beautiful is a lot more than that.

Beauty is your laugh, and when you share your heart with a friend. It’s when you’re vulnerable by allowing people to get to know you for who you are. When you hide behind a foot of makeup and a hair-do that takes an hour to prep you’re still beautiful, but we can’t really see you. Know that who you are in and of itself makes you beautiful and awesome. Be the person that has dreams and talents and a smart head on her shoulders. People will see your authenticity and appreciate that about you. And never forget to smile!

 

Don’t compare yourself to other people. Seriously. I think this is one of the hardest things about living in the 21st century. Oh! So-and-so just posted pictures on Instagram of her vacation and doesn’t she always have the perfect hair and clothes! Another girl posted cute picture with her friends. Isn’t their hair/clothes/abs just perfect? Goshdarnit! Now I need to go work out. If I could be half as awesome as them, it would be amazing!

Nuh uh. Stop it.

That girl on vacation? Maybe she’s using it as time to get away from her abusive boyfriend. She focuses on her clothes and hair a lot so she doesn’t have to talk about how hard her life is. Those girls on Facebook? They were fighting the night before they took that picture and a couple of them are faking their smiles. Maybe the fake smilies are hiding something they don’t want to talk about.

I could go on and on, but the point is that with all the social media right now it’s very easy to feel bad about ourselves because we only see the best parts of people they put on the internet. But that’s not reality. Work on becoming the best version of yourself and slowly these people won’t affect you as much. And please don’t say you want to be half as good as someone else. You are 100% as awesome as yourself already.

Don’t judge other people. It’s hard, believe me (and yes I fail at this a lot). But it it will make your life so much happier if you give people the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the person who cut you off on the road is driving their passenger to the hospital. Maybe your friend who said something super rude didn’t mean it the way it sounded to you. We all mess up, so no one is perfect. Most of the time we don’t know for certain the motivation behind what someone does. So don’t assume you know it. Assume the best.

This is quite a challenge, but I encourage you to find what works for you. Do you need to walk away from certain kinds of situations? Take a run? Count to 10? Do it. Read your emails and texts before you send them. Speaking from experience, you’ll be thankful you did!

And if someone really is being rude take a deep breath, wait until you can respond with a clear mind, and pray for them. Every person we come in contact with is a lesson for us to learn. Maybe they will build us up and encourage us, but sometimes people are there to challenge you and push you to become a better version of yourself.

It’s not all about us. More people need to hear this. Yes, you are awesome. But you have your gifts and talents for a purpose, not to brag about them. Use your abilities for the common good, and help people through them. It’s amazing how doing something for other people can make you a better person and teach you so much.

You are worth fighting for. If no one in your life has told you that you are worthy of the utmost respect, let me be the first. Now don’t go strutting around with your nose in the air expecting people to bow in your presence. But do respect others in a way that compels them to treat you like a lady. You should spend less and less time with anyone who does not do this, because ain’t nobody got time fo’ negativity, girlfriend.

No matter how old you are, there will be times when you don’t feel like enough. Well guess what? You are. Even if you can’t see it. Your beauty and personality are unique and unrepeatable. Your true friends will see that and love you not for how you act of what you do, but because of who you are.

You have the ability to change someones life – don’t ever forget that. You are a powerful witness to the good in the world if you allow yourself to see the good around you and reveal it to others.

Dream big, and never forget this: You are beautiful. Don’t compare. Don’t judge. It’s about other people too. And you’re worth fighting for.

Now go get ’em!

 

P.S. What else would you tell the modern lady? Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Bloglovin’ – and tell me there or in the comments (or an email!) what you would say!

NAS: Chastity is a Choice

This week’s topic:

Chastity – A Choice
Living chastely (not just abstinence) is a choice. Have you ever had to defend your choice to live out chastity? If not, why do you choose chastity?

I’ve never had to defend my point of view on this matter probably because I don’t talk about it with too many people. The people I do talk about it with probably all hold similar views to mine. People who would question me probably don’t because how random is that to bring up if you’re not already talking about it?

Aaaanyway.

We are so bombarded with unchaste messages all day every day. Seriously. Just the other day when I went to see Gimme Shelter, pretty much every blessed preview had some risque scene (or two or ten) without clothes that involved some degree of non-committed men making out with sexy women. And to think within the last century people of the opposite gender weren’t even allowed to be pictured in movies in the same BED without at least one foot on the floor. Most of the time couples had separate beds. People, we’ve come so far. And not in the right direction.

It is my belief that some things should remain sacred. To a world who doesn’t understand this concept so well: it’s called a little mystery. I don’t want to see your body parts revealed by immodest clothing because I don’t need to see body parts to see you. You’re so much more than body parts. Your smile and personality tell me so much more.

Living a chaste life these days is probably really weird to some people. I mean, why? Everyone’s out there hooking up with people they don’t know, right? Well, wrong. Sure, some people are, but deep down I think most people (and I’m talking about mostly women because that’s what I am and understand) hunger for more.

I live a chaste life because the fleeting pleasures the world offers do not offer me happiness.

I live a chaste life because I know I am meant for more. And so are you!

Like our lovely emeritus Pope Benedict said:

“The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”

Some people might ask “How do you do it?” and I’d reply with the Nike motto: Just do it. Make the choice to live counter culturally. Surround yourself with people who hold similar values and they will build you up, not threaten to break down your standards. Don’t read or look at inappropriate things. Halt any impure thoughts with a prayer for the grace to live a life filled with a desire for what is good and holy. Chill with the Ryan Gossling memes, already. And don’t make Pinterest boards of hot men. Just making them secret so we can’t see does NOT count.

When steamy scenes come on tv, turn away. Better yet, turn it off. Act chastely by not inviting inappropriate attention, not because your body is not beautiful, but because you are made up of much more than the eye beholds.

That’s the long-winded answer to why I live chastely. Call it a cross if you will, but by being free of the worries the world offers with her ideas of how I should live, I am more free to be the woman I am made to me. It’s for my own good, the good of the people I am closest with, and ultimately setting me up for a better future than if I were to bring tons of baggage and brokenness to future relationships.

What are your thoughts?

On dressing like a hoochie mama

Ladies, this post is for you. I’m going to be honest and frank, so just hear me out.

Leggings. What’s the deal here? Love ’em, hate ’em? Do you wear them?

I do. Leggings are rather comfy if you ask me, and are convenient for making a winter outfit more warm. I’ve been wearing them quite a bit, actually. The catch? I only wear them under other articles of clothing. Now don’t stop reading. I’m not a crazy modesty freak who wears floor length jumpers. Though I don’t have many recent pictures to share, I can tell you that I strive to dress modestly and cutely at the same time. My sense of fashion is most definitely debatable, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

I’m here to talk about something  I heard last night.

Last night I went to a girls night talk with Sarah Swafford (who is AWESOME!). She’s like a big sister and a young mom at the same time. She gets us ladies. And she meets us where we’re at.

Last night many girls had questions about modesty in general, and if specific articles of clothing were appropriate. Of course, the legging debate came up. Are they acceptable? I mean, what’s the big deal, right?

I’ll tell you what she told us.

Over the past few years she’s sat down different groups of guys to ask them what challenges they’re facing. When leggings came up, here’s what the guys said:

When girls just wear leggings (or any skin tight pants), what they see is her silhouette. Nothing is left to the imagination. What they see is pretty much you. Naked.

Now, you say, “It’s not my responsibility what other people think! If a guy sins because of seeing me in what I like to wear, it’s his problem. Not mine.”

Let me tell you. I see the point. I actually get annoyed sometimes when people say that they cover themselves so that guys don’t sin. Why? Because I think there’s a lot more to it. I dress the way I do because 1. I don’t want that kind of attention. And 2. This picture.

What are you advertising when you wear leggings as pants? Apparently it’s your booty. You may be comfortable. You may have dressed this way forever. But guess what? You just might look a little like a hoochie mama. And ladies, let’s be real. No one wants to be a hoochie mama.

If you want to date a respectable guy, then why are you wearing something that is advertising parts of you that should not be on display? Is that going to convey the right message? When the guy you like sees you dressing like that, do you think he’s going to be drawn to your beautiful eyes, your character, or your great laugh?

No. No, he won’t. Because you’re distracting him.

Like Sarah said, don’t shoot the messenger. I’m writing this because I believe women out there need to hear this. They need to know that what we wear sends a signal to the world of who we are. It’s time we live up to our calling to “Be the light” of the world. It’s time we chuck physically revealing pieces of clothes out the window because really . . .

I want ladies out there to know that dressing like something they are not (ie. hoochie mamas) is not going to get them anywhere. For the guys in your life, the young ladies you are a role model for, and anyone you come in contact with: Dress in a way that instead of your cleavage and booty, reveals your true beauty and femininity. You were made for more.

Bikinis, bras, and panty-lines, oh my!

It’s not easy trying to dress modestly in the 21st century. With the “anything goes” attitude toward clothing nowadays, it can be rather difficult to go against the tide and find clothes that fit, are beautiful, and not reminiscent of cotton sacks grain used to come in. Too often now, I see beautiful, respectable girls dressing immodestly. I know dressing modestly does take a little extra effort, but it’s worth it. You owe it to yourself and the world around you to dress nicely.

You

Modesty has to begin within yourself. Dressing modestly tells the world that you are beautiful, and you know it. You know that beauty is much deeper than body parts. You want people to see you for more than your body, so you draw attention to what you want people to see: your character, your sense of humor, your generosity, your passion in life, and so much more. Dressing modestly comes from a desire to show the world what you are more than what the world tells you you are. You are so much more than a body. This is a message that the world needs to hear more and more; this is what we do by dressing modestly.

The World

You’ve heard it before: guys are tempted by immodest girls, so we should obviously not dress like that. It’s something that annoyed me at first, because should we really be dressing for other people? Well, partially. Modesty has to come from a personal desire to show the world you are more than a body. After you come to terms with that, yes, you do have to realize that how you dress will affect people around you. I don’t know about you, but I would never want to purposefully present myself as an occasion of sin for another person. This is why we try to keep others in mind while dressing. Dressing modestly invites the world to get to know you as a person, not a body to be used or sought after for no more than physical reasons.

But what does it mean to be modest?

Modesty is much more than how you dress. It’s how you carry yourself. It’s how you talk. A big part of it, though, is how you dress. That’s what I’m talking about right now. I’m talking about keeping things covered that should be covered, and allowing the world to see only the parts of us that they should be seeing. Here are issues (in no particular order) our culture has with modesty (especially geared toward summer clothing), and how to solve them.

Denim underwear: the problem

“What?!?!” you say? Who wears denim underwear? That’s just the thing. They’re not underwear, but that’s how they’re worn. Also known as daisy dukes, or short-shorts, these are short pants which basically cover not much more than underwear. Sometimes they are so short, the pockets hang below the hem. These are inappropriate for a modest girl’s closet because they are tight and hug the bottom closely. Instead of seeing a girl for more than her body, these draw attention to an area which should remain private.

Denim underwear: the solution

A variety of short pants are available which cover more than short-shorts.

fashion1

These are casual shorts which could be worn every day during summertime. They’re not skin-tight, nor do they draw too much attention to the area. Shorts like this are available through Landsend, and most retail stores. Also avalable are fashions such as Bermuda shorts, which go a little longer.

Camisoles worn as shirts: the problem

Cami’s were not meant to be worn as shirts. They were meant to be worn under other shirts as layering. This is not appropriate for a modest girl because camis do not cover as much as a shirt does. They reveal bra straps as well as bumps and lumps that show too much of the body. Though this can be tempting to do during hot weather, there are other options.

Camisoles worn as shirts: the solution

When it’s extremely hot outside, a tank top can be worn just as easily as a cami. When shopping, make sure to find tank tops that are comfortable, not too tight, and a breathable material that won’t make you sweat buckets.

Laura Scott Women's Ribbed Tank Top at Sears.com       Grisbi Women's Lace-Front Tank Top at Sears.com       Miss Erika Women's Tank Top - Tie-Dye at Sears.com     Kardashian Kollection Women's Georgette Tank Top - Confetti Print at Sears.com

Miniskirts: the problem

Miniskirts are inappropriate for the same reason as denim underwear. They’re too short, and show too much of that region. And while on the topic, I’m not really sure how a girl could be comfortable in one anyway. Toss these out! To test if your skirt is too short, bend over and see if anything shows that shouldn’t.

Miniskirts: the solution

Longer skirts are beautiful, respectful of a woman’s beauty, and even more feminine. I do not suggest wearing floor length skirts unless it is sub-freezing temperatures outside, but ones longer than miniskirts are preferable. Some of my favorite skirts of ones that cut me just above the knee (pictured below). Old Navy has excellent ones like the one below, but they do tend to be a little more expensive than I prefer.

Women's Embroidered Sateen Skirts

Bikinis: the problem

The problem with bikinis is that most of them cover less than underwear. Just because something is made out of swim suit material does not make it appropriate. Bikinis also draw obvious attention to places that should be kept private. Over-revealing bikinis do not honor a woman’s true beauty. I will never wear a bikini because I’m not comfortable showing that much skin. Though I can’t say all bikinis are inappropriate, I have never seen one I thought was modest.

Bikinis: the solution

Can you say tankinis?!?! Tankinis rock. They have the convenience of being a two piece, while still covering enough. While purchasing a tankini, be careful that the bottom is not super high-cut, and the top will stay put and not slip down. Experiment with a swim skirt too!

fashion2

Necklines: the problem

Plunging necklines are too revealing. No one needs to see a mile of cleavage. This draws too much attention to the chest area, and takes the onlooker’s gaze away from a woman’s face.

Necklines: the solution

This is where camisoles are a great solution! Camis can be layered with shirts that are too short and too low. You can even purchase patterned ones, ones with lace, or just plain ones to accent any outfit.

Bra straps: the problem

Shirts that show bra straps are cut in such a way that the straps can’t just be showed away. This happens often with tank tops that have racer backs (shown below), shirts that fall off the shoulder, and single-sleeved shirts. This is inappropriate because underwear should remain private. Seeing straps invites the mind to go places it shouldn’t – where the dignity of a woman is not honored. To prevent that from happening, straps should be covered.

Bra straps: the solution

Buy shirts that cover the entire shoulder area to be sure to keep straps tucked away. You can also buy one of those as see on on TV hooks that connects the two straps, or just buy a racer back bra.

Panty lines: the problem

Clothes that show panty lines are often too tight, or are those cotton-type knit dresses that can be clingy. This is inappropriate because we shouldn’t want the public thinking about our underwear. It invites others to think about us in a way that does not honor womanly dignity.

Panty lines: the solution

When it comes down to it, know that if you have to ask if something is appropriate, it probably isn’t. Honor your inner beauty by showing the outer world that you are more than body parts. Women are intricately beautiful creatures: something we must reflect in the way we dress.

If I didn’t cover an aspect of modesty you’d like me to include in a future post, lease leave the idea for me in the comment section or send it to me.

Carry on, beautiful ladies!

On fancy panties and the objectification of young girls

It’s not something I’ve talked about on here before, but hey. Sometimes you need to break free from your circle of normality. I’m about to talk about underwear.

I recently heard about Victoria’s Secret releasing a new line of unmentionables for young teenage girls. Their campaign name? “Bright Young Things”. Because that’s exactly what the young girls of America need: fancy panties and the title “thing”. I’m not posting pictures of the stuff on here, but this video gives you an idea…

In America, girls are inundated with this message: to be beautiful, you have look like a Hollywood actress. You have to be a size 2, have perfectly toned and tanned skin. Your hair and make-up must be flawless. Your clothes? They should obviously be super trendy and show as much as possible. I mean, who would like you if you can’t keep up with the latest trends and show the world everything you’ve got?!?!

Well, young girls of America, here’s something else you should know: you are not defined by your body or what you wear. You are so much more. You have a brain and are capable of being a highly educated person. You have a personality some people love. You have dreams. You aspire to be someone, to do something. I’m here to tell you that your future does not depend on what size you are or what your unmentionables look like.

I read a few interesting articles about this. Jenny said that she thought this was a good thing because girls need something pretty after outgrowing Dora. Joanna wrote that by denying young girls these fancy panties, we are “shaming” them into thinking they shouldn’t want them. While there is most certainly a time when girls outgrow Dora, there’s no reason why they should transition into wearing lingerie designed for full grown women after that. And the whole idea of “shaming” girls is absurd. It’s not wrong to desire beautiful things (though I can tell you this lingerie is not), but feeling shameful about wearing terribly objectifying and revealing undergarments is probably not bad. Shame is when you feel guilty of something, and guilt is something self inflicted. You have to choose to feel that way: I can’t “shame” you into feeling guilty. It naturally happens when you know you’ve done something wrong.

This new campaign by Victoria’s Secret makes me truly sad for America. Kids have lost so much of their innocence with the way our society is. I remember reading books about kids who played outside, had adventures in the woods, and enjoyed life. For the most part, they didn’t have a care in the world about what they looked like. These fancy panties would have been perfectly scandalous to them.

Now I’m not saying young girls should be wearing stark white granny panties. For goodness sakes, no one (except maybe an actual grandma) should be wearing those. Women and girls can wear pretty underthings. But really, could we put clothes on over them please? Unmentionables were not made for the world to see, and when girls are taught it’s okay to do that, problems happen.  Instead of being confident and feeling beautiful, they measure themselves against their peers and define themselves by what they look like. This is not what girls need.

What girls do need is to be treated with respect. We need to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others. We need to be confident in the fact, and show our world, that we know we are not just a body to be ogled over. We need to raise the bar, have higher standards, and expect more of the people in our lives. If we do that, we will feel beautiful. We don’t have to flaunt every part of our bodies to show the world that we are confident and beautiful. True confidence and security is as apparent to the world as any Victoria’s Secret product. And the best part? We can be confident and beautiful young women – with our clothes on. As women in modern America, we have incredible opportunities to accomplish our dreams and grow up to be the women we have the potential of being. It’s high time we started to dress the part.

P.S. Please share this post with the young girls in your life and let them know they are beautiful!