Do you look in the mirror and only see the fat or pores or wrinkles and so much more? Well, today I’ve got a little confession and some simple advice for How to Stop Obsessing About Your Flaws.
Friends, I had a meltdown this weekend. Seriously, bawling so hard I was in danger of a migraine headache and my husband refused to go to bed until I stopped.
You might be thinking something super tragic happened and in a way, you might be right. But before I get into why it was tragic, let me tell you about the trigger for such emotional waterworks.
Friday night, we celebrated my second grandson’s 9th birthday at a local restaurant. It was a wonderful (and noisy) celebration of our sweet Ben complete with chips, my favorite ranch dressing ever, with some of my favorite people on earth. Kids, cupcakes, photo-ops, birthday songs, and sombreros, and we all left feeling stuffed and happy.
TRAGICALLY TOXIC THINKING
But some of those photos got leaked to the press (a.k.a. posted on social media) and instead of seeing the happiness and cherishing the memories those photos represent, I only saw a fat blob with a fat, red face and stupid flat hair!
I know, I know – That description is HORRIBLE and HARSH and HATEFUL and I would never speak or even think that way about anyone else. So, WHY do I think it’s okay to think this about myself?
Or WHY do I judge myself so critically?
Do you do that too?
Perhaps it’s not your body you’re picking apart but your face. I too could have a list a mile long about sagging eyelids, a double chin, a big nose, flaky dermatitis… See? Once we start, we can’t don’t stop.
See? Isn’t that tragic?
HOW TO STOP OBSESSING ABOUT YOUR FLAWS
My advice is simple – STEP BACK FROM THE MIRROR. Don’t examine things so closely and with such a critical eye.
If, like me, it’s a photo that has you torn up, zoom out and look at the entire picture. The faces, the smiles, the memories.
In both instances, it’s important to look at the big picture and see yourself as a whole.
Friends, as you can see, I’m preaching to the choir here.
Most of the time I’m on the self-acceptance and self-love soapbox. But every now and again, I step too close to the mirror. I spend too much time looking at a magnified view of my flaws and shortcomings.
And the truth is, with the exception of my dentist, every six months, NOBODY else is looking at me this close!
Traci from The Love Vitamin says it like this, The mirror wants you to step back and look at yourself as a whole, like the way that others see you.
Now listen, I don’t think we should avoid mirrors altogether. There is some value in looking at ourselves and learning to love the rolls and folds. It can definitely be a valuable practice to build self-esteem IF we keep the right perspective and avoid becoming self-destructive.
THE DANGERS OF OBSESSING ABOUT YOUR FLAWS
However, we need to stop turning on the magnification and see ourselves from a distance, both literally and figuratively. “From a distance, the world looks blue and green...” according to Bette Midler and I think she’s right.
There are so many dangers in putting our perceived flaws under the microscope; especially when we are doing it so often.
This practice can lead us to:
- Unrealistic comparison to someone else’s (everyone else’s) retouched and filtered highlight reel.
- Unnecessary, unhealthy cosmetic procedures. Read my own breast implant (and explant) journey here.
- And even worshipping our appearance. Our face or body can become an idol. Yeah, I said it!
One only needs to turn on the television to see how the faces of some of our favorite actresses have become (or are becoming) caricatures of themselves. I’m looking at you Leah Remini. 🙁 And our social media feeds aren’t far behind.
You may also be interested in 12 Scriptures Affirming Your Beauty, Value, and Identity
LOOK FOR A DIFFERENT REFLECTION
When we step back, we’re still seeing ourselves, but through a filter of distance.
I love what Stacy London (What Not to Wear) says about it:
Your self-esteem won’t come from body parts. You need to step away from the mirror every once in a while, and look for another reflection, like the one in the eyes of the people who love you and admire you.Stacy London
Of course, the most important thing is WHO we reflect.
We are made in the image of God and were created to glorify HIM.
The bible says:
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV
And when we reflect His SPIRIT, we are BEAUTIFUL from any distance.
Oh Paula, whenever you blog shows up on my emails, I hurry and open it because I know I’m going to be lifted in some manner. And I thank you (and God!) for being here when I need your sound advice. Your words are for every woman, no matter her age. As my family grows, there are more opportunities for pictures and I scrutinize each and every one that I’m in, checking my size against the others in the picture, checking my hair, my double chin (where IS my neck??), checking to see if my stomach roll is in the picture. In doing that, I completely miss the joy on everyone’s face for the moment we’re celebrating.
I pray that one day I will stop looking for perfection in me and instead look for the love surrounding me.
Hugs and blessings,
It’s a constant journey Donna and I don’t think we ever fully “arrived”. But let’s keep stepping back and seeing ourself through another filter. In fact, I realize that I never have to look at those photos if I don’t want to. And likely I’ll look back at many of them in years to come and think, “I don’t look that bad.”
You my friend, are a blessing to me. 😘
Paula, I know exactly what you mean. When I look at pictures of the family or some other gathering, I zero in on everything I see wrong about me. Strangely enough, when I mention the huge dents around my mouth, no one can even see them! I have detested having my picture taken ever since I overheard my mom and grandma discussing my class pictures. I have finally figured it out…I have super big teeth and my lips don’t match them! So, I end up with a super toothy gummy smile. I’ve (sort of) learned to love my smile. It’s ironic I hate having my picture taken since I’ve started blogging! As for the weight issue…I wrote an entire blog post about the problem with vanity sizing and body positivity. It just doesn’t work for me. Tell me I look ok, and I’ll eat another box of Little Debbie Swiss Rolls (seriously, why can’t they have the calorie count of broccoli?).
To be honest…I think you are one of the most gorgeous women in the blogosphere…your eyes just light up your face…and that hair…gurrrl!
That’s SO MUCH Marsha! I’ve learned to not put any stick in sizing no matter which way it goes. There’s no real standard. I don’t give merit to weight charts either. 😉
What’s a weight chart? Hahaha!!
Right?!?! 😂 I never see myself getting back to even the top range of my “ideal weight”. 🤪
Oh, honey…I haven’t been close to that since I was 10! That’s years not as in Bo Derek!!!
You hit my nail on the head and I’m a bit convicted. Due to stress, disappointments and just plain laziness I’m carrying about five extra pounds and I have spent weeks now beating myself up over it. I currently am unhappy with my hair, my face, my body and my clothes!
I know the enemy uses this mind set to keep me focused on myself and not on Him and yet I find myself here, fighting this lifelong battle, one more time.
Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone in this struggle/sin. I will take your challenge to walk away, temporarily, from my mirror and refocus on more important things.
Yes Lori, yes – REFOCUS! Also, I’m sure that come spring, we’re gonna feel better about a LOT of things. I’m in the same funk with my hair and everything.
Agree! Spring cannot come soon enough!
I love this! It’s true we all do this. I know I’m guilty of it. When I’m in that mood of self loathing I don’t look in mirrors. I already know I’ll be ripping myself up. I love Stacy London. I follow her. She has such a great frame of mind around things like this!
When you get to my age you have to use a magnifying mirror just to do the brows or apply make-up. And, the mirror gets to be very unfriendly. But, all I see is ME. We just have to remind ourselves that, We are Happy in our own Skin.
Be Happy Sis!!
I agree Neti. I’ve just started using the magnifying mirror for that exact thing! I ONLY zero in on my eyes. 🤣
Thanks for the encouragement!
Awww, God bless you in your transparent journey. It is so refreshing (as a reader) and heartbreaking (as a sister who has been there her whole life). I imagine we are the same age, with many similar “issues” BUT amen! God sees us as beautiful, and our entire essence is what makes those around us feel loved and joyful.
Thanks Christa! We are precious beauties in His sight. 😘