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  • Dawn Bender

The Beauty Within

Updated: Mar 22

What do you see when you look in the mirror? What thoughts go through your mind? Do any of these phrases find their way to your inner dialogue: “I’m too fat”, “I’m too skinny”, “I’m too tall”, “I’m too short”, “I’m too (fill in the blank)”? Do you feel like your breasts are too small or too large? Maybe you think your derriere is too flat or too round? What about your hair – too gray, too unruly, too frizzy, too thick, or too thin? Now you examine your face and see wrinkles, age spots, blemishes, or freckles. On top of that your skin tone is too pale or too dark, you would look better if it was just like…


I could keep going right? When we analyze our appearance we are usually too much of something and not enough of another. Each of those thoughts is a comparison. But what are we comparing ourselves to? If I think my complexion is too light then it’s too light compared to whom? If I say I’m too short, what exactly is the perfect height?


The problem with how we see ourselves is that we’re trying to compare the image we see in the mirror to some “ideal” standard of beauty the world has created. This is not new. Every generation for the last century has had movie stars, models, and celebrities who’s images fill our mind. We are told they are beautiful, aspirational, and even perfect. Actresses who have an arsenal of stylists, makeup artists, hair professionals, personal trainers, estheticians, full time nannies, personal chefs, and a host of other resources look flawless with perfect skin, voluminous hair, and six pack abs at 50+ years old. Models walk the catwalk weeks after giving birth and look as though they never gained an ounce. Magazines and social media images show impeccably curated outfits, flawless makeup, and perfect bikini bodies.

So we scroll, or read, or watch. And then the comparisons start to creep into our thoughts. One day I wake up and open Instagram on my phone. As I’m scrolling I see a celebrity my age who doesn’t seem to have an ounce of fat on her body. Suddenly I’m thinking how fat I am, maybe I need to start a diet. I spend a few more minutes on the app and see another who barely has a wrinkle on her face. Now I’m feeling old. Hmmm…fat and old – and I haven’t even gotten out of bed yet. How’s that for a good morning?


Here’s a question I want to pose to you: who says that these images – from tv, movies, magazines, social media – are the “ideal” woman? Who decided what is the perfect height, weight, skin tone, face shape, or hair color? And why do we allow these (often edited) images to make us feel bad about ourselves? And if you’re reading this and thinking “well, I don’t compare myself to celebrities or models”, what about your friends, neighbors, coworkers, or the women at church or in your book club?


It’s so easy to look in the mirror and see everything wrong with our bodies. All the things we’d like to change. We often spend so much time thinking, or dare I say obsessing, about our self perceived flaws. And almost always that focus is directed to the outside. We compare our outsides with the outsides of others and almost always we are on the losing side. So we turn our effort to fixing what we think is wrong. We start another diet, schedule the appointment for Botox, buy some new clothes, visit the hairdresser, or get a fake tan. But no matter how much weight we lose, what dress size we wear, how white our teeth are, or if we have flawless skin, none of it matters if we don’t discover the beauty within first.


A little more than a decade ago I was extremely happy with my outward appearance. I worked hard at the gym almost every day of the week and the result was a super fit body. I took care of my skin, wore cute outfits, and perfected my makeup techniques. After years of being a stay at home mom and letting myself go, I mean who could blame me right? When you’re home with two little kids your wardrobe consists of sweatpants, it’s easy to go for days without a stitch of makeup, and most days you’re lucky to even get a shower. Finally I was taking care of me again, that’s great right?! I poured my efforts into my outside, but I should have spend more time on the inside. I don’t have time to get into my story but let me just say that even though the outside might have looked “perfect”, the inside was a hot mess.

A few years passed and multiple circumstances resulted in me gaining quite a bit of weight. No longer was I happy with my outward appearance. Every time I looked in the mirror I started to hate what I saw more and more. And as I once again went up another clothing size I had one thought that permeated my mind “I just want to be skinny again”. The thing I didn’t realize was that I was trying to go back to an old version of myself who, although she may have looked pretty on the inside, was so ugly on the inside. It was then that God reminded me that even though the outside was not what I desired or deemed acceptable, my inside was beautiful. I had done some hard work to grow and heal and become strong. Why would I desire to go back to the person I was before? Was being skinny more important that being whole?


That day the journey to accept who I was on the outside began. God cares deeply about how we see ourselves. He sees our inner beauty even when we don’t. But that doesn’t mean we can’t also care about our outer beauty. However, if only focus on the outside without fixing what’s going on inside, we’ll never be content no matter what size we wear. It’s so important to get the inside healthy and whole and then we can turn our attention to our outer appearance and allow the confidence we’ve gained from our personal growth to shine.

This is the reason I started my business and named it Called 2 Confidence. I believe it’s my mission to help other women find the skills to develop confidence in who they are and then give them the tools to dress their outside to reflect the change that’s happened internally. By starting to see yourself as God sees you, you can start to heal the inside, to discover the beauty within, and to walk out God’s calling on your life…in confidence.



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