In this video by Dove on perceptions of beauty, a forensics artist draws a woman using only her description of herself. Then a stranger, after sitting with the woman for awhile, describes her to the same artist. The woman is called back to the room to see the difference in the drawings. Not only are the drawings inspired by a stranger more accurate, they are also more beautiful.
How we feel about ourselves in the world does make a difference in how we act and treat other people. When we feel loved, cared for and beautiful, we tend to be more generous. People respond to us more positively, and the cycle continues. Being a teenager can be hard on our self-esteem. Our bodies are changing rapidly, and we can feel out of control. We try to adjust our inner sense of identity with our changing bodies and expanding minds, but it is tough to keep up.
When I coached gymnastics, I travelled to a Junior Olympic National Competition with a young woman when she was a senior in high school. At the competition, the gym was filled with young women who were in the best shape of their lives– strong, powerful, graceful and flexible. I asked her to look around the gym and pick out the woman who she thought had a body type most similar to her. I then picked the woman I saw as the most comparable in body type. The exercise opened her eyes to how her own self-image was warped. She did not see herself as the world saw her.
What if we were able to shift our self-perception to reflect how beautiful we really are, inside and out, body and soul? How would you describe yourself if you were in the Dove experiment? What misperceptions would arise? What parts of your body to you need to learn how to love? Who do you think could describe you most accurately to the artist?
We read in Psalm 139 that God knit us in our mother’s wombs. God knows the number of hairs on our head. God adores us, every inch of us. Can you imagine if God were to describe you to the artist? What if we were able to see ourselves as God sees us? Not just who we are, but who we are becoming? It is time to start a revolution in our schools, families and youth groups, a revolution of irrational self-acceptance and love. A revolution of noticing and appreciating beauty. Commit with me to complimenting a stranger today. Compliment a friend tomorrow. And be brave enough to compliment yourself every day. Let’s ask God to help us see ourselves as God, our loving creator, sees us. Self-acceptance and self-love is contagious. It will catch on.