Window to the soul
I did a thing recently... I looked into the eyes of a friend -- a very good-looking friend -- and I saw how uncomfortable he was with me seeing the cracks in his soul. I was so surprised, because the guy acts like a total baller. It wasn't until I got to know him that he revealed some of the crazy things he's lived through. Things I couldn't write on this blog due to (1) his privacy, and (2) it would make you ball your eyes out.
An amazing thing happens when you look deep into someone's eyes: You're forced to look beyond his/her physique. You don't see the makeup or hairdo, crooked teeth, body or wrinkly skin. As my Papa says,
EYES ARE THE WINDOW TO A PERSON'S SOUL.
Through the eyes, you see a person's joy and fear all at once. You see her best memories intermingled with her deepest pains. Fear, insecurity, and tears can be seen through the eyes. It doesn't matter whose eyes you look into. The richest of people...look into his eyes and you see the same thing you see in a homeless man's eyes: a broken soul searching for hope.
But so often WE ALL (consciously or sub-consciously) undermine someone else's value based on really shallow differences.
How This Affects Women
I know guys get a lot of slack about objectifying women, but since this is a women's blog, can we have a second of total honesty? We women objectify ourselves before men objectify us. Before you gasp and apall, seriously think about this. Don't we deduce ourselves down to the positioning of our fat: butt, boobs, waist size, thigh gap?
More directly: when you look in the mirror, don't you see your waist-to-hip ratio, wishing it were bigger or smaller...or existed at all? :P We all do it. It's nothing to be ashamed of, but it's something I think we can AND SHOULD overcome.
If you're feeling kinda lame right now, let me share a true story.
A few months ago, I was walking around the mall with my husband, hard judging people's outfits (CROCS - get thee behind me satan). I think I was particularly focused on a heavier girl wearing a crop top, and I said, "Dang, that shirt doesn't do her justice." My husband said nothing. I tried again, "Did you hear me?" He said (in his poignant way), "I did. I just didn't notice."
His few words, and really his lack of words regarding anyone else's clothing, body size and looks, has preached louder than anything I could have heard elsewhere: We women are easily fixated on the way we look. I am easily fixated on the way people look.
There's got to be a better way!
So as I've pondered this over the course of multiple months (back when I began writing this post), I've figured out a couple of things:
- If you know a better way, show them a better way. It begins with self love, and then extends to loving women for who they ARE, not what they LOOK LIKE. Compassion plays a crucial role here. Perhaps the girl at the mall needs someone like you or me to SEE HER, who she really is, through the eyes of compassion. Let's show women a better way to be valued: by valuing each person regardless of appearance.
- The second solution is to quit endorsing the objectification of famous women! It's rampant! "This actress wore this curve-hugging dress to the awards party." "This actress wore a bikini at the beach." "This actress dropped down to her skivvies for a magazine." When we glorify objectified women, we are agreeing that women are only as worthwhile as their sex appeal.
We have to quit allowing our minds to be dumping grounds for broken people's ideas that women = bodies. Rather, let's replace our heroines with women who are DOING things. There's plenty of women to look up to whose work extends past their bodies: Sheryl Sandberg, Priscilla Shirer, Tori Kelly, Jordan Lee Dooley, Jasmine Star. THESE are role models who seem to live their lives knowing their intrinsic value. Let's talk up their stories, and we'll start to form the conversation about women, beyond mere bodies to actual PEOPLE.
***Look I'm the worst about making shoe contact before I make eye contact 🙄 so please don't think this is me talking at you.*** But I need to change. I want to value people for who they are, not what they look like.
How This Affects Men
Men aren't valued as much for their looks and bodies, but for something just as vain. Call it gender inequality or whatever you want, but men tend to be valued for their money.
As the great American philosophers Good Charlotte once said:
GIRLS DON'T LIKE BOYS. GIRLS LIKE CARS* AND MONEY.
(*GC definitely meant to say carbs...girls like carbs. FACT.)
Think about it: when women prepare for dates, they spend an hour at the salon getting their nails done, an hour at home doing hair and makeup, and another hour changing between 5 outfits. When men prepare for dates, you know what they do? (I asked my husband to answer this.) Nothing! *Most of them* do nothing. After all, financial status isn't something you can easily doll up.
Isn't it easy to see that men are under pressure to present a vain representation of themselves...much like women, right? See, the way we value women and men is different but similar. We value people for vain reasons: women for looks, men for money.
There is a Way Forward and Upward!
If you're tired of this...and I certainly am...
Let's lead a revolutionary change in how we see and value people! Whether someone has the best smile, V-cut shape, rolls, whatever, let's YOU AND ME lead change by addressing each person's truest self: their soul. Rather than eyeing him/her up and down, just look each person in the eyes, and lead with an authentic greeting: "Hello, pleased to meet you!" Set your focus on the individual as a person beyond the body.
The Real Problem
Objectification is an attack on the truth that God created people with intrinsic value. Your soul is who you are. You are neither equal to your wallet nor your body. You possess a body, just like you possess stuff. It's not who you are.
The Fake Solution
Clearly, most women are fed up with the female value being tied into her body. But in raging against the "skinny is hot" dogma, the band-aid solutions of "curvy is hot" and "every body is hot" have arisen. The problem with that solution is that it only further objectifies women.
See, we have to quit instantly evaluating a person by thinking "hot or not" and start looking people in the eyes and seeing a SOUL. Do you see the difference? We've been fighting objectification with more objectification, and that's just adding to the objectification problem.
We need to quit relaying the message: "Just be confident in whatever body you have". That's like telling people: "Just be confident in the car you drive". Be confident that it makes you someone special. Because that car, house, and boat are going to rust. Your body is going to age, wrinkle, and break down for the rest of your life. Your bank account will shrink and expand many times throughout your life. But your worth will never change.
The Real Solution
For you [GOD] created my inmost being... I praise you, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. your works are Wonderful; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16
My message to you is to be confident that you are a precious, rare jewel. Not because you own anything: (including but not limited to) a curvy or athletic body type, a bank account, a car, a degree, an advanced degree, a greencard, a whole family, a boyfriend or husband, kids. Whatever!
Your value comes fully and completely from the God who created you in His own image. If ever you feel less valuable or you misplace your value, I hope you will come back to this post and mediate on the Scriptures above. I have a simple reminder of these godly identifiers on my mirror that I look at every day. Feel free to duplicate them! :)