When I was a little girl, I always loved watching my mom get ready. It seemed like such an elegant thing to curl your hair and apply just the right amount of rouge and eye shadow, and finish with the perfect shade of lipstick and pair of earrings. One day, as I stood in my usual spot at the bathroom counter, I remember looking at my own reflection, telling her that I didn’t like the big brown mole to the side of my left eye.
“Oh, that? Oh, you’re lucky to have that. It’s called a beauty mark. Only the most beautiful women have them. Cindy Crawford is a SUPERMODEL and has a big brown mole above her lip, and it’s made her famous. Your beauty mark is beautiful!”
I remember beaming with pride that day and feeling extraordinarily special. I never looked at that mole the same again. My mom affirmed my beauty that day. She spoke truth and kindness, and her words were life-giving. Sadly, there were many more days in the mirror and many other conversations about my appearance that went much differently.
At the age of ten, my breasts were starting to grow well ahead of the other girls and I was in dire need of a bra. When I finally got up the courage to ask my mom to buy me one, she asked to look at them because she didn’t think it was time yet since I was so young. After she did, she replied, “You’re right, you do need a bra. Your boobs are already starting to sag.” I had no idea what that meant, but it didn’t sound good. Something was clearly wrong with them.
And just like I have always loved my mole underneath my left eye, I have always struggled to find any beauty in this part of my body and instead, only see them as the saggy, deformed breasts my mother seemed to see that day.
The innocent days of childhood don’t seem to last long, as evil often moves in quickly to mar our femininity.
For most of my life, I hated myself and was trying to change or become someone else. I remember always wanting to be the best pieces of people that I knew. If I could combine Courtney’s talent, Sarah’s discipline, Megan’s sense of humor, and Bethany’s thoughtfulness and beauty, then maybe I would finally like who I was. But, there was always something I didn’t like: The sound of my laugh. The way my right calf is shaped. How I always speak before I think about what I’m saying. How sensitive I am and how I cry at all the things.
Over time, I began to see where so much of my identity was tied up in what others had thought of me and how little regard I had for who God said I was and who He created me to be. I realized all the years that I was heaping the coals of self-contempt over my head that I was telling God He was wrong about me. I was telling Him that He made a mistake, that I wasn’t fearfully and wonderfully made, and that His grace wasn’t enough to cover me. With help from others who would speak truth to me often, I started to embrace who I was. I found kindness for my heart, for my flaws, for my body – even that weirdly shaped calf and the saggy boobs I’ve always disliked.
Five years ago, on my 30th birthday, I decided to get a beauty mark of my own. I wanted a permanent reminder of where I had come from and a visible reminder of who God created me to be: the beautiful, tender-hearted, fun, vibrant, and passionate woman I am. I found a heart design tattoo that I loved and put it on the right side of my neck. Even now, catching a glimpse of it in the mirror serves as a sweet reminder of where God continues to transform all of me to be more Christ.
There are still days I wallow in self-contempt. I have moments and sometimes even seasons, where I agree with what evil has to say about my appearance, my body, or my heart. But I’ve learned that I have a choice – to agree with the lies evil offers, or to embrace the truth about who I am in Christ. Beautiful, redeemed, white as snow, forgiven and HIS.
Deeply rooted in South Texas, Jennifer Stamness is a sunshine-lover, wife and mother to two young boys. She enjoys creating beauty in places like writing, music, decorating and throwing parties. She desires to follow Jesus into the unknown places He invites her to and is thankful for His abundant and amazing grace. Jennifer writes, dreams and shares pieces of her story here.