I had a lot of questions, a lot of comments about my “Something Sexy, Something Beautiful” article a few weeks back. People didn’t understand it. Some didn’t want to believe it, or couldn’t. They heard the words, but they felt like only words.

“Seth, I read it and it made sense to me, but it doesn’t feel real for me. You tell me I’m beautiful if I want to be, but it’s not what I’m told, or what I feel 24/7. I feel fat. I feel ugly. I feel like I’m not beautiful.”

My heart broke, because this was coming from a woman who was beautiful, even by the world’s standards. I was one person. My words made her feel good, for a few moments, until she left and self consciousness and doubt began to creep back in. Where were these feelings of inadequacy coming from?

She was making the mistake we all make, and not even consciously. She was believing that what she was seeing in advertising, the movies, the magazines, the books, the TV shows were the real thing, the ideal thing. She of all people, who should have known better, still believed what she was seeing around her was what she should be. I’ll tell you that women don’t look like they do on the ads. Advertising is a lie. Advertisers want you to believe their product is the best thing in the world. So in their ads, they have the best things available. They have beautiful girls with perfect proportions, perfect houses, carefully groomed animals, crisp white clothes, famous celebrities. By association, their product is also good. That’s what advertising is. Its persuasion based on perception. But it’s not real. I walk down the street and I don’t see girls that look like they do in the ads. The girl who drinks coke everyday doesn’t look like Britney Spears and I would wager that if Britney Spears drank coke everyday she wouldn’t look like Britney Spears either. They are not always smiling. They don’t always smell good and when women wake up, they don’t necessarily look their best. You see, how can the real thing live up to a fantasy?

We watch TV shows with all our favorite actors and actresses who live these incredible, interesting and exciting lives. Of course they do, otherwise people wouldn’t watch it. How many shows do we have with the ordinary guy who goes to work in construction everyday so that he can barely afford to buy his family supper and nice clothes to wear? He comes home tired and relaxes in front of the TV for a few hours before taking a shower and kissing his wife goodnight. He does this same thing day in and day out, with maybe a vacation a year. He never seems to get ahead and his idea of adventure is taking the kids bowling with their friends. Nobody wants to watch a show like that because that’s what their life is like. Instead, they want to watch shows that excite them and their imaginations. But what happens is that people watch and inside they begin to think, I don’t look like that, my life is not as good as that, what’s wrong with me? I must not be good enough.

What I tell people is to go back to the beginning, back to the real truth. In the first and second chapter of the Bible, it says God created man and woman in His image. It’s repeated twice. Think about that. He creates you and me and our children and our parents and our friends — all in the image of God. When people look at us, they are supposed to see the reflection of God.

Now, if you have ever created anything, a poem, a painting in art class, an ornament for your wife, you realize that creation is an intimate act. It is a direct extension of the creator. It has the creator’s feelings and effort and mind put in it. Sometimes an artist or a writer will throw out a painting or a draft because he believes it is bad. But God created you and me in his own image and said, “It is good.” If He, the infinite God, thought that about us, His creations, why do we yet doubt? Let’s read a bit further in the second chapter. There God did the ultimate thing. He breathed the breath of life into us, His very spirit animates us. We have a distinct “life,” about us that is uniquely His. Not only are our physical bodies an shade of His, but our very characteristics, our hopes and passions and feelings are directly related to that very spirit that He breathed into us.

Ok, ok. We understand it and it feels kinda cool. But that doesn’t really help us when we feel all beat up and ugly and worthless. We are still going to doubt and fear that we don’t quite measure up, that we’ve failed somehow, that everyone else, or almost everyone else is better at this or that or has a prettier nose or a better body, just as my friend did earlier.

Let’s look at chapter three of Genesis. Adam and Eve ate the fruit, the first sin, and look at the first thing that happened. They immediately noticed their nakedness and covered themselves. Listen. They immediately noticed their nakedness and covered themselves. Perhaps they thought to themselves, “Look at me! I’m ugly. Look at this bump and all this flesh. I need to cover myself. I need to hide this. I’m not so perfect, so beautiful as I thought.” The first success of the devil in our lives is self doubt and fear.

Everytime we have those thoughts we have to remind ourselves, they’re not true. Those thoughts and feelings are not what we were created with. It’s not what God intended for us. His creations are perfect, in naked glory, the very image of God and animated by the amazing breath of God. But as soon as Adam and Eve sinned, they had self doubt. They had all this perfection and still they doubted. Just as we do. And He weeps even now, when a young girl or man believes him or herself unworthy of His gift. It’s a lie, one we believe in fear and doubt.

© Seth Crossman