Instagram Beauty, or Inner Beauty?
By: Lindsay Tedder
Don’t let your beauty consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and wearing gold jewelry, but rather what is inside the heart - the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. - 1 Peter 3:3-4
Words like “perfect body,” “dramatic results,” “fit mom,” “ideal body,” and “fit and fabulous” are everywhere we scroll. EVERYWHERE.
The hashtag #perfectbody on Instagram yields 4.7 MILLION images. 4,700,000 images, most of which feature nearly naked women, flaunting bronzed skin, apple bottom booties, flat stomachs, perfect breasts, thigh gaps, and long flowing beachy waves - all of which I am without. Type in the hashtag #weightloss and you’ll find 60.9 MILLION images. Sixty freakin’ million. The hashtag #beauty garnishes a whopping 353 million posts, most of which feature the same style images as the #perfectbody hashtag yields.
But when I looked up the hashtag #innerbeauty, I was greeted with a lowly 828 thousand images, most of which still featured some gorgeous woman showing off her perfectly flat stomach. One even came up of a stunning woman holding a needle filled with Botox. I swear. I can’t make this up. How does Botox or a flat stomach have anything to do with inner beauty?
The thought baffled me.
It is no wonder that I and millions of other women struggle to feel comfortable in the skin we’ve been given. It’s no secret that I am overweight. It not like people look at me and think, “Wow, I didn’t realize you were plus size.” My entire life I have strived to be confident. And while I know I am an amazing person on the inside, sometimes those feelings get washed down the drain quicker than the hair dye that is so desperately needed to cover the imperfect grey hairs that are starting to pop up.
How can I feel remotely good about myself when the images I see tell me that I am far different from what is normal/acceptable/desirable? And how do I press forward in my calling with the stifling feelings of inadequacy swallowing me with every scroll?
Until I realize that I am enough, that God created me fully knowing that this would be the path I’d have to walk, the simple answer is; I can’t. I will continue to suffocate my inner beauty when I am focused on making my outer beauty such a priority.
If I am focused on my ideal body can I really find my ideal heart?
Shouldn’t the heart come first?
I love the verse above because it is so visual. I feel like it is speaking directly to me. Yes, me with the elaborate hairstyle and the gold jewelry. While God doesn’t tell me that I can’t style my hair elaborately or that I shouldn’t ever wear gold jewelry, He does remind me of my intentions. Why am I adorning myself so fancifully? Is it because it makes me feel good? And if it makes me feel good, why is that? Is it because society agrees that my hair and jewelry are on point, so ultimately, I am doing this for them and not me after all?
God wants us to focus not of the things of traditional beauty here on earth - He wants us Kingdom-focused. He wants us focused on qualities that will never perish; qualities inside our hearts. He wants to remind us that He created us and He does not make mistakes. He knew I wouldn’t have a flat stomach, a thigh gap, an apple bottom booty, perfect breasts, or beachy waves. But He also knew that I would love so hard it hurt. He knew that I would speak His truth. He knew that the package I am in was exactly what was needed to deliver His messages.
If I am focused on finding my ideal heart, I cannot be distracted by the vain attempt at a perfect body. I find it no coincidence that without the heart, the body could not survive. Sure, you have some organs that you can live without, right. Our bodies can do miraculous things. We are able to live long lives with one kidney, no gallbladder, no appendix, or missing limbs. But take out the heart and the rest of the body will be instantly lifeless.
I need to focus on the condition of my heart. I need to have a healthy heart first and foremost. I need to abide in Him and He in me.
How can you have a healthy heart? The answer is simple:
Let Him tell you who you are.
1. Stop comparing yourself to the incredible specimens you see on Instagram.
2. Unfollow the accounts that make you feel less than.
3. Follow accounts that uplift you.
4. Stay heart focused.
5. If what you are doing/saying/thinking doesn’t benefit your heart, STOP doing/saying/thinking it and surrender it to Him.
Lindsay Tedder is a believer, wife, mom, bestie and writer who lives in Columbus, Ohio with her bearded, bourbon-loving husband and her too-cool-for-school toddler. She is full of raw honesty, enthusiastic authenticity, amiable compassion, humble grit, powerful passion…and outrageous laughter, double chins, real life, and frothy nectar-of-the-gods coffee…because…coffee. Raised by a hardworking single mom, she overcame such trauma as sexual abuse induced food addiction, the debilitating health issues associated with endometriosis, a decade of infertility, and recurring life themes of worthlessness. Connect with her at www.LindsayTedder.com.
Looking for authentic conversations about how to deal with body image, insecurity, and comparison issues as a Christian woman? The Compared to Who? Podcast is the show for you! Twice a week, we tackle tough topics like dieting, disordered eating, weight loss, aging, body dysmorphia, and more from a practical, grace-filled, gospel-centered perspective.
Originally published Tuesday, 30 May 2023.