First of all, I’m not wearing any makeup and I’m in my glasses instead of contacts. I’ve got braces, my eyes are basically closed as I’m squinting in the sun, and I don’t like the way my shirt fits me. This picture is from a few years ago too. My sister, an amazing photographer, took this as a test shot for someone else’s photoshoot, no one was ever meant to see it. A couple times I thought about posting it on Instagram, but I always changed my mind. I hated the way I looked in this picture. I’m still not completely on board with it, to be honest.
You see, I’ve been wearing makeup practically everyday since I was ten years old and rarely go out in public wearing my glasses. It’s a normal I’ve made, and gotten too comfortable in, which makes who I really am uncomfortable to me. This is the way I look naturally, the way God created me, and I didn’t like it. She’s the girl I see in the mirror before I hide her under makeup, filters, fake tans, and anything else to change me. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore makeup and I don’t think there is anything wrong with it! It is a great way to make you feel *extra* confident and *extra* beautiful, and a truly awesome art form. But most often I don’t use it as an enhancer, but rather as a mask.
Flash forward to right now as I type this and look at the photo again, I love it. I see my 14 year old self and I love her. Look at the pretty sky, gorgeous grass, and blooming flower in front of me. Look at the talent hidden in the actual picture. Look at the sun shining on my hair, making it glow extra red. Look at my face!!! I’m genuinely smiling, not faking it. I was having a great time at the photoshoot and I showed it. I think I look beautiful, now. We all know that God doesn’t make mistakes. So how could I think that the way He made me to look was wrong? I don’t need makeup to hide behind. Neither do you.
You don’t need a filter on your picture or to use photoshop to change how you look either. We hear a lot about beauty coming from within, and it’s absolutely true. If you act beautiful, you’ll look beautiful. Often times we let focusing on inner beauty invalidate how negative we might feel about our outer beauty. It’s normal to not like something about the way you look on the outside. Someone else giving you a compliment might just be a bandaid over a bullet wound too. The truth is, you’ll only love the way you look when you DECIDE to! And that’s a really hard thing to do.
It’s going to take time and hard work but it has such a worthy outcome. I love the way I look with makeup on and filters on my pictures. I also love the way I look when I’ve just woken up and I’ve got a blemish on my chin. I decided to love myself for the way I was made because I know I am fearfully and wonderfully made. All it takes is a look in the mirror at the natural and raw you.
Look yourself in your own eyes and say out loud, ” I am beautiful. I look beautiful. I am beautiful because I choose to be beautiful!” Say it everyday until you believe it. If you wear makeup, maybe try going somewhere without it, just once. It’s okay to not wear it everyday, like I still do sometimes! Start small too, every step, even a baby-step, matters. Trust me, beauty is a decision. Real beauty is a choice! You are already beautiful, but you might not believe it until you CHOOSE to. Girl, you are beautiful. Don’t hate your pictures, don’t hate your “flaws”. Be brave and make the choice to love yourself.
Thank you Ava for this lovely testimony. Ava is USA National Miss Hoosier State Teen 2021, and she will be competing at Nationals very soon. Wishing her all the luck. I know her inner and outer beauty will shine!! She is wise beyond her years, and I am grateful to know her.