I feel like I’m being bullied. Every time this thought crosses my mind, usually when I begrudgingly look at my reflection in the mirror, I think of the absolute blackness of my human nature to even think such a thing. I stare at my eyes. They’re one of the few things I feel gratitude for. My eyes and my lips. Everything else I squirm to keep looking at, thinking to myself and God that this struggle is so unnecessary.
I didn’t always feel this way about my appearance. A few months ago, you couldn’t convince me with any level of effectiveness that I needed makeup, and don’t even think that I would flinch under the weighty stare of any man. I would spend a long time in bathrooms, looking at my face, smiling meekly and adjusting my hair. You would see me smoothing out my dress against flat abs, and listening to the echoes of my high heels as I strutted down the hallway and back into the office. You didn’t like the way I looked? Well, my love, you don’t have to like what you see for me to go on living my life.
It’s odd to me now that I care even a lick about what other people think. Christmas of 2013 was when I decided that caring about others’ opinions was a foolish and unkind way to live your life, yet here I am. The voice in my head is loud when I’m talking to others; it isn’t actively engaging in whatever conversation I’m in. Instead, it is screaming with a deafening shriek, reminding me of each flaw, and abusively making me pay attention to them. This provokes silence when I’m in groups of people; if I’m talking, people will be looking at me, and if they’re looking at me, then they’ll see what I see everyday…
I realized how toxic this little demon was when I invited my boyfriend to a friendsgiving dinner a few weeks ago. Now understand this, my boyfriend is uncommonly good looking, so when I take him places, and see women whom I envy in some way, the foundation of my confidence, already damaged, continues to crack. And that’s what happened that night. It was a fun time; I laughed, ate, over ate, mingled, but on the way back to dropping him off, my subconscious mind was preparing a conversation I never planned on having.
I knew why he loved me because he had been gracious and transparent enough to explain it, but as we sat in my car, tiredness overcoming us both, I needed to hear it all again. I needed to know that of the women he’d seen that night, he was SURE that I was the one he wanted to do life with. My conscious mind was filled with truths about my beauty and identity being hidden in Christ, but my subconscious brain wasn’t willing to believe that right then.
I asked him why he loved me, ignoring the exhaustion darkening his face; he grew uncomfortable and I could tell that his patience was waning, but I pressed on. It was merciless, but so driven was my need for validation. So ceaseless. The night ended poorly and I struggled to explain myself to him via text later that evening.
It’s almost as though somewhere between the beginning of the year and now, I was knowingly replaced by a changeling, and the real Davina is elsewhere, in a different plane of existence radiating her confidence freely. In reality, I feel like I’m being bullied by God. The issues that I see when I look in the mirror – I don’t see them anywhere else, or not all on one person. It’s not an easy thing to admit, this utter irreverence toward God, His work in making me, and His image which I reflect, but it’s how I feel most days. Especially days like yesterday when my father looked over at me, and commented on my acne with disdain.
My boyfriend, strangers, mutual friends, random people I’ve met, men I’ve worked with, past dates, close friends, all openly reaffirm my beauty. But I’ll tell you something quite plainly, even though he’s been sweet enough to shower me with compliments, I’m the one who needs to do that firstly – and believe what I tell myself. I told him once that he needs to be confident in himself if his significant other finds him attractive. She’s the one who will see him the most and live proudly with what she sees. I see now that this is a lie. You have to be confident for you, because you see yourself the most – 24/7, 365. Everyone else factors little in this equation.
One of the most meaningful compliments I’ve ever received was from a close friend of mine. Our friendship is relatively new, but he consistently proves to be a gem in my circle of friends. I was talking about skin care and acne one night with some girls after Bible Study, and he lingered on the outskirts of the conversation. When the ladies and I were done, I turned to him and we left. Halfway down the stairs, we stopped. It was raining hard and neither of us was prepared for it. More so, I wasn’t prepared for what he said next, “Davina, I’ve never looked at you and thought, acne. I’ve only ever looked at you and thought: Davina.” I can’t quite explain why this has stayed with me, but the look in his eyes is one I will remember for the rest of my life.
My home here is full of mirrors, venomous, and lurking quietly around each corner. But I’m home alone most days, and have no choice but to face them. Apart from this very real push in learning to accept and celebrate myself, is the underlying truth that when God created the world, He said it was good. But when He ended creation by making man, He said it was very good. As someone, like everyone else, who is made in the image of God, looking at myself with anything less than joy and happiness is an automatic slap in the face of the God whom I look like. I would hate for my child to say that they hate a trait they inherited from me. Yes, some of the things I dislike about myself are tied to the brokenness of mankind, for I refuse to believe that God has acne etc., but this is how He made me, and He made me beautiful (that last part is an idea for a tattoo). Celebrations are in order.