The Pressure to Be Perfect
The pressure to be perfect seems to be everywhere these days: on television. In magazines. Through our peers. In weight loss advertisements. And even celebrities. The media is giving us a pretty clear message—that in order to be perfect, we have to look a certain way, act a certain way, and wear certain size clothing.
The world’s standard of beauty can be a bit intimidating. And although we know it’s impossible to be perfect, we still try to reach that level of perfection. We still strive to have the approval of man.
Why is this? Especially since it’s such a struggle, trying to meet the world’s definition of perfect. The thing is, you’ll never be satisfied. That level of perfection doesn’t even exist! If you’re constantly trying to please people, you’ll always find something about yourself to complain about. You might think your nose is too big, so you need plastic surgery. Or your hair might be too plain, so you want to change its color. Your clothes may be too “last season”, so you need to go shopping. You’ll have to be extremely cautious about each calorie you consume, because you have to maintain a perfect figure. And every time you take a picture, you’ll need to suck in your gut—even if you’re already thin—and put your hand on your hip in a way that makes your stomach look tiny. Come on, don’t act like you’ve never done this before.
Honestly, it gets on my last nerves, as I’m sure it does with God. In fact, it hurts when He sees you trying to be someone that He didn’t intend for you to be—striving to reach a standard that the world created, although it technically doesn’t even exist. It hurts when He sees you abusing His creation, His masterpiece, and calling His work “ugly”.
Why should what people think of you even matter? You were created by the Master Artist Himself, so why do you constantly try to find something about yourself to try to fix? When you act as if you hate yourself, you’re basically telling God that you don’t think he did a good job with his creation. If all of the best artists in the world who ever lived can’t create anything as perfect as God’s creations, why do you keep finding things to hate about yourself?
“Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work.” ~Jeremiah 1:5
You were made for God and by God. He gave careful consideration to the way your body is shaped, to every feature on your face, and every aspect of your personality. He designed you for a reason. Stop trying to mess with His design. Stop resenting it just so the world can consider you to be beautiful.
If all of us did this—if none of us cared about changing the way we looked and were completely satisfied with the way God made us—then there wouldn’t even be a world’s standard of beauty. We’d all be completely happy with ourselves. There would be no such thing as ugly because we’d all realize that it doesn’t even exist. Not when we’re comparing ourselves to God’s standard of beauty.
“Do you think I am trying to make people accept me? No, God is the One I am trying to please. Am I trying to please people? If I still wanted to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
When we understand that we are not called to please people, it will be the most freeing realization ever. Just think of how relieved you will be when you no longer have to strive for perfection! In order to do this, you must see yourself the way that God made you. You must want to please Him only, and remind yourself of what He thinks about you. Not what the world might think about you. And always focus on the strengths God has given you rather than trying to fix your flaws.
Of course, it’s not a bad thing to care about your appearance. But only for the sake of looking clean and keeping the body God has given you healthy. The only time this becomes a problem is when we obsess with taking care of our appearance. Don’t work out and eat healthy just so you can try to be what the world considers to be thin. Do it because you enjoy the benefits and want to be healthy. Stop trying to lose weight just so you can be skinnier than your friend, fit into a pair of skinny jeans, or not have to be embarrassed when you look at pictures of yourself. Never try to change your appearance for the approval of men. To make this less tempting, don’t even weigh yourself. People obsess over weighing themselves and I personally find it ridiculous. There’s more that goes into that number than just fat.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less.”
So be yourself. Be natural. Who cares if you take a horrible picture of yourself? Laugh about it!You don't have to look perfect. Unless, of course, you’re trying to impress others.But why do that when you have complete approval from God, when he tells you that you're valuable, that you're worth it, that nothing can compare to you? Why try to win small-minded people's approval when the Creator of the Universe thinks you're a masterpiece? If their name is not God, then their opinion should not count.
What I think is beautiful is when someone becomes completely confident in who God made them to be. Not because they’re finally skinny. But because they see themselves the way God sees them and doesn’t care what others might think. You, too, will come across as beautiful to others when you are proud to be in your own skin. True beauty is not wearing a size zero or looking perfect or having a shining personality. True beauty comes from within—from knowing who you are in Christ. When you realize this, the pressure to be perfect won’t affect you, because you’ll understand that there is nothing you can do to make yourself more perfect than you already are.
God is perfect. God lives in you and created you. Therefore you are perfect as well.
Tessa Hall is a 19-year-old coffeeholic and author of Purple Moon. She is also the editor over the faith department for Temperance Magazine, as well as a contributing writer for Imagine Mag, More To Be, & Real Teen Faith. She loves acting, music, Starbucks, and her imperial Shih Tzu—who is named Brewer after a character in her book, as well as her love for coffee.