Updated: Jan 21, 2021
“Que Linda, se parece a Selena!!!” (she’s beautiful she looks like Selena) I heard the lady at church say to my mother. I was 11yrs old and became accustomed to being told who I looked like so of course I measured beauty by what others deemed beautiful. I recall almost every compliment was followed by a comparison. Every suggestion, whether it was a hair style or fashion advice was connected to a person I “needed” to emulate. I have a feeling that most little girls across America can relate.
I was 34yrs old, enjoying a killer session at the gym feeling like nothing can kill my vibe. I had finally found an emotionally safe place to work out. A place where the women were supportive, always complimenting each other, and pushing one another to reach new goals. I never felt jealousy, I was never compared, it was the perfect environment. Just as I’m wrapping up my two-hour session, I’m feeling amazing, stronger than ever, my trainer grabs me by the shoulders and says “you’re killing it, I’m so proud of you, you look amazing!” I responded with “Thanks coach, I’m trying to look like J. Lo out here”.
His face changed, he let me go, stepped back and sternly scolded me. “Never say anything like that in my gym AGAIN!!!!!!” (RIP VIBE) Now he’s not a small guy, I had never him angry before, and boy was I taken back. Not sure what to feel or how to respond, I remained silent. He exhaled (still frustrated) and gave me one of the most stellar gym speeches I have ever heard. I felt like I was in an after-school special or a life time movie. “You are not here to become like anyone else, you train to be the best Ruth you can ever be. I don’t care what J. Lo looks like or what she does to look the way she does, I’m here to train Ruth, she is unique, she is strong, and she is her own kind of beautiful.”
I drove home and let his words sink in. If that statement angered a fallible man who loves me with a pure brotherly love, how much more does my Father in heaven who formed me, fearfully and wonderfully created me, grieve over my self-hate? How much damage does a compliment drenched in comparison do to a child? How much time did I spend attempting to look like someone that I was not ever intended to look like? Not to mention its genetically impossible. It’s no wonder I was never satisfied with my results. It’s funny how we spend so much time making sure we are surrounded by safe individuals and seldom stop to assess how safe we are for OURSELVES!!!!! That moment was pivotal for me and I pray that after reading this you can look in the mirror and say “THE MOLD WAS BROKEN AFTER GOD CREATED YOU!”