What's your shoe size?

Updated: Nov 2, 2019

Do you ever catch yourself looking at someone else and almost subconsciously - almost reflexively - thinking something like, “I wish I had a smile like that!” or “I would love to have her hair,” or, “if only my legs were that long!”? I'm pretty sure we've all done this at some point in our lives!

We always seem to want what we don't have, and we can get so focused on wishing for "something else" that we completely lose sight of the "something else" that makes us a beautifully unique individual.

You've most likely heard this message, or at least a very similar message, more times than you can count. You know, "comparison is the thief of joy" and "stop comparing yourself to others" and "accept yourself the way you are" and all that. You're probably reading this and thinking, "I know, Andrea. I know this, I've heard this a million times before. The horse is dead!"

But is it, though? Am I really beating a dead horse, here?

Do we really, truly know that we shouldn't compare ourselves to others?

Do we really, truly understand why we shouldn't compare ourselves to others?

Do we really, truly believe that we don't need to compare ourselves to others?

Do we really, truly practice loving and accepting ourselves exactly as we are?

Here's the thing: if we really, truly knew this message, the world would look very different to the way it does right now. Would the beauty industry be able to cash in on our insecurities so easily if we weren't comparing ourselves to others all the time? If we weren't constantly wishing for something else, wanting what others have, and feeling dissatisfied in our own skin? Would we all constantly be dieting to shrink body part A but grow body part B, trying to hide feature X but enhance feature Y, tweaking this and tucking that and trying to change, change, CHANGE???

You were flawless LONG before someone told you this ☝ would hide your "imperfections."

I've always liked and appreciated my height. Being a relatively tall teenager gave me an advantage over most tennis opponents; and now I fit perfectly under Hannes' shoulders when he holds me. But you know what comes part and parcel with being relatively tall? Relatively big feet. Long, skinny feet with long toes; feet that sometimes have caused me to sigh with relief to see a pair of size 8 shoes in stock. As a growing teenager, my feet looked even bigger in relation to my lanky legs and arms (you all know exactly which phase of puberty I'm talking about - the one where you feel totally awkward and gawky and like you're all limbs and nothing else!😄) I remember looking at girls with these dainty, beautiful little Cinderella feet and wishing with all my heart that I also wore size 3 shoes. I didn't want to be shorter, but I wanted my feet to be smaller.

Now, let's just for a minute consider what a disaster it would have been if I'd gotten what I thought would be ideal. A tall, skinny teenager with long limbs but tiny feet, desperately trying to stay vertical and keep her balance? Yeah...that wouldn't really have worked out so well, right? 🤦‍♀️😂

Beautiful souls, we need to accept ourselves the way we are and focus on what we do have, not on what we don't have. Wishing to be taller won't make you taller. Wishing for smaller feet won't make them smaller. It doesn’t matter how hard I try; I am never going to fit into size 3 shoes! And you know what? That's because my feet aren't supposed to fit into size 3 shoes!

I remember watching a talk by Dr MK Strydom in which she opened up about spending her youth wishing for a smaller, daintier body frame and bone structure. She spent years feeling dissatisfied and self-conscious about her "bulky, heavy frame," envying more petite girls and thinking "if only I were smaller, then I'd be happy!" It was only when she entered into her calling as an orthopedic surgeon that her attitude towards her body changed from dissatisfaction to deep appreciation, because she had the strength she needed to correctly align and set patients' bones and help them heal from injury. She realized that had she been born with the smaller frame she'd wanted so badly, she wouldn't have been able to fulfill her calling!

Ladies, can I let you in on a secret? Even if we could change our height, or foot size, or eye color, we still wouldn't be happy with what we had. All we'd do is start focusing on something else we'd like to change; we'd move on to the next "if-then!"

Even altering things that we can change, like our hair color or our weight, won't do the trick. If you've ever thought that losing (however much) weight will make you happy, then please hear me when I say this: it will NOT! Losing weight might make you healthier (depending on your starting point), but it will not make you happier. It won't lead to, "now I'm 100% happy with the way I look," it will lead to, "okay, now if I can just lose 2 more kgs, or tone up my tummy, then I'll really be happy!" It will never end, it's not sustainable or healthy, and it's exhausting!

Ways to develop the healthy habits of loving and accepting yourself as you are, and to stop playing the comparison game:

1. Memorize scriptures and quotes

to say to yourself whenever you hear that nasty voice in your head whisper, "you're too this," "you're not enough that," "she's so beautiful, don't you wish you looked like her?" etc. etc. Some of my favorites:

"I am fearfully and wonderfully made!" (bet you didn't see that one coming...😜😉)

"God made me the way I am on purpose. He caused me!"

"I am His workmanship!"

"I'm okay and I'm on my way!"

2. Give yourself one compliment every morning

and say it out loud! Declare it! (this will probably feel weird at first, but it really works!) Be happy with who you are and where you're at right now.

3. Pay attention to the things that you find attractive about other people.

You'll notice that the features that make them unique and remarkable are the features that make them different, and this will help you realize that the same is true of you! The things that people find most beautiful about you are the things that stand out, that are different, and that I'm willing to bet are the things you wish you could change.

4. Be character-focused, not appearance-focused.

Compliment other people on their personality and character traits rather than their physical traits. If a work colleague nails a high-pressure task assigned to her at the last minute, compliment her on her work ethic and time management skills instead of on the shoes she's wearing. Or if a friend who hardly ever exercised runs her first 5k after months of working hard at improving her health, tell her how inspired you are by her perseverance and hard work, not by how much weight she's lost. We tend to immediately go for appearance compliments; the "you look gorgeous today, I love your hair like that!" or "you look amazing - have you lost weight?" And while it's never bad to make someone else feel good about themselves, let's try focus more on making them feel good about their beautiful inner qualities! After all, these are what really matter at the end of the day!

5. Only read and take in positive, healthy messages from the media.

You do not have to be x height, y weight, have this hair color, have that skin color, wear these clothes, and on and on and on, to be beautiful or acceptable to other people. It is not your job to squeeze yourself into a mold that the world says you need to fit.

Don’t dress or make yourself up a certain way because that’s how you think people expect you to look. I did that for years: I dyed my hair because I thought people would accept me more. I wore clothes and listened to music and watched films based on what other people wore and listened to and watched.

· After learning my identity in Christ, I found myself thinking “how boring!” How boring for us to all try and look the same, think the same, live the same, act the same, be the same.

· You need to be the happiest, healthiest, most authentic version of you that you can be, and that means figuring out and living the life that God has called you to live – nobody else, you!

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