My sister turns eight this February. She knows she’s beautiful. Mum tells her that every chance she gets. Other people tell her too. Of late though, she’s grown big at quite a fast rate. Now people, including me, tell her she should not eat too much. A woman made a joke about signing her up for Slim Possible the other day. A little girl who has no control over her body is getting unwarranted comments about her looks.

When I was her age, I joined a new school. Like her, my mum had told me I was beautiful every chance she got. However I got into Kidfarmaco Primary School and this group of girls in my class began to taunt me almost immediately. I remember it was something about my lips. No one had ever made fun of my looks before. I got depressed. My eight-year-old self fell sick several times that year, even staying home for weeks.

Eventually I got over it and moved on. I had more pressing issues to focus on like reading and cuddling my new baby brother. But I never forgot. And it registered in my brain.

Fast forward to the year 2014, and I have continued to register comments about me in a special compartment in my brain. I remember both the good and the bad. No matter how much I want to pretend they do not affect me, they do. Funny enough, I never noticed half the things I am conscious about until someone mentioned them.

In the age of uploading photos to social networking sites and tagging a bunch of people who will approve of it and probably make you feel awesome, you are bound to feel low every now and then. We want this approval so bad we have invested in selfies. (I am a pro in selfies by the way). We will delete them if no one likes them on Instagram. We seek to be told we are beautiful so bad that we will go to great lengths to make ourselves up. We want to convince people we are beautiful by literally shouting #nofilter and #teamnomakeup all over the place like we are not sure we are beautiful.

They say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. The same people that tell my sister to cut down on her eating are the same people who tell me to eat because I am too small. And I ask, what do people want? More importantly, what do I want?

Singers have sung to women, telling us we are beautiful. MercyMe, Plumb, Lecrae, Casting Crowns, name them. They will continue to release tracks on the same subject. Funny enough I have never heard a song telling men they are handsome. This is because men and women are different by design and from societal expectations. Even when most of lifestyle magazines and online gossip websites talk about women, they rarely escape to mention beauty, no matter how irrelevant it is to the story. It does not seem irrelevant to the reader because it is rather expected. The other day someone asked me if the reason I had never considered broadcast media (TV) was because I felt I was not beautiful enough for the screen. Well, that was a legitimate speculation and I do not blame him. That is how it is.

Even in the Bible, beauty is important, from Jacob’s Rachel, who it is implied was more beautiful than Leah, (Gen 29:17) to Bathsheba. Men like Saul and David are also described as handsome. Women became queens because they were beautiful. Remember Queen Vashti and Esther?

Beauty is so important that we always wonder whether Jesus was handsome. Isaiah 53:3 seems to suggest otherwise but it has been argued that the statement that takes most people by shock: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” refers to the state he was in after he was tortured. No one really knows how Jesus looked like since his image has been distorted by philosophers’ writings and artists’ paintings. The photograph of the Shroud of Turin is one of the most controversial relics in history. It appeared in later centuries and is said to contain the actual image of Jesus since it was his burial shroud. Developments come up every day on this shroud. Google it.

1 Peter 3:3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Why should it matter whether Jesus was handsome or not? Is it connected to the fact that we are created in God’s image? Who knows what beauty looked like back then anyway? For instance back in Kenya, Kikuyu women shaved their heads to complete baldness and that was beauty to them. Tell me to shave right now and I will really wonder what your deal is; why you want to take away my crown.

After a while, you realize that it’s all about you and what you choose to focus on. I attended a funeral recently and the preacher was awkwardly hilarious. I laughed so much I felt guilty to be so happy at a funeral. He talked about having an identity or kwaga kwirigwo in Kikuyu. He pointed to the old women and men, going into details about how their beauty had faded away to the extent that if one of them laughed, we would be confused about whether they were laughing or crying as they had probably lost their teeth. His point was that focusing on something as fading as beauty was completely misdirected and pointless.

Proverbs 31:30 ​​​​​​​Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting, ​​​​​​but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised.

David was handsome, yes, but we do not remember him for his handsomeness. That would be ridiculous. Esther was beautiful, but we remember her for saving an entire nation. We definitely do not know about Jesus because he was fly. We know him for what he said and what he did.

It is a wonderful thing to be beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with seeking to look your best everyday. Just don’t let it consume you. Don’t let people set your standards for you. If people say you are not beautiful, move on. Chances are you would be considered beautiful in another part of the world. If people say you are beautiful but you don’t even think you are, find out why you prefer to think so lowly of yourself. According to Dove, only 4% of women in the world consider themselves beautiful. They performed a beautiful experiment to prove it.

After that, remember that we will remember you for what you did and get to work doing it if you have not already. You’re beautiful. You’re more than beautiful. You can do more.

I may never be the one that gets a second glance
I may never be the one they call the prettiest
But that’s alright with me

And maybe I don’t follow every crazy passion
Spend all my time trying to get a good reaction
But that’s okay with me

This world is like a trampoline
High and low no in between
Jumping at the chance to please
Everyone but that’s not me

Cause all that matters is
All that matters is
I know your love has set me free
And that’s all that matters to me ~ Addison Road

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Written by Shiku Ngigi

Mum and dad’s daughter. Shouting big sister. Learning to listen. Jesus freak. Recovering tomboy. Mouse potato. Bass addict. Waking up the writer in her.

    8 Comments

  1. Kizzy B January 10, 2014 at 8:16 am Reply

    beautiful

  2. Nix January 10, 2014 at 12:52 pm Reply

    wow

  3. HAR January 10, 2014 at 2:17 pm Reply

    Straight to point, very powerful

  4. Angie January 10, 2014 at 6:19 pm Reply

    Thank you for writing this.

  5. ekragituire January 10, 2014 at 11:56 pm Reply

    Great! This is an interesting topic, I always disliked people who said I was beautiful, because I thought, “kwani that’s all you can see?” Anyway
    Waiting for the next one.

  6. Ciiru January 11, 2014 at 9:12 am Reply

    I loved it!always worth the time:-)

  7. Karen Kadasiah January 11, 2014 at 10:53 am Reply

    Very beautiful and true God bless you 🙂

  8. Gertrude Nyenyeshi February 14, 2014 at 11:56 am Reply

    Very honest Shiku. I love this post sana.

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