I have been a slave to my outward appearance for most of my life. My mother, excited to have a girl, would dress me up in cute little outfits. “Tammy, don’t get your clothes dirty.” At an early age, I understood it was very important to my mother how I appeared to others. I also realized clothes, cute clothes, fashionable clothes, brought me attention. “Oh, don’t you look cute.” I remember being fashionable became a huge goal, as far back as elementary school. I had to have white go-go boots. And I was the first to sport gaucho pants in sixth grade. Clothes became my idol.
I remember looking in the mirror in my early teens. I gave myself an honest evaluation. “Well, you will never be beautiful or gorgeous. You don’t have beautiful eyes or luxurious hair. But at least you can dress well, wear make-up to improve what you have, keep your hair in the latest style and you will pass. You won’t be ugly at least.” Hair and make-up became just as important as clothes.
The world sends that message to women. “Your outward appearance is the most important thing about you.” The number of commercials for make-up, hair care products and clothes reveals the significant emphasis the world places on the image we portray to others. The world trains us that we have to be beautiful to be desirable. That is what all those commercials are driving at, we must look good to attract the opposite sex.
I bought into all of it. I wanted to appear fashionable and put together, so others would approve of me. So, I could eventually snag a husband, a good-looking husband. But once I captivated and subsequently married my good-looking husband, I still felt the burden to look good. I still had women to impress.
However, God has set me free from my slavery to my outward appearance. How? He helped me understand that my outward appearance was a part of my old identity. I have a new identity in Christ. I literally will tell myself in the mirror, “it doesn’t matter what you look like, Tammy, because you are a child of God. You are a beloved disciple. You are an ambassador of Christ.” Then the pressure to look good fades into the background. My perspective changes and I desire to look like Christ not the latest fashion trend.
What freedom I experience when I no longer worry about what I see in the mirror! Clothes are no longer an idol. Do I walk around in gunny sacks? No, I still like clothes and like to have some fashionable items. It is my attitude toward them that is different. I find I’m more content with my closet. I can wear “old” clothes and think nothing of it. I don’t have to have new clothes to make me feel good. I don’t have to look good to know I am valuable to God and others.
I must be honest, I can sometimes slip back into my old thought patterns. “I wonder what she thinks of my outfit?” “I hope I look okay.” “You look awful, change your clothes or put on some make-up!” The heaviness returns and I become a slave once again. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit comes to my rescue most times and reminds me who I am. I am a princess of the King of Kings! I am God’s masterpiece. That identity seems much more significant than any fashion statement I could ever make. Praise be to God, he has set me free!