Femininity: on physical appearance

I haven’t devoted an entire blog post to the physical appearance aspect of femininity, but it has been weighing on my mind for a few weeks. Admittedly, it has taken that long to grapple with the topic before I felt comfortable to talk about it. Similarly to when I spoke about health last week, the way femininity comes through in our physical appearance can be a sensitive topic. I know that some women are more interested in that side of things than others, and I do not want to come across as dictating what you should be interested in or how you should present yourself. Just like all my other femininity posts, by now I hope you know I am talking about my own journey, experiences and thoughts; nothing here is “the one right way to be”. (Perhaps I can stop putting that disclaimer at the start of every post?)

This topic has been on my mind because for the last two months my acne has been the worst it’s ever been. I have been wrestling with wanting to remain authentic (something I consider foundational to Godly femininity) whilst also wanting to feel beautiful.

I talked about my skin a few years ago, as well as mentioned it in last weeks post. Perhaps that is a good place to start: I am looking to naturally care for my skin and hopefully take away the acne I currently have through what I eat, and also by implementing more exercise into my life (I have let the habit slip this year). However, it is not something that changes overnight and is something I am aware of every day.

As I said, my skin right now is the worst it has ever been. Working in retail and speaking to customers every day, I have started to wear foundation and concealer.

Last year when I was working in a bookstore, I actually came to the decision that I wouldn’t wear makeup at all. I threw out my products (all of them no doubt being opened for too long anyway) and felt confident in embracing my “natural” face.

It was easy to do so when, at that stage, my skin was the best it had been in my adult life.

What I’ve been thinking about is wanting to be comfortable in my own skin, and feel at home with my appearance and confident without needing to dress up or wear makeup. But on the other side of that, wanting to feel beautiful and knowing I do look superficially better when my acne is hidden.

I’m blessed to be in a relationship and to have friends who don’t make me feel bad about my skin; I know they see me for who I am and I don’t need to wear makeup for their sake. And this is where the balance comes in. I will wear makeup so long as I am happy to do so, without feeling like I have to for other people. I don’t want to become reliant on makeup (or fancy clothes) to feel pretty; I want my confidence to be from God, one that comes from knowing who He is and who He made me to be. And from that will flow a confidence to embrace who I am and what I look like.

I don’t want my desire to feel beautiful to become obsessive or superficial, nor should it overtake my desire for the Lord and His will. While embracing femininity is connected to my spirituality, whether or not I have clear skin becomes so small in comparison to the work God is doing, and to the future we can have with Him.

This post isn’t too long or detailed. I just wanted to be honest about my own experiences, and to remind myself that femininity isn’t flawless. We don’t need to look perfect before we can be who God made us to be. We don’t need to look a certain way in order to share beauty and life with the world.

I am trying to remind myself that there is beauty in what I can create, in how I can interact with others, in how I can take care of my space around me, and these are not dependent on the state of my skin. I can wear a nice dress and have acne. I can look after myself and have acne. It does not have to detract from how I see myself, how I express myself, or the things I enjoy.

I am sitting here now with a pot of tea and some cheese and crackers. I have some more writing I want to get done today, so I thought I would turn it into a lovely afternoon that is special and unhurried. Soon, I will do the dishes and fold the laundry. I will have an afternoon that fills my soul and it will not matter what my skin looks like.

I hope you also have a lovely afternoon.

Sarah xx

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