More than just pretty.

One of me and my sister’s favourite programmes for post-school relaxation was America’s Next Top Model because we were delighted by the concept of a panel of beautiful people picking out the most beautiful people in the USA. Oh, and we were fascinated by the hairdos, crazy make-up and extravagant outfits. While it’s a very entertaining show, it taps into our desire to be beautiful and subconsciously tells us (because of the fact that we’re sitting on the sofa, not walking down the catwalk) that beautiful isn’t us.

I don’t know about you, but I somehow grew up with this underlying thought that if I could be a model then ‘I would’ve made it in this world’. I desperately wanted the swishing hair, the long, toned legs, the perfect complexion and everything else that I guess you gained from the title ‘Model’.

This thought came crashing down when I watched a TED talk by Cameron Russell entitled ‘Looks aren’t everything, believe me, I’m a model’. The video has the capacity to shock and to free girls from false ideas.

Here’s one of the things she says:

If you’re wondering, ‘If I have thinner thighs and shinier hair, will I be happier?’, you just need to meet a group of models because they have the thinnest thighs, the shiniest hair and the coolest clothes, and [yet] they’re the most physically insecure people probably on the planet.

When I first heard this, I was like, ‘Excuse me . . . I’ve been trying so hard to look like a runway model and now you’re telling me that even they aren’t happy with how they look?!’ Nuts, right?

Does it make it all seem a tad pointless to you like to does to me? If the people in society who are deemed to be the pinnacle of beauty aren’t secure in themselves, then surely this whole confidence, self-assurance thing has to do with something other than ‘beauty’ itself?

In this case, perhaps ‘being enough’ has nothing to do with what we look like. The word ‘perfection’, according to the reliable (or not so reliable) source called Wikipedia, means: ‘a state of completeness and flawlessness’. Different make-up and skin care brands will say that ‘flawlessness’ is achievable but, my goodness, it is not (marketing is a money-making scheme, remember – they like to profit from our self-doubt and insecurities).

There is such beauty in imperfection. There is beauty in the people who I meet who are so OK with their flaws that they ooze confidence and happiness in themselves. Flaws are what make us uniquely us.

It’s funny because, as I write this, I’m thinking about the flaws that I see in myself. When I say them out loud I realize how silly they are!

I have a black freckle in the middle of my nose (people mistake it for dirt – it’s incredibly awkward every time!!!).
My legs are slightly skewwhiff when I walk.
I have little eyes which get lost when I try to smile.

I’m actually cringing at myself. And I’m kinda stuck now.

I’m trying to figure out why there aren’t more. I think it’s because, yes, there are things I would change if I could (like having slimmer legs, being more tanned and more defined cheek bones (gosh, I feel silly writing them)) but actually they aren’t me. I’m no walking image of perfection but I am me. And the most bizarre, but totally true, thing is that these flaws seem gigantic to me but the likelihood is that people around me have never even noticed them, or in their minds they’re exactly the things that make me me in the first place. How fantabulous is that? OK to change to me from you??

Let’s take the first one on my list. One of my insecurities through school was a dark black freckle that is very central on the top of my nose. The amount of people =who thought it was dirt was UNBELIEVABLE. OK, so it was partly believable. Anyhow, when I actually started up a conversation with my friends about it, they explained how much they loved it because it made me me (plus the fact that it’s very central is quite satisfying). Now I decide to OWN IT.

You may find that when it comes to thinking about those things you would change about yourself, they are actually a bit silly and would totally mean that you aren’t you.

So basically, if we’re seeking perfection then, yes, we will never feel like we are enough.

But, if you’re seeking to be you, then you’re starting from a very good place. If you’re seeking to be you, then you’re in for the biggest adventure of all.

By Jessie Faerber

Taken from More Than Just Pretty by Jessie Faerber, published by SPCK, 2018.  For more information visit

Jessie is a Youth Pastor in South West London.
She is the founder of a project called Belle which
is passionate about girls realising their true value,
beauty and purpose through workshops in schools
and youth groups. She is enthusiastic about journeying with girls, being real and authentic with her story and championing girlhood in all that she does.


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