I woke up like this…
Tbh, I woke up LIKE THIS!
This is called real life, people. I am going to be awkwardly honest in this blog, because the “I woke up like this” lie is an uncomfortable one for me to discuss. I wrote about this on an Instagram post once, and I get asked about it pretty much everywhere I go. Recently, I was at a photo-shoot for a clothing company. I was told this was going to be an all-natural shoot to represent my message of living original. (Note to self – if you name your whole career anything similar to the concept of Live Original, you are expected to have some kind of super-natural inner confidence and be asked to do many all-natural photoshoots...but it’s all good, fam.)
At this particular shoot, they were planning on using a life-size image, placed behind a window in 2,000 malls in America. I was super excited about it, because I thought this could be a great message for girls to see how a realistic, untouched woman wakes up in the morning. This was a major “girllll you betta humble yourself” moment.
When I got to the shoot things took a bit of a turn. As my crazy-self danced my way inside for the shoot with my vanilla latte in hand I was a little shook by the change of plans the director decided to make by taking one look at me and stating his infamous comment, “Oh, no. This girl does not have the face for a no-makeup shoot.” Ouch. Then, they sent me off for two hours to get my hair and makeup done. Yes, two hours to get that “all natural” look so it could appear that I just happened to wake up like this… FLAWLESS. #nofilter #nomakeup #notruth
Once they were finally content with the look they had created, it was time for the shoot – but I knew it wasn’t over there. They would undoubtedly go in later to Photoshop and edit any and everything that didn’t fit their standard of beauty, such as all those mysterious red dots on my face some of us refer to as pimples. After all of this work, girls everywhere would only see the perfect, life-sized cutout of an “all-natural” me, wondering how they too could “wake up like that.” There are many problems with that… number one it is not really “me” It is just simply a lie giving everyone something to compare themselves to that they can never compete with. Shoot, I can’t even compete with it.
The reason I share these things with y’alI is because I don’t want to be the photo-shopped girl behind the window or the screen – giving you another impossible image to compare yourself to. Do you want to know why I so strongly oppose being that girl? Because I’ve been damaged by “that girl.” It was images like that with false advertisement that sent me down a spiral of trying to obtain an image I did not realize I was never going to be able to reach, because it was not real. I could have never imagined how much it would cost me to attempt to reach the standard of today’s beauty.
Many of you know I am an open book. I share most everything I walk through, but what I’m about to share with you is a particular topic I have always hidden. To be completely honest, it is because I did not know how to speak confidently about something that stole my confidence. I'm sure the media is going to love to run wild with this, but it’s part of my story and I feel led to share after recently finding out that 97 % of women have struggled with negative body image issues. It broke my heart, and I truly want to help change that statistic. Warning to all and as you are about to see me speaking from experience, it is not easy to jump to that 3%, but it is possible.
I struggled with an eating problem connected to a negative body image for about a year. It was dark. It was ugly. It was insanely difficult. It was done in secret. It was hidden. I did not even tell my own mother until recently. I thought I had everything under control. Maybe you have been saying that same thing? I didn’t even realize this small problem that I thought I had under control was creating a ripple effect, creating more and more problems, ones I certainly couldn’t control. I became angry with the person I was becoming. My self-worth was demolished, and I began to lose sight of my true identity.
Many of you have heard me talk on the topic of fear and anxiety, and often I’d get the question, “What were you afraid of?” or “What caused your anxiety?” Here was the problem – I couldn’t answer those questions, because doing so would uncover this problem I had control over protecting. My fear didn’t just stem from one particular thing; it was more of a bi-product of the battle happening in my heart and mind. I was trapped in a battle that took place 24/7, and it was one that day by day began to defeat me. My mirror, my pictures, my clothes, and my view were my worst enemies.
It was like I was looking in a magic mirror, you know, those ones that distort the image? Except it was my mind changing what I saw. My thoughts instantly went to the imperfections. The blemishes. The flaws. At least five times a day, I would wrap my hands around my thighs, making sure they hadn’t grown beyond what I could reach. I knew each little calorie that was in every bite of food I took. I talked about food all of the time. I hid behind the talk, and I actually hid behind encouraging others.
During this time I helped lead others into victory over their battles – but little did they know, I was staying behind on the battlefield. I have heard it said that people develop eating disorders because it is something they can control in their life. That makes so much sense in my case, because during this particular time, so much in my life felt out of my control. Are y’all ready for the biggest plot twist? It was the year after Dancing with the Stars. Shocker, I know. The girl who “did it.” I went to Hollywood and didn’t go crazy for the world to see. I hear it said all of the time, “How do all of these young people go to Hollywood and just lose their minds?” To be honest, I get it. I feel their pain. My struggles and confusion from it all just happened on the inside, rather than the outside for everyone to see – and that can at times make it even worse, because I was able to hide my ugliness on the inside, and that meant no one could call it out. There was no accountability.
Without help or advice from others, we can find ourselves in an uncomfortable pit of shame, feeling extreme confusion in our identity – and often times, it begins to produce a heavy sense of the fear of man. Sure, it’s embarrassing to go crazy on the outside for the world to see, but to go crazy on the inside hiding from everyone is just plain draining. It is where the enemy does his best work. It distorts your view of beauty on the outside and the world around you. It distorts everything. Don’t hear me wrong, here – this isn’t really just another message of how your beauty on the inside is more important then the outside. This is a message highlighting how the extent of your ugliness on the inside is the very thing keeping you from experiencing the beauty on the outside.
I could not see myself as beautiful, because my mind continually told me things like this, “Wow, I definitely do not look like that when I go all-natural. I cannot go out without makeup. Oh my gosh, I need to work out more. I am getting so much cellulite. Guys are not going to think I am as pretty as all these other girls on Instagram, because I don’t post the kind of pictures they do. What if that person has been staring at my pimple the whole time? I bet they are talking about me. I hate my arms; I will just wear long sleeves in this 100-degree weather. I shouldn't eat this meal… it really is not that necessary.” That was the enemy speaking, and when I came into agreement with those thoughts, it stole my perspective. I couldn’t see beauty in my creation, in exercise, in my sisters, in relationships, conversations, the weather, or in the GIFT OF FOOD for crying out loud.
I allowed all of my ugly thoughts and insecurities to manifest a spirit of fear, jealousy and deception, and it stopped me from seeing the world around me clearly. My mom always says, “Sadie, if you are thinking everyone is looking at you, then you are thinking about yourself too much.” This is why I can now gladly accept an all-natural photoshoot, because I know everyone is not looking at me or spending their time thinking about all of my imperfections. You guys don’t follow me on Instagram, read my books or listen to what I have to say because of the way I look! You each so graciously allow me to be a part of your lives because we are real with each other, and you can trust I'm pure-hearted with what I share.
I personally think our culture has created a perspective that is so far off from what we were created for. We search a screen for someone’s heart, but all we find is comments, memes, sub-tweets, twitter-wars, articles and edited photos. We’ve completely swapped out people for profiles, and my fear is we don’t even realize it or consider how a profile does not always display the things that make a human, human. Not only does this set us up for unnecessary comparison, it also opens up the ability to hide behind a computer to throw out anonymous judgement. In a split second, we’re given the freedom to decide if we want to like or comment on a picture, without even thinking twice about the person behind the post. Here’s my challenge for you – if you can’t seem to encourage someone or find encouragement for your own heart, delete that app. Your value is worth so much more than comparing yourself to others, someone’s opinion of you, and even the opinions you’ve created for yourself.
Now, to the people who are on the other side of the screen, where do you find your identity? Are you basing it off these comments? From the mirror? From the filters? From the apps? That number on the scale? Here’s a warning from someone who has been there and done that – you will not find what you’re looking for. If who you are now is not enough for you, then it will never be enough until your perspective changes and your heart takes a shift. If you base your confidence on your outward beauty, on inconsistent things like compliments, filters, lighting and that coveted perfect angle, it will never sustain, because guess what…those are all additions to your life. They don’t make up who you are.
Stop trying to find the perfect lighting, and focus instead on finding the beauty in your heart. Sadly, as I said before, we have a lot of ugliness in our hearts. It’s our sin nature, and it’s not pretty – but I have good news. When we spend time intentionally covering our hearts in beauty, it will flow out of us naturally if we allow it to and if we keep it in the dark. Check your heart before you check the mirror – that is where your true beauty lies.
Here’s the funny thing – now I am happy to do an all natural photo-shoot, and the reality is, I am 15 pounds heavier then I was right after dancing with the stars. I literally cannot even wrap my head around how I was once able to get my hands to wrap around my thigh. Girls, hear me when I say this – you could search my heart and put me on a lie detector test, and I’d still tell you that I am happier, and have more joy than ever before. I drank a large mint mocha cooler this morning, while I worshipped and rooted myself in truth, and girls…I am feeling good. If it means being “less beautiful” in the world’s eyes, that’s okay with me. As long as I still get to seek out real beauty – the kind that is found in God’s word, and is painted out in the world before me. I will gladly lay myself down at the feet of the Creator, not only to encounter more of the beauty He created in me but to experience the creation He surrounds me with.
The day I prayed for the Lord to enlighten my eyes to see His standard of beauty, is the day my whole life changed. But like I have said many times, in order to experience Gods beauty, you have to exhale your ugly. My heart beats behind that quote. Do these old thoughts come back from time to time? Absolutely, but it is my job to take authority over them. Here are some verses you to get flowing in your blood and established in your heart. Do not just read them once. Cover yourself in them daily, before you cover your face.
“Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 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.” 1 Peter 3:3-4
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14