Maybe this blog post you’re about to read doesn’t really “belong” on this blog. But then again, maybe it does. After all, it’s about my life and how I view the world. Before I start handing down my judgement, I recommend you watch this video. This is what I’m going to be writing about:
Several of my friends have posted this on facebook with comments along the lines of how amazing it is and how every girl should watch it. And privately I think: No. No way. I hate this video. But I don’t write it. To just say “no” or “it’s awful” wouldn’t be enough. And it would probably be misunderstood. “Oh, she doesn’t agree with the Jesus part.” On the contrary, that’s the only part that I do agree with. But my reasons for not liking it are too long and complicated for a facebook comment where people probably don’t actually really care, so I finally decided to vent my pent up frustrations here. It will be long, complicated, and messy. And notice now that the tone of this blog is going to be a bit sarcastic because that’s just what I’m like and that’s how unhappy I am about this video. I’m only human. A human loved by God, but still human.
“If every woman believed EVERY WORD in this 3 minute video – it could literally change the world”. No. Denied. Wrong. Face palm. Why do you think it’s a man in the video telling women these things? Why is it that when a man says this, women say “yes, amazing, brilliant! share with your girlfriends!” but when a woman says it, it gets a nod and a smile and is then forgotten? Because we’ve heard it before. That we’re worthy. That we’re “smart”. That we’re “beautiful”. If we would just believe it. But women all go through this struggle. Women understand this struggle. We all go through it. We all know that we hate feeling ugly. That being called ugly by someone precious to us is one of the worst things that can happen. Do men understand this? Maybe. This guy seems to. Maybe. Ah, a man telling us we’re beautiful and smart and worthy! That’s a game changer! After all, isn’t it men that we want to hear this from? Isn’t it largely for men that we put make-up on? High-heels on? Yes, sometimes we just want to feel beautiful, but yes, when a man calls us beautiful we get that nice warm feeling inside that’s a little different from when a woman says it. A woman calling us ugly doesn’t mean so much. “Oh, she’s just jealous.” “She’s just having a bad day.” She just knows that being called ugly is one of the worst insults she can make to another woman. A man? Maybe he’s just angry. Maybe he just doesn’t know what he’s saying. Maybe he means it. Because he’s not fully aware of how much it hurts when he says that this dress isn’t very flattering. That I walk funny in these heels. That my make-up is like a cake.
I’m not the best at getting my thoughts across. I feel like all through this post I will be making disclaimers or trying to clear things up. I’m going to be clumsy and blunt and brutal in this post. Girls want to look pretty – not 100% for men. But not 100% not for men either. Others say that they don’t care what people think. But let’s face it – we women do care what other people think. Why else would this random guy be saying stuff like “you’re beautiful” and “you’re smart” and posting it on the internet? And why else would it have been shared by people on facebook?
So why is it that if women believe everything here, it could literally change the world? Do men no longer matter when it comes to changing the world? I don’t think anyone would agree with that. Look at the struggles we’ve had over rape. Rape, the one thing that most everyone finds to be deplorable and inexcusable. But – she shouldn’t have worn those clothes. She was asking for it. She shouldn’t have been walking around late at night. She shouldn’t have let herself get drunk. It’s all her fault that she got raped by a man. Him? No, it’s just unfortunate. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Oh, you know, boys will be boys. Men also have a responsibility to help people change the view that women have of themselves, and that men have of women.
So, onto the actual content of the video:
1. Those arghhhhh lists!
“You are beautiful. You are smart. You are kind. You are funny.” I wonder how they came up with the traits they put in these lists. Why beautiful, smart, kind, funny, powerful, capable, etc? Isn’t it because that is exactly what society values? I don’t see anywhere in the Bible God saying, “I love you and you are beautiful, kind, smart, funny, and powerful all rolled into one! Go you!” No. God says, “every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood” (Genesis 8:21) and yet “See what love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1). Hence why, to me, these lists seem artificial and unneeded and unhelpful and unbiblical. They made me cringe. They reminded me of confidence classes, where everyone leaves feeling amazing about themselves until they walk back into reality. A reality where not everyone encourages them, or reaffirms them, or loves them. And then they mutter those chants under their breath – “I am beautiful. I am smart. I am successful!” – precisely because they don’t believe them. And why should they? They have no basis in fact. Not everyone is smart. Not everyone is “successful”. I argue that everyone is beautiful – but not always from society’s viewpoint.
And yet, to feel good about ourselves, we have to believe that we’re these things too? Because that’s what the guy in this video is implying. “You are smart.” Since when did being smart and beautiful mean we’re worthy, whether we believe it of ourselves or not? I’m not particularly smart – I do basic addition and subtraction on my fingers, and anything beyond multiplication is pretty much beyond me. Oh, I’m sure there are people that think whenever someone says this that they’re just being humble, or trying to get sympathy or a contradiction. I’m perfectly happy with my poor mathematical ability. I’m glad not everyone has my poor mathematical ability, but it doesn’t make me feel unworthy. Why should it? Why should I believe that “I am smart” in order to feel worthy? Why does this guy seem to think that that should be important to me? Because that’s what the world sees as good. A good education is the best wealth there is. A good education gets you to better places. Well, some of us just aren’t academic. Are we less worthy because we work as janitors, as bin men, as waitresses? Why should some people be made to feel ashamed when people ask them what they do for a living simply because they are stay-at-home mothers, or because their job doesn’t require much of an “education” or pay very well?
He’s hitting my head with a hammer with every word, blows that make me feel smaller and smaller. Because what he’s really saying is: you should be powerful, strong, capable. Just because you say it doesn’t mean I am, or that I feel like I am. Read about the women in the Bible? You do realise that their strength came from God and that actually that is where their worth, where their praiseworthiness comes from? Not that they were powerful or strong or capable. Read about Esther. She wasn’t powerful. She wasn’t strong. She wasn’t capable. Heck, just by walking into a room where her husband was sitting without being expressly invited could have meant her death! Does that make her powerful, or strong, or capable? No, that makes her faith in God incredible and beautiful to see. Yes, they changed the world. Because they believed in God, and because of their faith in God, not because of any innate qualities that were inside of them. And let me stress that they were beautiful because of that.
2. The lack of “proof”
He makes claims. That he doesn’t back up. I am loved by God. BACK IT UP. (Or I will do it for you: 1 John 3:1 “See what love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”) I am worth dying for. BACK IT UP. (Or, again, I will for you: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”) Cos I ain’t gonna walk into my not-picture-perfect life and think I am worthy based on what some random dude tells me. Especially when he talks to an empty audience hall. By himself. Is he the only one that thinks this? Is he too scared to say it in a public place? That empty audience hall echoes emptiness back at me. They probably chose it for a (dare I say good?) reason, but it speaks volumes of negative to me.
“You are worthy to be loved.” “You are never too much. You are always enough.” Separate these two phrases please. Worthy to be loved by who? Certainly not by God. God made us, made a beautiful world for us, and starting with Adam and Eve we proceeded to destroy our relationship with God and each other. We deserve death. But God gave us life. Not because we deserved it. But because he loves us and is merciful. Perhaps we are worthy to be loved by other people, but first and foremost God calls on us to love others. “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your sol and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ ” (Matthew 22:37-39) I don’t see anything about being worth loving – but that we should all love each other regardless. Furthermore, because we are loved by God we are made worthy of love. Not because of what we are, or who we are, but because of who God is.
And then the next phrase which should be prefaced with “To God”. To God you are never too much. You are always enough. Because, let’s face it, to our families, our friends, our partners, there are times when we are too much or not enough. There is no never and always when it comes to human relationships. So either make it clear that to God we are never and always, or scrap it altogether.
“You are the most stunning of all God’s creation.” I think this might be in the Bible somewhere. Is it? Am I really the most stunning of God’s creation? Give me a Bible verse please. You don’t even have to say it. Just link the verse somewhere. No? So I have to take that phrase at face value? Um, thanks. Mr. Guy-I-Have-Never-Met-And-Therefore-Cannot-Trust. I actually searched for this and the closest thing I came to was Ecclesiastes 3:11, which says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time”. Yes, everything is beautiful. That includes women, but does not elevate women above all other creation. I found a lot of other things in google when I typed that first sentence in, but nothing from the Bible. And while it might be pretty and give you warm fuzzies, I’m perfectly happy with just the truth: that I am a beautiful creation. I don’t have to be the most beautiful, but thanks for the flattery.
“You deserve someone who would give up their life for you because you are powerful.” Yeah, maybe we do, but not because we’re powerful. Powerful?? No, just no. I am not powerful. God is powerful. I do not want to be powerful: “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians: 12:10) And maybe that little add on of “because you’re powerful” was just a really bad slip-up of trying to move the monologue on.
Ultimately, do you know what this video makes me feel? Pressure. To be beautiful. To be smart. To be kind. To be funny. To be powerful. To be strong. To be capable. Pressure because I can’t be all these things, so let’s not even go into believing that I already am all these things. I feel pressure to put out this view to society that my life isn’t falling apart. That I don’t feel vulnerable. That I don’t feel negative about myself sometimes. So much pressure. And I get enough of that from society without some random stranger adding on more from some misguided view that I need all these lists of amazingness when all he had to do was say: You are a child of God. You are loved by God. You are so loved that God sacrificed himself for you. Shouldn’t that have been enough? So why did he preface it with 2 minutes of pressure?
If I were beautiful, smart, kind, capable, powerful, strong, funny, etc. then what need would I have of God? But it’s because I am not all these things, or even perfectly one of these, that I look to God for my worth and find it. I believe I’m worthy. I believe I’m precious. Because of this:
Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
1 John 3:1 “See what love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”
But most of all, because “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Feel free to express yourself in the comments. I know that not everyone will agree with me. I did agree with some of what he said – that our worth comes from being loved by God, mainly, but man did he screw that up by not laying down any proof i.e. Bible verses.