I’m so vain. I bet I think this post is about me.

I’m back from the beach and the mountains and am enjoying my birthday week with NO Summer of 7 challenges.

But, I know you’re expecting full disclosure on my experience wearing 7 items of clothes and no makeup.

Here it is. Wearing 7 items of clothes is brilliant. I am fully prepared to part with most of my wardrobe now. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? My kids and husband also participated to some degree and the conclusion is, clothes are stupid. No wonder they were part of the punishment for sin.

As for that other crazy thing I did, wearing no makeup was DREADFUL. Full of Dread. Dreadly and full of dreadfulness. I tried to figure out why, and here is the real and true and horrible reason.

I want to be beautiful. I want to be more beautiful than you. I want to be more beautiful than everyone. I want every man, woman, and child to reflect upon the beauty that is me.  I really want this. I know you think I am being tongue and cheek or dramatically confessional, but this week, I realized that I do want everything to be about me . . . in spite of knowing that it is prideful and foolish, petty and childish.

When I walk into a room, I am subconsciously comparing myself to every single woman in the place. My head goes something like this.

Cuter kids.
Uglier kids.
Bigger Boobs.
Too much eye shadow.
Weird hair.
Cute Earrings.
Atrociously tight pants. The slut.
Looks tired.
Maybe younger. (Stop to ask my husband, Does that woman look younger than me? Deeply wise, he scoffs, Noooooo, definitely not.)

I somehow accomplish the rapid fire comparison in a mere nano-second and then categorize everyone into a sophisticated mental caste system. I pattern my behavior and confidence upon my ranking within the elaborate caste I’ve created. Of course, very little of this information has anything to do with ACTUAL SUBSTANTIVE reality, fact, or character traits.

It is all shallow, fleeting, and petty.

I could go on, but this is mortifying. Basically, my naked face caused me to realize, to my horror, that suddenly a mental space opened up in my brain and instead of confidently strolling into a room feeling ready to take on the world, I felt bad, old, and inferior.

Is makeup really that powerful?

Where am I getting my self worth?

This preoccupation upon the gradually sliding cells of my face is beyond ridiculous. BEYOND.

Of course, breaking through this self-deprecation was the occasional realization that the person that I am and should be has NOTHING–as in NO THING– to do with my appearance, but that internal reflection was just as likely to point out that I am GROSSLY VAIN.

It’s GROSS. It’s gross that SO MUCH of my mental space and sub-conscious awareness is wallowing in SELF, SELF, SELF. Despite the truth of God’s Word that I know, I have apparently been soaking my brain in the lies of vanity.

Now I’m going to beat you up a little bit. Are you ready?

A few months ago a close friend of mine wanted to lose the last few pounds of her baby weight by exercising and eating healthfully.  Her weight had gradually crept up, and while she still looked fine, she didn’t feel good and decided enough was enough. On several occasions when she shared about her weight loss plans, I heard other women tease and belittle her efforts, saying, you look fine, or you don’t need to lose weight.  I even heard friends try to encourage her to cheat, eat sweets, or abandon her goals.  She confided that this really frustrated her.  She said, “If you saw a fit-looking man coming out of the gym, would you tell him that he is really wasting his time, that he looks fine, and that he doesn’t need to keep trying to look better.

Her experience really made me think about the way that we women relate to each other. (Here I go with the beating up part.)

Ever since I’ve begun Summer of 7 in an attempt to cut out the excesses of my overgrown life and heart, many of you have unknowingly

  • Helped me rationalize, telling me how you do  the same selfish or vain or excessive things. It’s okay then, right?
  • Compared me to other people or yourself who are not as far along as me. Jen Hatmaker had WAY more items of clothes than I do.
  • Reassured me that I’m already non-excessive enough and don’t need to change. You already compost and recycle; that’s enough.

Girls, let’s not be this kind of friend anymore. Let’s help each other change and grow.

Instead of placating each other and discouraging each other from really rooting out the ICK in our hearts and habits, let’s say, “WOW girl, I’m proud of you for acknowledging that MESS. These issues ARE a big deal! I have them too. Let’s pray for each other.”

This make-up wearing thing made me realize that I have some seriously CORROSIVE SIN CLOGGING up my heart. I need help. I want help. And I intend to get into the Word to allow the Lord to do some spiritual surgery transforming this head.  Will you pray for me?

Let’s not encourage each other to minimize, rationalize, and accept prideful, indulgent, or complacent behaviors that keep us mired in sin.

. . .since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12: 1-2 (NIV)

I’d love to hear you comment on how can we better MOTIVATE each other to change where it’s needed.

This post technically should go in the Clothes blog hop, but I’m also going to put it in the SELF hop ALSO because that’s where I think it really belongs.

39 thoughts on “I’m so vain. I bet I think this post is about me.

  1. Thank you for these honest words! I am so guilty of categorizing others…all the time. I agree we should encourage each other in our spiritual growth. I feel like sometimes I’m, were, almost jealous of how we perceive that other person’s spiritual walk.
    kim recently posted…TMI, CRAP, and what the Lord showed meMy Profile

  2. I had to chuckle at this, because I often joke about how vain I am (but joke in a serious way. Because I TOTALLY am.) Although I will often go to the store or run errands without makeup, I definitely don’t want to be anywhere where people who KNOW me might see me in my natural state! But I think it’s more about how it makes me feel about me vs. how I feel in comparison to others. (Does that make sense?) I literally FEEL more upbeat and energetic when I’m made up. Just this week I started a #doyourmakeup challenge on instagram, so the timing is just funny that I read this today. I started the challenge because I am in the process of pitching myself to a cosmetics company in the hopes of getting a paid gig, not because I’m actually that vain…but I am having lots of fun with it.
    One thing I have learned from going to blog conferences is that everyone is so concerned with what THEY themselves look like, that no matter how much time you spend primping, they aren’t really going to notice YOU. No one’s going to remember whether you looked fugly or fab. So one of my goals, to help me get over myself at these types of events is to really notice and compliment and be positive about what the other women are wearing and how they are looking. That helps me not focus on myself so much.
    You gave me lots of good things to think about, especially the girlfriends encouraging/enabling each other. I’m guilty there, so many of my friends RUN and I think running is the worst form of exercise and constantly tell them they are crazy while I roll out my Pilates mat. I actually find myself getting mad whenever a friend of mine takes up running. I have no idea why. It just seems trendy, I guess? Who knows. I have so many issues! I am glad the Lord knows them all and hasn’t dropped me like a hot potato.
    Jenny from Mommin’ It Up recently posted…CyggyMy Profile

    1. Do not worry. I am not permanently giving up makeup. In fact, I have been wearing so much the last few days, I have quickly run out of makeup remover. 😉 I just want to be more focused on the eternal and internal than I have been. I don’t think I realized until I went 7 days without makeup how much thought I put into what others think of me. I probably would have said that I didn’t care, but I found that just isn’t true. Moreover, I realized that I really can’t be focused much on the concerns of others when I’m all wound up in myself. I hope you get your makeup gig! It sounds fun. I’ll buy from you. 🙂 PS: Jogging is dumb; pilates rocks.

      1. I know, RIGHT? Why torture yourself when there is a semi-fun form of exercise that gets good results! Jeepers, people. I definitely do care what others think about how I look, and I totally need to get over myself. But somtimes makeup is a necessity -as a matter of fact, when I was first couponing hardcore, and bringing 70 trillion coupons to the register each time, I always made sure I was made up before I went to the store because customer service? Is better when you have lipstick on. Sad but true! 🙂

  3. TRUTH! TRUTH! I had a wise friend once give me a piece of advice I never forgot. She said that if someone comes to you with a confession or something they are trying to work through do not ever say “it’s OK, it’ll be alright, or that’s nothing!” She said there willingness to open up to the truth meant that God was working in their heart and to be mindful to never compromise that.

    While that is the most awesomeness piece of advice, there are still times I get it wrong. It’s such the culture we live in — wanting everyone to feel OK. NO — our uncomfortableness is what gives us the guts to grow.

    Love you! BTW – jealous you and Amy got to talk!!!
    Positively Alene recently posted…debra george says go, but the what if’s are killing me.My Profile

  4. Can you believe it, yours is the third blog post I’ve read THIS WEEK about women not dragging other women down mentally or verbally. It’s awesome to see that rebellion of sorts.
    This particular “7” challenge reminds me of The Naked Face Project – have you heard of it?
    Love your posts, Katrina! (Er—when I read them…)
    Alisha Newton recently posted…3 Real Food RecipesMy Profile

    1. Yes, and I joined the Facebook Group for Naked Faces, but I’m too chicken to post my picture–tho now I guess I can now that I’ve posted it on the interwebs.

  5. Can I just tell you that I am WITH YOU regarding being makeup-less. It’s making me sick, how much I’m thinking about myself. Today was day 9 of 40, and it’s just now starting to get less humiliating. (Though it’s still plenty humiliating.)

    So here’s a funny story regarding confronting our issues seriously. I spent a week feeling frustrated reading all of my friends’ updates about that book 50 Shades of Grey, and the Movie Magic Mike, and the entire time, God kept interrupting me to say something. But I kept pushing him away and trying to get MY work done. Finally, to get him off my back, I wrote the words that were weighing on my heart, and posted them to my blog.

    The response has been INSANE. The past two days that post has been averaging a hundred posts PER MINUTE, and has well over 500 comments. What you say about people wanting us to quit it with the sweet-talking and how each other accountable is TRUTH. I’m convinced, by the response to that post, that Christian women WANT to go in their relationship with God, and WANT their friends and family to hold them accountable. It’s amazing, and beautiful, and I was giddy as I read this post.

    Yay for accountability! Yay for getting serious! <3

    Oh, here's the post if you're at all curious. (Maybe be weary of the comments though because it is CHAOS in there.) http://melissajenna.com/2012/06/30/50-shades-of-magic-mike-in-which-i-am-very-uncool/
    Melissa Jenna Godsey recently posted…What is Fasting? (And Why Am I Fasting From Makeup?)My Profile

    1. I’m thrilled about your success with the Magic Mike post (and not at all jealous of your success). ;/ As for makeup, you are brave to continue. I am hoping that now that I know the root of my problem, I will be able to fix it without actually having a naked face. We’ll see . . . .

  6. Awesome thought-provoking post! We women try to “encourage” each other with those unhelpful “you don’t need to…” comments alll too often. What is that about anyway? The next time a friend tells me what she’s working on I’ll be much more conscious of saying things like “good for you” and “how’s it going?”.

  7. Exceptional writing. and thanks for slapping me around! I just this week wrote in my Blog about Hot Lava—-giving others the up and down once over! thank you for bringing it face front again! and ps. you are beautiful. our wonderful GOD created YOU! thank you for being YOU!

  8. love this! love your transparency and how you communicated it. beautiful, beautiful job. and even though we could all say we ARE just like that in our judgment of others (which i believe is the truth), you’re right–that shouldn’t lead to pats on the shoulders and an ignoring of the behavior. we are, truly, each other’s worst enemies.
    maybe after prayer, honesty is the next step. opening up, but also stating that we expect the other person to encourage and hold us accountable rather than giving us an easy out. as we do this for each other, perhaps it will become easier and more of a natural inclination?
    thanks for sharing this, katrina!

    1. Yes, it is hard. I think we like the idea of true accountability, but in reality it stinks. We don’t want to take it or give it. Who wants to be the one to say, “Yeah, you really have an ego problem” instead of “Noooo, mirrored wall-paper isn’t vain!”?? I think giving up the need to be liked is part of letting go of vanity for me. 🙂

  9. Thank you for your honesty and “beating me up”. Yes, i needed that. I think in order to encourage one another in this way we have to decide first to be willing to accept that kind if true honest friendship from others. Then we need to get brave and help stop each others spiraling words/comments. We take a chance in our honesty with one another. A chance of losing the approval of those we call friends. But this is a risk we need to take to be genuine and Christlike.

  10. I do not remember how I found your blog, but I am so thankful that I did – I have been following you for 3 weeks now and I love how open and honest you are about what God is doing in your heart and how beautifully you share those with your readers and people you do not know. Thank you! You are beautiful and God is using you and doing good things in you 🙂

  11. I think the issues with women stem from what words we choose to use. I once worked at a college as a girls RA and all it would take is one girl who to the general public looked thin, to start complaining about her weight and then a firestorm of self-conscious girls who also became obsessed with weight would emerge. After some thought, I realized that one girl would think…if she thinks her thighs are big what must she think about mine?….and to some degree, nothing has changed. When one lady starts to diet and all of her friends
    are the same size they feel judged in some twisted way. I made a rule the next year I was an RA at the school. No one could say fat…ever. Even if you no longer fit into your pants….what was allowed was focusing on being healthy. Girls could say they felt unhealthy and were going to work on being healthier. No one argued with that, and the whole atmosphere of self-conscious nit-picking morphed into an encouraging group goal of being over all healthier. Words! They change us.

    1. Well, I think we do it with body image, but I’m mostly concerned with how we do this with sin. I think Kay’s comments are right on though . . . it isn’t that easy.

  12. Self-deprecation is a social tool that women use (just like your post on “This is probably wrong, but…”) to build relationships by disguising anything that might be construed as “better than” by other women.

    As women, we are socialized to walk into a situation and do exactly what you described in this post: compare, contrast, create a hierarchy, then fit in where you’re supposed to, by reassuring the women around you that you are not trying to sneak in ABOVE them. “It’s not a competition! I’m a friend! See, I’m just as messed up as you!”

    And then the women we’re relating to are SUPPOSED to reassure us that we are all actually FINE and it’s no big deal, and we should be happy right where we are. The more a person self-deprecates, the more we’re supposed to reassure to soothe their anxiety.

    This is how the world of women works.

    Genuine self-revelation is NOT a social norm for women, except in very close, personal, trusting relationships.

    Blogs are not very close, personal, trusting relationships.

    Therefore. The natural assumption in blog world is going to be that you’re being self-deprecating as a social tool. And the natural response is going to be reassurance.

    If you’re doing genuine self-revelation on the blog, you can expect a bunch of non-congruent responses from women who are just trying to do what social convention requires them to do: reassure you.

    Now your sister Laura can say something that expresses genuine love, while allowing for change: “I love what God is doing with you.” But that’s because your relationship is solid and loving and she’s in a different place with you than all the strangers who are just doing what social convention requires them to do: build relationship by reassuring you.

    I think when you ask women to stop being reassuring, it’s then hard for them to know where to go. Because it’s a blog, my dear. The (non)relationship only supports reassurance.

    When it comes to the Summer of 7, there is a whole lot of self-deprecation going on. And it’s hard for me to tell if it’s just a social tool (I’m in this group! I’m a mess! I’m a failure! Reassure me!) or if it’s genuine self-revelation about issues I haven’t realized about myself before (Good grief, am I really THIS self-absorbed??)
    Kay Bruner recently posted…Summer of 7: The Halftime ShowMy Profile

    1. I guess I agree and disagree. I guess I agree, but I also want the community of Christian women to stop being such mamby-pamby encouragers–in spite of social norms–and truly motivate each other to change when we see it is necessary. A lot of the women who are commenting here DO KNOW me. I do think part of it is relationship–maybe a lot, but I see SO MANY blogs that seek to encourage and inspire. I’d like us to start taking that drive to the next level and really motivate holiness among one another. If we are posting it on the internet, we are placing ourselves in an accountable position. I guess I’m mad at social norms right now because they seems to detract from authenticity . . .

      1. Agreed. And also, for what it’s worth, I INTENTIONALLY put “yourself” because it makes more sense for my specific point. I love what God is doing with your SELF. But… way to mass correct my grammar. 😉

        1. Do you want me to change it to read “Your Self”? I will happily do this for you, but I will not tolerate misuse of the reflexive. I have my standards. 🙂

    2. Ouch. I think that one of the things that Katrina does best is self-deprecate, but I think it is coming from a genuine desire to see herself clearly and transform. I’ll tell you… I can validate what she is saying by saying ‘yes, me too” (as if that were to make her feel any better) and also “Ouch, I was at your house the other day, were you thinking about how I haven’t lost my baby weight? Or How I still look pregnant? Were by 20 extra lbs distracting you? Or how I definitely chose the wrong shoes to go with my outfit (I took them off at the door to distract from this fact).” Wait maybe that was me… comparing how thin she is after 3 kids… and feeling personally reassured by the acceptable amount of clutter in her kitchen. Am I just making her point here? My mind needs a renewal, thing is… I don’t really know where to even start. Maybe throwing it out there in a post like this is a good place to start. So that’s a little real life honesty thrown into the blog-o-sphere for you.

      1. Reading your comment, I realize that maybe I’m not quite as “vain” with friends as with strangers. I didn’t notice any of the things that you pointed out (except maybe my cluttery kitchen), so I guess maybe my vanity tops where I am trying to impress or present, and I am able to be comfortable with you so I don’t feel as competitive. I was just glad to have you visit. (Okay, I admit, I was disclaimering my garden right and left b/c I perceive you as being a fab gardener.) Maybe God is healing me? Or . . . ?? I think I am going to do a follow up post where I clearly distinguish between the whole body image vanity and all that contrasted with the spiritual implications. I think we tend to reassure one another about our bodies AND our sin b/c obviously for us gals, that is tied up together. Maybe instead of all the self-deprecation and agreement, we need to just give each other a nice encouraging slap on the arse and say, “It’s not about you! OR ME!!” Love you girl!

        1. i just read your follow up… and your reply. bottom line, we do think it is all about US, how we feel, how we look. I am chronically self absorbed and yes, you called it the dirty word, sin. SIN SINNY SIN SIN. Even while you are talking about YOU, I can make it about ME. YAy! How ridiculous. But, that is the nature of this beast… and honestly I’d love to get over it, ie repent. Somehow I think the nature of transformation in this is…. drum roll… thankfulness. That is part of the renewing of our minds I think. Would love to read more thoughts as you work through it.

  13. I’ve read your post, and many of the comments. I understand, but I’ve usually been the other side: that person is: cuter, prettier, thinner, more interesting…than I am. We all have our issues.

    I recently saw this on Pinterest…and thought it might be appropriate in this discussion:

    “Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” Og Mandino

    Hmmm, wonder if that treatment needs to be extended to ourselves as well?

  14. I used to wear long pants while working in 90 degree weather because I didn’t like the way my legs looked. A dear friend finally broke through the “shame” I felt by telling me that what i really was feeling was PRIDE. No one was looking at my legs anyway. It was self-pride – and sinful. I knew she was right, began working on the sinful part, and began wearing shorts like every other sane person in hot weather. I can’t say I never look in the mirror without wishing I had better legs, but I no longer let my perception of my legs dictate my life.

    We need people in our lives who are willing to confront us with our sinful behaviors, especially when we don’t see them that way, but we also need encouragement. It’s hard not to be sucked into the “reassurance” we feel we need to give when someone is putting themselves down, but an honest reassurance is fine. We all want to know we are appreciated for who we are and what we do that’s good and upright. Sometimes the best response to “I look fat in this” is “It’s a great color on you, it brings out the color of your eyes.” It avoids the whole fat issue, is an honest remark, and doesn’t encourage more self-deprecation. It’s amazing how a little heart-felt compliment can brighten a person’s day.

    1. Yes, I think you are right. Yours is my favorite comment so far because I think you have struck on the balance. We need to focus on the positive without ignoring the negative. But I have to say that overlooking body image issues in a friend is a different thing than overlooking sin. I guess maybe my post created an analogy where there should have been one, but they are different. A friend loveth at all times, but a friend shouldn’t let a friend wallow in her sin or wear high-wasted jeans. 😉

      1. You posted while I was composing my PS. 🙂 I think we’re on the same page.

    2. PS – People who are always putting themselves down need more than just a few compliments, they need to know God loves them as they are. That’s not an easy thing to learn (I’m still working on it). We also need to be loving, caring, occasionally “in your face” friends, like my friend was, and tell people when they are dropping into the sinful zone. It’s scary (what if they won’t be my friend anymore?), but if we want to help them grow, we must. And we must be ready to be on the receiving end of those “reminders” because we aren’t perfect either.

  15. Oh man, am I with you on this one. I am having a hard time now that I’m so huge, my face is swollen, and there’s no point in wearing makeup with Gavin gone. It’s like I’m just waiting to re-assume my “real” self (check out my FB profile pic), thinking longingly of slimmer days – which is SO wrong when I waited and prayed for SO long to be great with child (now children)! And with 6 kids, makeup may be VERY scarce – but I bet my kids will love me anyway. And maybe, for Gavin’s sake, I’ll manage to slap some on before he returns from work. 😉 I so admire your honesty and I love you!

  16. This is fantastic. I *hate* how much I relate to your description of what it’s like for a woman to walk into a room. I remember reading Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and being so amazed at his insight into a woman’s mind when he describes her walking into a ballroom at one point. Anyway, great thoughts. And of course it doesn’t matter if I think they’re great or not, right? You’re learning something from the Lord that’s *for you* and passing it along to whomever may resonate with it. That’s all you can do.

    P.S. I may or may not have decided today that I will not be vlogging for an upcoming project because I felt too ugly. Ahem.
    Misty Krasawski recently posted…Summer of 7: Media WeekMy Profile

    1. The very idea of vlogging is horrifying to me. This coming for a woman who aspires to be a public speaker. Seriously.

  17. Preach it, sister! One Sunday I was standing outside with Linda greeting people as they came in and what did I notice we women ALWAYS comment on – our clothes!! I thought, “Can’t we say something about how the person’s smile lights up the place or even just how glad we are to see them????” I am SO guilty of this myself – just like you – critiquing someone’s appearance and comparing myself to it. I think you’re beautiful – but that is not the best thing I can say about you, is it? I pray I can take the time to let the Holy Spirit show me what someone needs to hear about themselves.

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