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“Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful” by Jamila Jackson

"Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful" by Jamila Jackson
"Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful" by Jamila Jackson (Photo by Christopher Malcolm)

I’ve never felt like I fit in.

I’ve lived on the east coast, west coast and in the south, which makes for a unique mix of dialect, fashion sense and values. Although I’ve lived in California for over 20 years, I still say “y’all” and rock cowboy boots any chance I get. I’m a black woman who has spent most of my life living in predominantly white neighborhoods and being the minority at school and work. I was the girl in grade school that got dumped by my first boyfriend after 24 hours of ‘going steady’ because he got made fun of for having a black girlfriend. I was the girl in high school that was “too black” to fit in with most of my classmates and tried way too hard to “be black” so I could fit in with some of my classmates. I was the aspiring runway model who was insecure about my looks. I’m the tall woman who wishes she was a shorter. I’m a Christian who blasts gospel music in my car, but I’ll bob my head to Tupac too. I am the woman who likes to watch Masterpiece theatre, re-runs of Murder She Wrote and Poirot, while everyone else seems to be watching Scandal, The Bachelor and Dancing with the Stars. I am the encourager who battles depression. I am the woman who people assume doesn’t have children because she’s focused on her career. (If you don’t know my story, you can read it here.)

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. I’ve always been different and never felt like I fit in anywhere. Like you, I’m unique. None of us are exactly alike. And most of us aren’t who others assume we are based on our looks, our race, our age, where we live or where we went to school. That’s the beauty of the way we were created. We may have similar heights or eye colors, interests or experiences, but we each have something that makes us different from everyone else in the world.

This is a beautiful thing. We are all part of God’s masterpiece. But it’s hard being different, until you realize that being different makes you unique and being unique makes you special. So let’s turn things around. Take a minute to make a list of the the things that make you feel different. Why do you feel like you don’t fit it? What are those things you wish you could change about yourself? Then, next to each one, jot down why you want to change that thing. Consider if they are actually problems that need to be changed or just things that make you different. Try to pay attention to the things that YOU actually want to change versus the things that other people/society have made you feel you need to change. Really…..get a notepad and make a list. This blog post will still be here when you finish, I promise. 🙂

Ok, now I want you to imagine a friend made this list and write a letter of encouragement to her. I know that sounds dorky, but I promise it will be worth it. Write your letter. Fold it up and seal it in a stamped and self addressed envelope. Give it to a friend and ask them to mail it sometime next year. Tell them you want to be surprised, so they shouldn’t tell you when they mail it. My hope is you’ll receive it right when you need that bit of encouragement.

I know it’s hard and feels a little funny to write a letter to yourself, so I’ll be brave for both of us and share mine with you.

Jamila,

You are beautiful just the way you are. I know you’ve never felt like you quite fit in, but that’s how God designed things. He allowed you to feel that discomfort in order to show you how special you are and to help you value differences in others. He knew before you were born that He wanted you to be able to communicate with people of various life experiences and different ethnicities. It was hard for you as a child and young adult, but those experiences have positioned you to be able to relate to people in a unique way. And I know you’ve longed to be skinnier, because you think that will make you attractive. You do need to eat healthier, so how about you cut back on the french fries? 🙂 But you do not need to loose weight just for the sake of fitting into a standard of beauty that isn’t real. Be healthy, exercise and try to eat in moderation, but you are not overweight, so stop telling yourself that! You are loved by God, your husband, your family and your friends, so stop beating yourself up about stuff that doesn’t matter and enjoy being your own kind of beautiful.

Jamila Jackson is the owner of loved+blessed, a Christian subscription box service for women based in Los Angeles, CA.  To find out more about loved+blessed please go to: http://www.lovedandblessed.com
To find out more about photographer Christopher Malcom: http://www.christophermalcolmphotography.com/right-now

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