How do you feel about the way you look?
Editorial from September 2020
As a child, I used to play with a pair of tights on my head so I would have the swingy hair that my non-black friends had. I favoured that above the stillness of my natural curly afro hair, which seemed so much less beautiful.
In the church I grew up in, women were banned from wearing red lipstick and/or nail varnish because “only promiscuous women wear red”. I rebelled, of course, and started wearing both as soon as I left! But these are two memories that stand out for me when I think about my own perception of image, beauty and worthiness.
Perhaps for many Christians it can be tempting to talk about how it’s what’s inside that really matters, but with visual content fast overtaking traditional media viewed online, we can’t ignore conversations on appearance. A recent Instagram post by the women’s media platform Refinery29 suggested that we spend more time looking at ourselves during virtual meetings than the people talking. And how true that is! On page 14, one reader says the widespread use of Zoom during lockdown has heightened feelings of insecurity about the way she looks, and this may be true for many of us.
For this issue, we spoke with readers and contributors about their feelings on this topic. Some commented on how conversations on image among Christians are usually shut down with the phrase: “we are all beautiful daughters of God" – a seemingly empowering statement that, unfortunately, lends itself to the silencing of any feelings of unworthiness; perhaps without taking time to examining their cause.
While the fact that our image is ultimately found in God is true and important to remember, maybe we do need to consider the world today and how we can support our children, grandchildren and the young people around us with perceptions of beauty. And as some, if not all of us may have grown up with damaging views of our own, the change starts with us.
Our lead profile (p10) this issue is Alex Agboke. She talks about how our inner perception about our appearance can affect our sense of identity. Alex believes that having clothes that reflect who we are inside empowers us to live to our full potential, whether that is by providing the confidence to speak up in public, getting the job we want or simply allowing ourselves to be loved.
This picture of me was taken as part of a photo shoot when I had shaved off all my hair. I did it because my hair had been falling out from stress, rather than it being a fashion statement. I felt distinctly ‘unpretty’ without my ‘crown’, but my new look was a hit as a model and that slowly helped me get my confidence back. In a weird way, it felt like God was showing my younger self that what I had on my head was not at all an indication of my beauty and, although my hair has grown back now, I’m eternally grateful for that lesson.
Tola-Doll Fisher, Editor
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