Loving the Skin You're In by Lauren Scruggs Kennedy
I have always been an all-natural kind of girl, with palm trees, ocean waves, and sandy toes on my mind. I feel more myself with little to no makeup, a blow out or beach waves that look effortless, and high-waisted Levis for that all-American, undone look. Like most girls, I cared about what I looked like growing up, but I didn’t spend too much time getting ready or analyzing my appearance. I truly believe my parents’ love and encouragement was a vessel in protecting me from low self value, and believing that I was a daughter of Jesus aided in focusing on developing lasting memories and friendships, rather than becoming consumed with the physical. Yet, I was very challenged on this mindset and perspective when my life took an unexpected turn.
My calendar paused, my career path changed, and my platform increased after a night of injury in 2011. I was sucked into a plane propeller; the blade cut into my brain and the left side of my body, resulting in the loss of my left eye, left hand, and half my head of hair post brain surgery. In retrospect, I clearly see how I easily submerged in destructive comparison after this life-altering experience. I felt depleted of beauty, but my foundation remained the same. My mom and dad’s love and encouragement became stronger. My faith and trust in believing Jesus loved me grew substantially. Somehow my perspective of beauty shifted, though, and I believe one of the gifts of this tragedy was revealing to me the meaningless things that I apparently held so dear. What “bothered” me most about the outcome of this accident revealed what I held as very valuable. Did I let outward beauty define me? Yes. Did I cherish attention more than I realized? Definitely. I truly had to sit back and be still. I had to reassess my foundation. I had to refocus on what was important. I quickly came to realize that comparison is equivalent to worry; it only severely hinders and limits fruition. Plus, if we really think about it, wouldn’t life be boring if we were all the same?
"Physical beauty fades; attention is temporary and unfulfilling."
The Lord has brought such healing these last five years. He has restored in me a new kind of inner confidence that is rooted in where my identity truly stands, and I have realized the following to be true: physical beauty fades; attention is temporary and unfulfilling. Yes, my insecurities are a daily struggle. I often catch myself comparing not only to other people but to my “old” self. Grief is intertwined in it all as I miss my hand and my eye daily, but a lot of the hesitation in loving the skin I am in comes from wanting to hide what has changed. I have learned to be open about this struggle to my sweet husband, family, and friends, and I am slowly realizing that freedom comes from vulnerability . I am also seeing that beauty truly is in accepting the scars, in character, in the humility of freely being you, and in loving others well. I am learning to fully accept and value the path the Lord has put in front of me, and I am learning to view that path as beautiful.