Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Beauty to me. Beauty to you.

Several years ago I hated myself.
I was 7 months pregnant with my second daughter and my husband had just left me, for someone else.

A woman can feel ugly when she is cheated on.
A woman can feel ugly when she is massively pregnant.
A woman can feel even worse when both are the case.

I was struggling.
I was young and thought I was happy but suddenly I saw myself in such a different light.
I hated myself.

One Sunday, at church, a man in the pew next to mine kept looking at me.
It bothered me. 
Then I realized he was sketching me!
REALLY bothered me, but also flattered me, it was weird.
I knew this man was a very well known artist.
I had admired his work since I was a child!
After the meeting ended, I wanted to just get out of there, but he was faster and caught me by the elbow.

"Would you be willing to sit and model for me?"

I. Was. Stunned.
"Me??" I thought, I'm huge and plain and no, he must be crazy.

Somehow I stammered out a yes and we agreed on a time and what I should wear.
For the days leading up to the photo shoot (that's how modern painters work these days, better than the model holding still for hours) 
I became even more down on myself and avoided mirrors.
I had let my hair grow long out of pregnant laziness, but always pulled it back in a braid.
 I slathered on make-up every morning thinking that was the only way I looked decent and to cover the prego acne. 
He wanted hair down, no make up.
I really wasn't sure I could leave the house with no make up.

The afternoon arrived.
I took a deep breath and walked the single block to his mini castle (literaly, it looks like a little castle).

We did a ton of poses, some with props and big, shapeless dresses.
I held still, did my best to follow the directions given.
My (ex)mother in law came along and helped encourage me.
The artist and his daughter (also an artist) both planned on using the images that day in their works.
After a couple hours, we were finished.
Thanks were said on both sides and I left feeling a little better about myself, but nervous to see what came of my pictures.

"They won't use any, this was just to be nice, they'll change their minds, this was a joke."
And then.......
I saw the first painting.
Titled: Christine, by James C Christensen 
I cried. A lot.
It was so simple compared to his other works and that is what I love about it.
It was just: me.
Me, lost in my thoughts, with my sadness somehow turned beautiful.
My nose didn't look as big as I thought it was.
My chin not so protruding.
My eyes large and round.
No acne!
He painted me exactly as the photo.
Yet, this is not what I saw when I looked in the mirror.
He saw what I couldn't see.
It forever changed the way I saw myself.    
It never went to print, but was sold from a gallery to a private collector. 
Someone bought a painting of me!

It also appears in one of his books, Men and Angels.
 And then, the second painting was released (also in the book):
   The Bride, by James C. Christensen, and this went to print.
(Pregnant belly hidden by billowy sleeves. lol) 
I share this as I think we women look down to much on ourselves.
We only see the things that need "fixing" or "tucking".
We miss the features that others see!
I was told my neck was so lovely, it had to painted! 
 His daughter's work:
 Works by: Cassandra Christensen Barney 

At the time in my life when I felt ugliest, someone saved me.
We may not all have artists ask us to pose and create great works of art.
But we can tell others they look great.
We can take a compliment and believe it to be true.
We can learn that beauty is not what we are told it is.
Beauty is what we make it to be.  

I love the new video out by Dove.
I'm not being paid to type any of this or share it.
I just know that when I clicked on the video on a friend's Facebook status, 
I was deeply moved and it reminded me of my experience and I felt the urge to share it.  


  1. This is amazing. I too saw that video and I am just moved by how we women view ourselves versus what the world sees. I am stunned to also think about how the women in the commercial for Dove have had their view of themselves changed forever. And after reading your post I know they have had their lives changed.

  2. You are the second friend to blog on this topic, and use the Dove video. I absolutely LOVE this video! Thank you for sharing that really are beautiful, as are all of God's daughters. :)

  3. I have always loved "Christine". It does capture both your sadness and your beauty. I forgot you were preggers w/ Evelyn at the time.

    I hadn't seen the other pictures. They are nice but don't capture you in the same way. I really love "Christine".

  4. Now isn't it funny how we see ourselves, I had to go back on your blog to make sure it was you saying this. When you posted your hair looks, I thought what a beautiful woman you are and all your beautiful children. I'm really glad you now know your beautiful inside and out, full stop:):)...

  5. I really enjoyed reading this and all of the artwork is so cool!