How I Let Go of a Label

(Photo by Selma Komisky)

How I Let Go of a Label

By Sarah Komisky

Anyone who knows me knows I’m quite quirky and I have an old soul, so, one of my favorite things is classic films. On the top of my list is a 50’s iconic movie called, “Funny Face.” In this film, Audrey Hepburn plays a spirited bookstore employee who meets a fashion photographer played by Fred Astaire. Seeing her potential, he notes her character, intelligence, and beauty, believing she can become a successful model despite her doubts about her so-called “funny face.”

This film is one of my favorites for many reasons, but one that stands out most is the message of unconditional love that helps me remember who my God is. The movie also has parallels to my life. Interrupting my ordinary world were various offers to model as a child and teen (only these opportunities were declined, first by my parents, then myself). I too struggled with great insecurities feeling like I was never enough. From childhood to adulthood, I would have many voices speak into my life when the focus and praise was centered on my looks rather than my personhood.

Being given this label early on brought great pressures to be perfect, forming a new identity in my appearance and an inward resentment to be recognized as more. Like Hepburn’s character, I too was changed by a man’s words but, it was the man of Jesus Christ that changed me. But it took time.

Looking back, it was first at fourteen when I began to get male attention and walk down a path of letting guys define my worth. They were usually good looking and it was their attention that began to add to my value in my own brokenness. But letting their words define me proved to be dangerous because it only heightened my perfectionism and insecurities. I often compared myself to others feeling inadequate and labeled my 115 pound frame as “fat.” Since the focus and attraction was my looks, I never went a day without my hair, makeup, and clothes being just right. I freaked out about minor flaws like blemishes believing they would taint who I was. Simultaneously, my beauty routine became exhausting!

As beauty became my identity, I began to lose who Sarah really was underneath my exterior. While some of you wish that football player, the ASB president, or guy in the garage band would ask you out, I’ve been there and I can say it isn’t everything. In fact, beautiful people are often quite shallow. I was mistaken in thinking the attention of these guys could add to my value and I always felt underappreciated when they never took the time to truly know me for who I was.

The book of Proverbs says that outward beauty fades but it is true beauty that comes from a girl who loves God that should be held in high esteem (Proverbs 31:30). While I wrestled with maintaining the beauty I felt was who I was, I had to learn that true beauty is really who Christ says I am. It’s exemplifying His character traits like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control that only come from Him (Galatians 5:22-23). Over the past several years since surrendering my life to Jesus, I’ve been able to let Christ unravel this old label in exchange of a new one rooted in my identity in Jesus Christ.  

While I used to feel used, objectified, and afraid, I would never be truly loved and accepted as the real me on days when I opt to be in sweats, a baseball cap, and no makeup. I now feel free to be myself. In my past, I picked poor relationships with guys who didn’t cherish me because I didn’t know my value. For all of you struggling in this area, know that no guy should define your worth. Their affirmation is an unsteady compass. Instead hold onto the anchor of the truth of God’s words to you.

Instead of wasting energy and resources cultivating outward beauty, take time cultivating beauty that is truly timeless found in the inward recesses of your character. Encourage a friend, spend quality time with your grandma, do an act of kindness for someone who needs it, host a dinner at your house, etc. These are the things that are truly radiant. As for guys, know the right one will be appreciate you not only for what you look like, but more importantly, for who you are!

When it comes to compliments, I’ve adopted what missionary Amy Carmichael did when someone would admire something beautiful about her. For each compliment received, Amy would give back an intentional thank you to God. I love that! Not only it is a great way to give God the glory for the beauty people see in us but it also keeps us humble. A “tebowing” of the heart so to speak. On the flip side, when giving a compliment, I’ve sought to see beyond appearances. While it’s nice to hear a compliment that you look nice or pretty, I believe beauty is more than skin deep. Know that you are more than a person with sick style or cute shoes. You are an amazing human being! So I’ve purposed to call out who a person really is on the inside. I’ve discovered these compliments to be the ones that have impacted my life the most and are the type of compliments I desire to give to others.

Today, like Audrey Hepburn’s character, I am being transformed into a new person who is increasingly abandoning my insecurities and refusing to label any part of me as “funny.” Jesus has won my heart with His love and has caused me to bloom. Although I can still battle insecurity, I no longer waffle between extremes based on people’s opinions, the world’s opinions, or even my own opinions! Jesus has broken the measuring tape and I am who He says I am! His masterpiece. His daughter. His beloved.

Ephesians 3:18-19 talks about how high, how wide, and how deep God’s love is for us with the power to make us complete. Jesus’ love has done this for me and I pray it will for you! May you know you’re incredibly unique, insanely valued, infinitely loved, and truly beautiful (even on sweats, baseball caps, and no makeup days)! Be free to be yourself with your own unique style by getting comfortable in your own skin. There is no one else like you! So own it. Believe it. Shine it because you, my friend, are truly beautiful.