UNASHAMED Series: “Presenting, Unfading Beauty” by Steph Bennett

Now this, ladies and gentlemen, is THE Steph Bennett. Have to big her up man. Have to big her up.

(can we also admire the quite literal glistening of her eyes in this photo? And her smile?!)

There are many times that I’ve wondered what’s going on in her head after realizing – via her Facebook posts – that she definitely has a lot of wise and brutally honest opinions about a lot of things. I admire this about her – and her musical ability to sing and write. Lord, ya’ll need to read one of her blog posts. I’ll link her social handles at the end of this blog for you. Any-who, let’s get to know Steph. Shall we?

JUST A BIT ABOUT STEPH

Anything you want to say about yourself that you’d like them to know? 

A Christian, a music/choir/band-geek, a lover of Japanese and Korean culture, a Jamaican who currently dwells in Cayman, a knowledge hoarder, a marketing-ish-admin-ish-graphics & web-professional, a Sunday school teacher, a Praise and Worship Team member – all wrapped up in one not-so-neat package. 😉

What’s one insecurity that you’ve struggled with for quite some time?

I’ve never really had good skin. As a kid I had Hay Fever and Eczema which gave me lots of rashes on my legs; and when that cleared up, acne kicked in lol! I was pretty confident with it throughout high school, but for about 8 years, however (college and after), it was different and I didn’t show my arms at all, until about a year ago.

What’s one random/funny fact about you?

I’m not scared of lizards; in fact, I think some of them are cute. However, I have to be the lizard-killer at home because my mom won’t stay in the house if she knows it’s there.

What’s one moment you felt affirmed in your God-given identity or beauty?

January 2016, I remembered how comfortable I was in high school; with my obvious individuality, my faith and even my bad skin LOL! That one thought was enough to help me regain boldness and that same January I wore my first sleeveless outfit, without cardigan or hoodie, in 8 years, and I was ok with it. God reminded me that there are other more important things to focus on…no time to feel insecure about mere skin; unnecessary burden.

Is there anyway my readers can pray for your journey? Let ’em know… 

Pray for my focus to remain on God and what He wants me to be. I do not want to be distracted, or slide into a personality shaped my life’s hardships (or pleasures) instead of His Word.

So recently, I worked on a project where several people I know had to send me video clips of themselves. The style of the project originally to be “amateurish, shaky-video, selfie style” so that it would reflect a candid, lighthearted, and maybe even comedic feel…Barely any of the video clips came in like that, LOL! Almost every clip I got was refined, steady, landscaped, controlled and staged, with the person well put together/made up and so forth; even when they knew the vision we were going for, they could not help themselves from putting forth “their most presentable selves”. I know, I know; this isn’t a bad thing and we should always be ready to present our best before the world, blah, blah, blah. I also know that the people I referred to in the project are (probably) not vain narcissists – but listen to where I’m coming from.

There is a fine line between trying to be presentable out of respect for everyone and value for yourself, and being ABSOLUTELY INCAPABLE or afraid even, of presenting anything less than ‘perfect’ at any given time, to the people around you. I catch wind of the latter, ever so often on a daily basis. More and more, people -in real life or online, feel like they need to present a facade of having faces made and suits on, even when caught off guard…but that’s not what it means to be caught off guard! No one’s buying that you are perfectly styled up in an off moment at home at 2 in the morning when you’re heading to bed. This is not a Hallmark movie.

Which brings me to the point of this post – how much importance do we place on the public’s perception of our aesthetic? Are we afraid of being thought of as less of a lady (or less of a man, because this goes for anybody, really) if we are not manic over maintaining the world’s standard of appearance? At the end of the day, is it actually that important? It probably isn’t.

Trying to make a good impression and especially for us Christians, ensuring we don’t destroy the witness of Christ in any way, that’s one thing. Being obsessed (because if no one is allowed to see you unless you look a certain way, yes honey, you are obsessed) with how we LOOK in the name of style/beauty so that others think we are attractive, that’s an entirely different thing. For too long, people (particularly women) have allowed the society to tell us what beauty is, and it has left those of us who don’t fall into that strategic category naturally, stretching/cutting/clipping/running/colouring/painting/scraping/squeezing/all of the above…for what? Merely to have the world think that we are attractive? Nope, not worth it. Especially when you think of the fact that we probably do not spend half as much time preparing another aspect of ourselves that is also seen by people (if they spend enough time around you); our behaviour

Now I know this isn’t the case for everyone, but for a significant percentage of us, do we care about, say, being known as helpful as much as we care about our brows being symmetrical? Do we ensure people feel uplifted instead of downtrodden in our presence, the way that we ensure that our foundation doesn’t cake? Do we put effort into understanding difficult people the way we put effort into keeping our sneakers white? And do we, do we really, spend as much time researching or even thinking about ways to control our temper and time management tips as we do looking up hair tutorials and outfit ideas? Feel free to answer that question honestly.

On the other hand, those of us who are definitely not up to investing, or not able to invest all that time and effort into beauty, how do we view ourselves? Do we see ourselves as less because we don’t do what everyone else appears to be doing? We might pride ourselves in other aspects of ourselves which is awesome, but we inwardly regard it as a substitute – for example, making sure I’m super smart because I’m not pretty like other girls, or making sure I’m really kind or really funny so that people can like me, because I’m not fashionable enough to be considered cool. Developing inward traits is a wonderful thing but it should never be done from a place of low esteem, which is based on society’s view of beauty.

I believe it’s helpful to remember that beauty, the traditional definition, is: a) not as important as others make it out to be and b) does not last forever. 1 Peter 3:4 states that true, unfading beauty, comes from within. Slowly but surely, society seems to be realizing this, but they still haven’t gotten it completely right. Now more than ever, the world and media are emphasizing acceptance of who you are and how you look, which is a refreshingly positive idea. However; it’s not ONLY about amazing confidence and self acceptance which does comes from within, but additionally, it’s about developing traits that seem to be a lost art form in 2017; humility, gentleness, willingness to listen instead of just talk, wisdom- not just knowledge, patience (my goodness, PATIENCE), true love for people which lets you help them in ways no one else can…these traits REVOLUTIONIZE BEAUTY! Someone who has these traits more often than not, tends to be praised by those around them in a way that the not even the most beat of faces can earn.

God knows He created us in our natural beauty which I believe He expects us to acknowledge in the first place. He knows as we get older, our current aesthetic will change, so He doesn’t expect everyone to make too big a deal of it. In fact, God Himself, has high regard for that inward beauty, because He knows it is of the everlasting type and not the temporary. I fear though, that this fact is being buried by the increasing obsession of “looking right”.

As for me? I’m confident in how I look,” perfect” or not; I embrace the Biblical view of inner beauty being true beauty. I refuse to become obsessed with my outward appearance and I refuse to freak out at the idea of being seen in an ‘un-stylized’ state; it makes life so much easier! Plus, it makes an actual impact on those around you, if the inward is what is intentionally being made presentable. The only real impact “looking good” has on those around you, is…well…it’s not a great enough impact. But that’s my opinion, I guess it’s left up to you to do with it [my opinion] as you will.


Want to read more from Steph? Follow her blog!
https://momentmusic.wordpress.com/

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Reblogged this on MomentMusic and commented:
    A post I contributed to My good friend, Miriam’s “Unashamed Series” for HER blog, over at https://faithreserved.wordpress.com

    Like

  2. Michelle Bryan says:

    I’ve struggled with skin issues since I was 14. I’m 27 now and it has called down a lot but the process and price it took to get there… I’ve been to lots of dermatologists and experienced different treatments. It’s been a long time coming for me and I still feel uncomfortable showing my back and the scars. Praying for that acceptance you have experienced in showing your arms again.
    You’re so right! We need to work more on the inner beauty and stop being so preoccupied with the outer. When I was in University a woman who discipled me and invited me to church was so plain in her outer appearance. She didn’t dye her hair, she wore no makeup, no jewelry and just tee shirts and the same blue jeans. But she was SO BEAUTIFUL inside. She invited me to on campus Christian events and didn’t judge me when I showed up in my batty ridahs lol. She lovingly accepted me. She answered all my silly questions about Jesus and even my hard questions that gave me doubts. She walked with me through my embracing sin for a long time before fully throwing it off and pursuing Jesus. I say all that to say she loved so deeply and she accepted me as Paul instructs us to do; “accept one another as Christ has accepted you” (Romans 15:7). Knowing that our inner beauty gets MORE beautiful with time and our outer beauty fades away with time is all the more reason to pray and work on our inner beauty. This article needs to be heard and heeded. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad something from the article resonated with you~ Yeah, I did the whole dermatologist deal, aloe vera rubs, proactiv…you name it. Some stuff worked better than others, but in the end…I stopped using most things and just decided either I’ma live with it, or it’s gonna work itself out LOL! My skin is DEFINITELY not perfect, but it’s miles better than it was some years back. God definitely helped me get back to that place of being ok with myself and not sweating the small stuff. He’s more than able and willing to boost you in any area you need boosting!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Miss Mascal. says:

      You guys are AWESOME! Yeah, until I realized outer beauty was literally dying away I became less focused on it and more on what God says about me and what He wants me to be. I also remember be ashamed of myself alot. Now I embrace and love my stretch marks, my chubby tummy, and what not. While there ARE areas I need to embrace instead of always resorting to wanting to change something Ive leaned into the fact that God just wants me to embrace what I have. In a culture that is disconted with theur bodies why should we not choose to be any different? Negativity won’t steal my day or good vibes any longer.

      Liked by 1 person

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