I was asked at 12 years old, why my body didn’t resemble those of other girls my age. That was the beginning of the slow fracturing of my self-image. And over the next two decades, I lived in the shadow of this mental picture I had of feminine perfection – one I came to call the “Other Woman”.
In 2019, the year I turned 30, Kallos featured me on their cover as one of the founding members of the faith-based publication Thir.st. Any excitement I felt came to a sharp end, however, the day I saw the chosen photo from our shoot. And the thought of thousands of girls seeing me and my body, uglier than I had ever expected it to look, crushed me.
Soon after the issue was released, a friend of a friend asked me out for dinner. Her name was See Ting, or Seets for short. I only knew her then as the girl with alopecia, which had caused her to lose most of her hair by her early twenties. After the meal, having heard her heart for young women who struggled with their self-worth as she did, I connected her with Kallos.
Seets went on to be the next Kallos cover story. But just as the issue was headed to print, she discovered that she had an aggressive form of breast cancer at only 26 years old. This time, I reached out. We sat together on her bedroom floor, with the wig she usually wore left aside. She shared, in jest, that she didn’t have to fear losing her hair to chemotherapy because she had been bald for so long, and that she trusted God with her life.
This grace-filled confidence that Seets walked in was what the Lord used to change me profoundly throughout our brief but deep friendship. With that grace, she confronted my dislike for my body, the way she had been confronted all those years ago with alopecia. She declared her love for everything I was, even if I couldn’t. When I suddenly developed Bell’s palsy and wrestled with having half my face frozen in paralysis, she sat with me and prayed over me as I came to a new place of surrender of my own beauty and self-worth to God.
For so long, women have been pitted against each other, compared and ranked until competition becomes second nature. In the Bible, there is Rachel and Leah, and Mary and Martha. And then there is me and all the other girls I failed to look like. But through Seets, I found my self-worth not eclipsed by this Other Woman, but empowered by her love for me. My beauty was not devalued but redeemed by her beauty — her kindness, her wisdom, her strength and dignity. The beauty described in Proverbs 31:25-26 that culminates in the fear of the Lord being the most praiseworthy of all (v30).
It’s easy to read about the “excellent wife” described in Proverb 31:10–31 and see her as just another woman who’s got it all, instead of a personified combination of all the qualities that a wise person of God would have. She is not here to shackle us further but free us from the lies and empty pursuits keeping us sisters in chains. From starving ourselves or emptying our pockets for fashion (v25). From trying to outdo each other with how charming or beautiful we can be (v30).
Up until her passing in February 2021, Seets never used her wig again. Instead, she wore her lack of hair like a crown, calling forth a generation of women to do so with their own perceived lacking. She did not resemble other girls our age, but she looked and loved so much like Jesus to me.
Dear Heavenly Father, You know the pain and insecurities about myself that I’ve carried in my heart through the years. Show me how You see each of us, that I may love myself and others the way You do. I desire beauty the way You define it. Amen.
1. How do you see yourself in light of other girls? What are things you believe about yourself that may not align with how God sees you?
2. Have a conversation with the Lord. What is He saying to you? What does He want to heal and redeem for you? Who could He be bringing alongside to journey with you?
KNOW THE WORD
Allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate His truths on godly friendship in these passages:
– Ruth 1:16-18
– Luke 1:39-45
– Ecclesiastes 4:9-11
Check out Seets’s Kallos story here.
And my own paraphrase of Proverb 31 here.