In secondary school, I experienced body shaming. I was overweight and my “friends” considered it a good idea to give me a nickname – Captain Frightfully Delicious. (FD for short.) They taunted me and then some boys joined in too.

I had a gap year after secondary school. (Universities were on strike so I couldn’t be admitted immediately). I dated a guy that year, who made it abundantly clear that I wasn’t good enough for him because of my size. (It was that awkward teenage period when young men and women are cruel). I broke up with him and then lost weight to prove a point. I was angry.

I now believe that everyone should improve themselves for themselves, and not because they are shamed into it. It’s more enduring when you do it for the right reasons. There are also kind ways to encourage people to become better versions of themselves. People know whether you are speaking in love or out of self interest. I have given life advice to others who went on to enjoy beautiful lives. It never occurred to me to try to enjoy the benefits of their transformations.

Moving on…

In University, basking in my newfound makeover, I caught the eye of “that guy” on campus. You know “that guy” – the one many girls drool over and consider unattainable. I was very surprised the day he said hello. I mentally looked around to be sure he was speaking to me. I wasn’t the overtly sexual type; the proverbial “bad girl” on campus. So, I wondered what he wanted. I decided to prove another point; a wrong one. I believed if I could land him then I would have finally proven to myself that I was no longer Captain FD and could have any man I wanted. A year into the relationship, the Holy Spirit caught my attention and asked me to let him go. No one should use another human heart to prove a point.

A few years later, I had a conversation with God about relationships and I heard him clearly say, “Don’t compete on beauty.” I knew God couldn’t be saying, “Don’t look beautiful.” On deeper reflection, I understood what he meant.

Every woman has a competitive advantage; a trait that attracts the right people to them. I was supposed to focus on mine. I needed to learn from my campus relationship; the fact that I attracted one of the most eligible guys without being one of the most eligible women, so to speak. Something in me drew him and I needed to discover and develop that.

I am not completely sure what that trait is – they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But, I have a feeling it has to do with the quality of my heart and the transparency of my soul.

You need to discover what makes you beautiful, beyond your physical assets. You cannot place your trust in genetic lottery alone. What is that thing that people compliment you about and treasure you for? That is your competitive advantage. Use it.

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