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Frances Okoro: Imperfectly Perfect

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It has been almost 10 years since that fateful day but I can still see the scene vividly in my head whenever I want to…

Me lying on my bunk bed, cowering under the imaginary weight of their eyes. Their voices screaming out in my head through the haze of my sadness and tears; “see her half past eyes, big lips, ugly girl”…

That wasn’t the first time I had heard such words from the lips of people, and that incident wasn’t the last either.

When I was 9 years old, I inadvertently eavesdropped on a gossip session of my neighbors who, not knowing that I was within earshot came to a general consensus that I was the ugliest in my family. And it didn’t stop there; I also attended a boarding secondary school where the consensus reached above was reiterated time and time again. Everyone seemed to think that I wasn’t   pretty, I was ugly, and ultimately, what they thought about me became my thoughts about myself.

As a result of my experiences, I honestly believed that I was ugly and it wasn’t till I was in the university that I dared to believe that I was pretty.

I became fascinated with the word “beauty”. There were times when I would lay on my bed, stare at the ceiling and ponder on what people meant when they said a woman was beautiful and another was ugly.

I thought a lot about this thing called “beauty.”

Who/what determines if one is beautiful/not?

By what yardstick is beauty measured?

I know now the answers to these questions.

I know now that I am beautiful and that beauty is very different from what my neighbors and class mates thought it to be.

I even know enough about beauty to be able recognize it in others. In fact, I saw beauty on 23rd November 2013. She was helped up the stage and I did not know the significance of this till she told us that she had had a hip-replacement 6weeks before and thus had to be assisted till she was strong enough to walk without support. My attention was captured at that and as I listened, her story was one that blew me away.

She had been told right from when she was 4 years old that she was ugly, and thus had pretty low self- esteem about herself. And as if that wasn’t enough, life threw her balls that made it seem like the people who called her ugly were right.

She had an accident that left her with 250 scars on her face and an almost amputated leg; she lost her hair in a battle with cancer, she had had surgery to have fibroid removed from her stomach but there she was, still standing right there at 50 years of age, having gone through situations the world would say could render your beauty to naught.

But as she stood there on the podium, it dawned on me that with all her supposed scars from life’s battles and her choosing to go without weaves on her head, Eryca Freemantle is one of the most beautiful women I have had the privilege of meeting.

I didn’t come to this conclusion because of the perfect makeup on her face, (although she is a celebrity makeup artist known worldwide), I also didn’t base my conclusions on the fact that she has a pretty face. It wasn’t because she has a great fashion sense and also has a great body to boot even at 50years of age…

My conclusions were based on the fact that beauty radiated from deep within her.

I spoke with Eryca Freemantle after the event and I was amazed at her humility.

Here was someone who has been around the world, who has been a keynote speaker at events I have never even dreamed of attending, who maintains contacts with presidents and dignitaries alike but she was also exchanging pleasantries with me, willing to hear what I had to say and was equally very willing to help a lady she just met achieve her dreams.

She possessed so much humility and kindness of spirit, one which only truly beautiful women have.

I moved a bit farther into the twenties on my birthday on September 6th and if there is anything I have learnt in the 10 years since the incident on my bunk bed, it is the fact that my classmates and neighbors were dead wrong about what beauty is. As a matter of fact, they had absolutely no idea about what true beauty is.

True beauty is purity of the soul.

Beautiful women are not just pretty, they radiate from the inside out.

They possess a light that shines so brightly from within them, so much so that you cannot help but be drawn into it.

They may not necessarily be pretty according to the world’s standard, but they are beautiful in the standard that truly matters.

They glow from within, they touch lives for good where ever they are, and they possess inner attributes that stand out.

I saw beauty on 23rd November 2013, and it wasn’t residing in the physical features of a person or in the perfect makeup on anyone’s face, neither was it in the sexy coke shaped body of any lady like the world believes it does.

I saw it in the heart, in the incorruptible attribute of a wonderful soul, in the dwellings of a kind heart, in the person of a kind word and in a helpful spirit.

I have come a long way from the days of “ugly girl” ringing in my head and I now know from the depths of my heart that I am a beautiful lady. I don’t refer to my physical attributes when I say this (though, in all honesty, my physical attributes does turn heads) but I refer to the me in me, to the attributes I know I possess inside.

I refer to the beauty of my heart.

It has taken me years to come to the point where I can turn to anyone who asks me about my eyes with sincere smiles on my face, and explain to them without any ill feeling within me, that the reason why I look at them but it seems like I am looking elsewhere is because I have crossed eyes.

I have come a long way from the child that thought she was ugly.

I have come a long way from aligning my thoughts with those who believe that beauty lies only in the physical features of a person.

I have realized like Eryca Freemantle says- that “Every woman is beautiful, regardless of age, size or colour”

I have realized that the “half past eyes” they all mocked in the past is something I wouldn’t change for anything right now. They are my trademark, my greatest assets. They make me stand out, and the God who created me actually called me His perfect workmanship even with “the half-past eyes”.

I maybe imperfect in the eyes of the world but I am perfect in the eyes of the one who created me.

I am imperfectly perfect.

And all women should come to this knowledge too.

Our outer features have been made by God and called perfect; He looked at us and called us good.

We have been intricately crafted; no stone was left unturned by our creator before He released us into the world.

We may not be perfect or pretty in the eyes of the world, but we are beautiful in the eyes of the one who matters – in the eyes of God.

So by all means, revel in your k-leg, bow legs, short hands, funny nose… it is yours, it is you.

Work it, flaunt it, and embrace it.

Be you.

Be unique.

Stand out with whatever physical features you have.

But also know this fact without any iota of doubt; beauty does not start and end with physical features.

True beauty does not arise from merely being pretty.

True beauty can only be found on the inside.

We are only truly beautiful where it counts most- in our hearts… And that is what we should preserve, nurture and value.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Sam74100

Hephzibah Frances is a child of God and a delight to her Father's heart. She is a Lawyer, author and social entrepreneur called to the nations.She is the founder of The Women At The Well a Christian women ministry based in Lagos.andAwakening Youthful Seeds For Christ Initiative a Non-Governmental Organisation focused on raising purposeful youths.She is currently the author of four books including the best-selling book PRAYERS FOR YOUR FUTURE HUSBAND. Get all her books here here And get her latest fiction book - "ENIOLA" for abused womenhereWanna know what to do while you are single? Join the "21 DAYS PRAYERS FOR YOUR FUTURE HUSBAND PRAISE AND PRAYER CHALLENGE GOING ON RIGHT NOW! "here Join up the challenge on her Instagram channel @HephzibahFrancesEmail her at [email protected] in touch with her: On Facebook: HephzibahFrancesOn twitter @Hephzibahfran/On instagram @hephzibahfrancesWatch her videos on her Youtube Channel at - FrancesOkoroVisit her website at www.hephzibahfrances.com

36 Comments

  1. bb

    September 19, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Very beautiful piece I must say. You touched me. God bless you.

    • Chic

      September 21, 2014 at 10:27 am

      I was touched by this too. Beautiful piece

  2. Nelly

    September 19, 2014 at 8:15 am

    Awesome piece dear,… It has ended in praise!

  3. Modupe

    September 19, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Pls try and use the correct description for this eye condition. It is called a ‘squint’ not ‘cross eyed’ . My 5yr old has a minor squint and I don’t want a generation that still calls her crossed eye. Squints are now treatable with eye patching, exercise and even minor surgeries. There are different degrees of a squint and if picked up early, it is treatable. I noticed my daughter’s at 9mths old. We started seeing an opthamologist straight away. A number of eye exercises to make the squinted eye muscle stronger and obey the brain. At 13mths she was on glasses that helped to align the squinted eye. She is 5 now and noone knows she has a squint . Having her wear glasses from 13mths was a challenge for us as parents and the stared we got from adults. We are over that now. I am hoping that when she is an adult she will opt for surgery to tighten the weak muscle in the eye. Till then, she will continue to wear glasses or contact lenses.

    Also, squints are usually hereditary. We discovered my husband has a minor squint even though it is not noticeable and infact extremely hard to tell if you did not know what you are looking for.

    Squints can also correct themselves as a child grows older. I have seen examples too.

    • Frances Okoro

      September 19, 2014 at 2:48 pm

      Thanks for the info Modupe…I am very glad that your daughter’s eyes were corrected and she won’t have to go through the name calling. That’s great!

    • Frances Okoro

      September 19, 2014 at 8:43 pm

      And I forgot to mention this when I commented before..you mentioned that you would love for your daughter to opt for surgery to strengthen the weak muscle when she is older. You may want to read up, research on that too. Surgery isn’t really the answer. The way it is explained, the whole thing has to do with how the eyes interprete messages from the brain, so surgery isn’t really the permanent answer to it.
      Patching one eye is a very good suggestion for its treatment though.
      I have a doctor friend who talked about surgery previously, that’s how I know.

      Plus I would have shared the link for the above here but I didn’t save it.
      I read up on it in my course of doing research on my own eyes,. Just thought to add that.

      And yes, crossed eyes isn’t a really nice name for this, I call mine squint too but technically, it does fall into the crossed eyes thingy..mine does anyway, maybe not your daughter’s.

      Again, thanks for the info

  4. TANTRA

    September 19, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Lovely article. True beauty radiates from the inside to the outside. But if you are not physically attractive, you need to distinguish yourself intellectually or skillfully. Igbo people say, “igaghi abu ogbenye buru kwa amusu” – you can’t be a poor person and also be a witch. The same Igbo people say ,”beautiful or not beautiful, there is no discount in brideprice”. If your face can’t open doors, your talents should.

    • Tee

      September 19, 2014 at 9:47 am

      So how would you define ‘physically attractive’? By what is popularly accepted? Personal preferences? That part of your comment leaves me wondering.

  5. ChelizRuby.

    September 19, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Word! True beauty shines from the inside.
    theshapecube.blogspot.com

  6. Le moi

    September 19, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Just this morning i realize we all mean something… #WeAreBeautiful

  7. Loulou

    September 19, 2014 at 9:34 am

    You couldn’t have said it better, people will still insult you if you are fine not to talk of if you are not! Its the way of the world and like a DP my friend used on her bb dis morning, God had a purpose for you before anyone had an opinion #enufsaid

  8. beautiful

    September 19, 2014 at 10:01 am

    beauty comes from within. God has beautifully and wonderfully made us. that is what counts not what a mortal like us says.
    thank you frances okoro.

  9. ice

    September 19, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Well written, well thought, good conclusion

  10. Uche

    September 19, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Word!!!

  11. busi

    September 19, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Interestingly, those features that we think are odd are the ones that make us stand out. The mole on the face, the squint, the not so pointed nose, the slightly protruding forehead etc. Without it, you’ll be just like any other person. My friend told me today that she wants to grow her eyebrows naturally rather than drawing some NIKE – ish and looking like every other babe on the street, I was much impressed.
    Please celebrate your little quirks, that’s what makes you, YOU!

  12. chee

    September 19, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    I love reading your works frances!well said!

  13. Theresa Doghor

    September 19, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    You are beautiful!

  14. THAT CHICK

    September 19, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    i am imperfectly perfect…..

  15. CITYFIRM

    September 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    THX FOR DAT WORLD OF MANTURE ,IT’S FOR DOSE WH TRUELY KNW THEY ‘RE BEAUTIFUL. A WORDS OF BEAUTY FROM A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN.

  16. Martha

    September 19, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    lovely write up Frances….Thank u. Honestly God couldn’t ve made all of us look the same if he had then how else would we ve got to know his an amazing creator….because his unique thats why we r all different but all made in his image that is perfect..#Fearfully and Wonderfully made#HisperfectImage

  17. 1 + The One

    September 19, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Very powerful article. and very deep too.
    We must know and believe that we are individually beautiful. I loved your description of beauty – shining through from within..
    Thank you Frances

  18. AVID BLOG READER

    September 19, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    As far as I am concerned beauty is in character. Nice piece.

  19. Dr. N

    September 19, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    Please send me d names of all those who said such things about u? They deserve to “squat and fly their arms”. Imagine! My own Frances! Mtchewww!
    Very deep and hearty. I also appreciated Modupe’s view.
    We are who we believe we are and it is up to us to tell the world how to treat us. This I believe.
    Love u dear.

    • Frances Okoro

      September 19, 2014 at 8:29 pm

      Haha Dr N…some are married now oh, their husband’s will come after you.lol.
      And what Modupe said is the truth, I have read up on all that and more before, it is treatable and all and it was kind of her to share.

  20. x-factor

    September 19, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Profound!

  21. enajyte

    September 20, 2014 at 7:08 am

    I can relate to this. Thank God for a mum who taught me early that what people call ‘beauty’ is just physical and a person should be more than a pretty face.

    Because I see me as beautiful, I don’t bother what others see. I am a perfect me. Haters can go swim in baked beans. Lol

    You’re amazing Rukky. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Jewel

    September 20, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Work it,flaunt it and embrace it.Great Piece
    Thanks 4 sharing,

  23. glowingscenes

    September 21, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    People tend to say words that hurt, not caring how those words can go as far as marring some people for life. Hence my belief in “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” It’s really challenging and I’m glad you were able to overcome it all by God’s grace. What lies in you is actually greater than all that’s out there or what people say. People just talk, and they will keep talking till kingdom comes sef but boo to them and congrats to you. Why? You’ve dusted it all of inclusive of their negativity and you’re a victor! Who needs people like that in your life anyway. Shine on dear Frances! Much love .xo!

  24. Nichia L.

    October 7, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    I love this. Thank you so much, for sharing this.
    I agree with you. Your writing has so much, truth. I wish I could show you and explain how beautiful this is, your piece of writing; your writing.
    You have such a talent and greatness in you; you are a wonderful writer and person. You are beautiful.
    Thank you so much, again. God bless you. ^_^

  25. Adeola

    October 10, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Very inspiring piece… I am really very proud of your thought pattern.

  26. Irene O.

    November 11, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Great piece. Thought provoking, insightful and inspiring. These words held my attention:
    “Beautiful women are not just pretty, they radiate from the inside out.
    They possess a light that shines so brightly from within them, so much so that you cannot help but be drawn into it….They glow from within, they touch lives for good where ever they are, and they possess inner attributes that stand out.”

    This is what true beauty is about–radiating the glory of God and touching lives for good. Well done. Continue to celebrate your uniqueness.

  27. David Adeleke

    November 12, 2014 at 6:55 am

    Wonderful story telling. And a great lesson to go with it. I too, used to suffer from low self-esteem mainly because I let people’s negative thoughts about me define who I was. However, thank God that has changed now and I understand that real self-worth is from within and not without. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  28. Tope Banks

    November 18, 2014 at 2:38 am

    Thanks for sharing Frances. Being beautiful is way beyond having good looks,we all must accept ourselves while on our journey to perfection.

  29. esteem

    February 28, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    ur posts always stir up something good in me. God bless you, Frances.

  30. oghenero

    May 25, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    Powerful!

  31. Ejiro

    September 20, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Keep up the good work and GOD BLESS YOU RICHLY!

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