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Are you Falling Prey to the Big Bad Checklist?

By: Kristen Clark

I have a confession…and I’ll just be real here. I used to obsess over the fact that I had cellulite on my rear. Yeah. Even after I learned that 90% of women had cellulite, it didn’t matter. I wanted to have a perfectly flawless backside.

No matter how much I worked out, certain areas of my body never seemed to get the memo. I don’t know why I cared so much either. This was pre-marriage, so that area of my body never saw the light of day.

As I got older, I realized that my obsession with wanting to have a “perfect” rear was a result of something sneaky and dangerous: The Big Bad Checklist.

Now that I’m over my anti-cellulite obsession, I’ve realized some things.

As a younger woman I had an internal running checklist for my entire life. This checklist was relentless too. It went something like this:

  • I must have a perfect rear.
  • Pretty girls have thick hair.
  • Outgoing girls are more popular.
  • Guys like girls with curly hair.
  • Pink nails are in, I need to paint mine.
  • To look smart, I need to have a 5 year plan.
  • I’m only valuable if guys like me.
  • Makeup is the key to looking pretty.
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.  

This running checklist never ended for me. It went on and on and on and on and…you get the point.

If I had to guess, you probably have an internal checklist for yourself too.

As girls, we look around and take note of what other girls look like. We take note of what Hollywood is feeding us. We take note of what the popular girls are like. Then we create an internal checklist of what we need to be in order to be valuable.

In chapter one of our upcoming book (Girl Defined: God’s Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity, and Identity) I call this problem the “Big Bad Identity Checklist.” Here’s an excerpt from that chapter that helps illustrate this problem:

“From the time we were little girls until now, our culture has been feeding us messages of what womanhood is all about. We each took note of what sounded good to us. We internalized a running identity checklist.

Oh, that’s what womanhood is about? Got it. Check. Oh, I’m supposed to be that skinny? Got it. Check. Oh, I’m supposed to have a successful career? Got it. Check. Oh, I’m supposed to get married when I’m young . . . older . . . never? Um, got it. Check. I think.

From the first moment a woman questions her identity, she begins wondering about her womanhood and whether she measures up. Our big bad identity checklist is always growing.”

Whether you realize it or not, you have probably fallen prey to the “big bad identity checklist” too.

There’s a few major problems with living under the weight of the big bad checklist:

  1. Happiness and fulfillment are always just out of reach.
  2. Life becomes about accomplishing the checklist, not about honoring God.
  3. You become a slave to yourself and your personal standards.
  4. Your identity as a woman is based on what other’s think, not what God’s truth teaches.

If you find yourself living under the weight of a big bad identity checklist, I challenge you to put it down. It’s time to rip that checklist in half and instead live according to God’s standards for womanhood.

Nobody has the right to define your identity and value except for God.

Nobody has the right to place conditions on your God-given worth and beauty.

Instead of looking to our checklists for answers, let’s look at God’s word. Here’s a contrasting snapshot of what God’s Word teaches us about some of our “checklist” areas:

True Beauty: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

Worth and Value: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1).

Popularity: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Proverbs 2:4).

Body Image: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Romance: “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11b).

Our checklist will never bring the fulfillment we’re hoping for.

Instead of striving after the Big Bad Identity Checklist, let’s strive to fill our minds with God’s truth and live our lives to honor Him.

True fulfillment and lasting joy can only be found when we live according to God’s truth.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!  

  • In what ways do you personally struggle with falling prey to the Big Bad checklist?
  • How have you seen God’s truth transform your personal struggle into an area of freedom?

PS If you’re interested in checking out the Girl Defined book, click HERE. Order before May 17th and we’ll send you a bunch of free bonuses too!

Photo Credit: Here Girl Walking

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  • Mikayla G.

    Thank you so much for sharing this Kristen! BTW, I was at the Mother/Daughter retreat in Faribault, and I also want to thank both you and Bethany for being so inspiring about your Project Modesty!

  • Anonymous

    If it’s any consolation, guys have their own checklists too. We might place more value (read: stress/anxiety) on what we do (career) than what we look like, but it’s still there, and it bothers us.

    And FWIW, I doubt most guys would even recognize cellulite if they saw it. They’d be too enamored with the female differences God blessed women with. Just saying. We all know this, but I honestly think that reminder is needed in today’s world (read: women are genuinely enough as. you. are).

    Even without makeup.

  • Bethany

    I’m going to preoder your book soon! This is sooo me!!! Thank you for sharing this post, I really needed this right now.

  • Thank you! I needed this post.

  • Cassie

    Thank you so much for sharing! This is just what I needed right now! This is exactly something ive been really struggling with right now. What am i if I’m not pretty, the fastest girl on our team or smart…? Those things are never going to bring me true joy and happiness.

  • Kaela Schultz

    Thank you so much for this post! I so struggle with this! I just ordered your book and can’t wait to get it in the mail!

  • Bethany

    This is great love your posts!


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