I’ve always struggled with self-esteem, which is surprising to many who know me. Apparently I hide it well. I’m slim, I have naturally curly hair, and my complexion is smooth. So as I’ve heard from a few friends and seen in the eyes of others: What do I have to be insecure about? Oh. My. Goodness. I’ve recently decided that self-esteem issues have little to do with actual appearance. The core of the problem is deeper than that. Much deeper.

Until my husband confessed to me his addiction to pornography, I never thought much about self-image. Sure, I worried over my looks, but I thought all women did that. When his truth became my reality, my self-image imploded, and I spiraled into depression and self-doubt until I was borderline suicidal.

When I surrounded myself with other women who were in similar situations, I heard from a few of them, and saw in the eyes of others: Your husband only looked at a few pictures. You shouldn’t have so much trouble with this. Such. Senseless. Words. My self-esteem issues had little to do with my husband’s sins because the core of the problem was deeper than that. Much deeper.

We each handle our problems in different ways, and I never got my feathers ruffled by the opinions of those few people. (Good grief, I had too many other issues to worry about.) For whatever reason, my journey through the shadows of low self-image was intense and unrelenting, but now I am back in the sunshine. I didn’t do it alone though, my recovery required constant encouragement from my husband, the aid of a compassionate support group, dozens of self-help books, sessions with our family therapist, plus an intense marriage mentoring program. Yes, it’s been a long journey for me, but the final boost to my emotional health came in the form of a purge as I wrote my fourth book, Looking Glass Lies.

I didn’t plan on writing a book like this, but when I sat down at the keyboard, my self-esteem issues poured out onto the page. Even though the story is not my own, far from it, I was able to grow right along with my main character, Cecily Ross, and together we healed and overcame many of our hang ups. In the end, we were able to look away from the mirror and realize that there’s a whole world of people out there … people who need us … people who don’t really care what we look like.

It’s my prayer that Looking Glass Lies will be a help to other women who struggle with self-esteem. Should you happen to pick up a copy, know that I am praying for you in your own journey, and understand that you are not alone.

From the back cover:

A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations.

For most of her adult life, Cecily Ross has compared herself to other women—and come up short. After a painful divorce from her emotionally abusive husband, Cecily returns to her hometown of Canyon, Texas, looking to heal.

But coming home isn’t what she expects. In a town as small as Canyon, her pain is difficult to escape—especially with her model-perfect ex–sister-in-law working at the town’s popular coffee-shop hangout. With help from her father, a support group, and an old friend who guides her to see her own strengths, Cecily may have a shot at overcoming her insecurities and learning to love again.

The true test comes when tragedy strikes, opening Cecily’s eyes to the harmfulness of her distorted views on beauty—and giving her the perfect opportunity to find peace at last.


“Only three times in my life has a book left me speechless. Looking Glass Lies was the third. Varina puts into words the emotional roller coaster women go through because of shame, insecurities, and the words and actions of others.” – Vanessa M., GoodReads Reviewer

“Although difficult at times to read, Denman’s latest is powerful and a novel that should be required reading for adults. Every woman, regardless of outward appearance, struggles with body image or self-esteem issues. This book reaches the heart and dares to go beneath the surface to explore the reasons why, yet doesn’t offer trite platitude answers. Hope is revealed, but in a subtle way. This is edgy Christian fiction and may not be appropriate for every reader—it touches on some painful and messy situations and has some very mature themes.” – Melissa Parcel, RT Book Reviews Top Pick

Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. Her award-winning Mended Hearts series is a compelling blend of women’s fiction and inspirational romance. Her latest novel, Looking Glass Lies, releases May 2 from Waterfall Press. A native Texan, Varina lives near Fort Worth where she and her husband volunteer in local marriage ministry. Connect with Varina on her website or blog, ShameOnShanty.com.