The reactions I got when I told my close friends and relatives about writing something for a Christian blog devoted to helping women who are struggling with body image surprised me. Instead of “Way to go!” and “I’m proud of you!” I almost unanimously received the same response:
“Why would you write about that? There’s nothing wrong with the way you look; you shouldn’t have a problem with body image.”
My husband (bless his heart, he means well) said that the women on Compared to Who? would make fun of me when they saw my picture. According to him, I am “one of the prettiest women in the world.” Ahhh … I love him.
I tried to explain, but I’m not sure he understands.
Feeling like your appearance is never good enough or that you are never good enough has nothing to do with the way you actually look. It’s about a flawed perception of self.
It’s kind of like being color blind; you don’t seen things as they truly are. Someone who is colorblind might see green instead of yellow. I struggle with seeing acne and fat thighs instead of seeing a loving wife, mother and friend that is worth “far more than rubies” in her Creator’s eyes.
You can be 90 pounds and still have an eating disorder. Supermodels still struggle with body image.
Another name for the struggle is body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, BDD is best defined as “a body image disorder characterized by persistent and intrusive preoccupation with an imagined or slight defect in one’s appearance.”[video-ad]
Whether it is an obsession over weight or a continual loathing of a certain body part, it is an affliction that will cloud your perspective and distract you from what’s really important. It will affect your relationships, create a foothold for the Enemy and hold you back from your full potential.
Now that we have established that the struggle is real, what can we do about it?
Some people have suggested banishing scales and mirrors as a way to free one’s self. Everyone hates them and are quick to blame the poor scales and mirrors, but is it really their fault?
It’s not the scale that says, “Look at that, you only lost two pounds all month!” or the mirror that says, “Geeze, your neck skin is really starting to sag!” Rather it’s the person standing on or before that object that has created that voice (and honestly, wouldn’t you be a little freaked out if your scale or mirror started talking to you!?).
That voice may never fully go away, but I do believe there are ways to quiet it. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be things you will still want to change about yourself, but there is a way to accept where you are at on your journey.
Unless I undergo a lot of surgery or find a time machine, I will never look the way I did when I was younger. I’m not supposed to. But as the tube tops in my closet will testify, I have not fully accepted this fact.
Paul got it right in 2 Corinthians 5:4 when he said, “While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.”
How many times have you groaned and sighed about some part of your body? Probably too many to count. I know that’s true in my case!
It is time to let go of our physical fears and aspirations. It is time to let our pride die so that we may be “swallowed up by life.” It is time to stop longing for Halle Berry’s toned legs and abs and strive for a different type of “new” body.
A new body whose worth is measured not by a number on a scale but by the light reflected from the cross of Calvary.
I know everyone has heard at least a portion of the original “Serenity Prayer” by Reinhold Niebuhr before, but I would like to leave you guys with my own tweaked version for reflection:
God, grant me the ability
To accept the things about myself I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know what’s really important.
Taking it one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting struggle as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful self
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in eternity.