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Can I be raw with you all for a sec?
I wrestle with self-image and I have for a while. In a society where bodies are paraded around like trends to be acquired and “legit goals,” it’s very easy to look at the imperfections on your body and feel discouraged.
During my sophomore and junior years of college, I was the skinniest I’ve ever been, but didn’t even know it. Despite doctors telling me that I was underweight for my height and age, despite the fact that my uncle apparently made a comment about how I was shrinking, I still saw myself as being overweight.
My tiny love handles seemed like large cliffs hanging from the sides of my waist.
My legs seemed like two chicken legs, despite the compliments I would often receive on them.
My stomach seemed to bulge in places that I didn’t quite feel comfortable with, despite my family often saying that I was developing definition.
Even when you could see the definition of my ribs, I still thought I needed to lose weight and would often stretch the sides of them to show people how large I was.
Friends, it wasn’t until I looked at pictures of myself from a few years ago that I realized just how thin I was and the most alarming part of it all was the fact that despite the my thinness, I still felt that I wasn’t thin enough.
I still felt like I wasn’t pretty enough.
Needless to say, I’ve gained my weight back and then some, but the struggle still remains. I still find myself glancing at magazines and Instagram posts of models donning swimsuits as casually as I would an oversized sweater in the fall and comparing. I still wrestle with feeling like my face is too full and hips too large.
But in the eyes of society, we’ll never be perfect because it’s never satisfied.But in the eyes of society, we’ll never be perfect because society is never satisfied. Click To Tweet
One year, it’s all about having thigh-gaps and the next it’s all about having large hips.
Our society will always be searching for the latest trend to promote and put out there to encourage more consumerism. Think about it, when the Kardashians started looking more curvier, you found that many people began idolizing having bigger lips, larger hips and even wanting to get plastic surgery to get larger backsides.
In my husband’s native country of South Korea, many people try to get plastic surgery to change the shape of their eyes and to augment their noses to match European characteristics.
When thigh gaps were a thing, you had articles trying to tell women how to achieve them as if thigh gaps have something to do with your weight rather than it being the way that your bones are formed (or the way you position yourself in a picture).
We will run ourselves into a frenzy trying to appease societal standards for beauty and physical features.
However, if we are looking at ourselves through the eyes of Christ and not the eyes of society or the male gaze, all of that changes and we can truly see our beauty within.
WHEN GOD CREATED MAN AND WOMAN, HE SAID, “IT IS GOOD”
I remember seeing that recently and feeling so encouraged because of the implications of that. God created other things during the 6 days that he spent creating the things we often now marvel over. However, when he created us he said that not only are we made in His image, but that it is good. That means that when He made us, He was pleased.
“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” – Genesis 1:27 & 31
Let’s all let that sink in for a minute.
The Creator of all things good and all of the things we often marvel over, created us and was pleased with His creation.
He’s pleased with you, friend. There is no imperfection on your body that God looks at and says was a mistake or an error. While society tries to tell us otherwise, God reminds us that we don’t need to change to fit societal norms because we’re already made beautifully – which brings me to my next reminder.
YOU ARE FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE
In Psalm 139:14, the Bible says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
In a presentation I gave during a youth summit last August, it was revealed to me in my preparations the significance of these words and what that means for our image.
In this verse, it points out that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, but some people might see fearfully and associate it with being horrified about something. Almost as if God is saying He was shocked by the sight of your face, but calls you wonderful anyway.
However, in further study of the word, I realized that fearfully is not necessarily referring to being horrified or afraid, but it means to have reverence, with great passion and respect for.
Similarly to our fear of the Lord, our fear is one of reverence. We’re ultimately in awe of Him and have a great respect for Him.
When God created you, you were created respectfully also. You weren’t rushed. God wasn’t like, “aww, man. I gotta hurry up and create this girl before the end of the week. Let me just throw something together.”
We may operate that way, but God doesn’t and didn’t when he made you.
Instead, He took his time, being intentional about every hair follicle and every perceived imperfection when He made you.
How does that feel resting in that and knowing that despite the imperfections we may see in ourselves, God didn’t make any mistakes? He knows the bulges we try to hide with large clothing (guilty), the freckles we try to cover with makeup, and the hair we sometimes feel compelled to change to meet societal standards because He put those things there and took His time doing so.
YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES:
As cliche as this sounds, you are so much more than your appearance. You are a person with talents, gifts, and something special to add to the world and the body of Christ. Knowing that are made intentionally and uniquely, we can then rest in knowing that what we have to offer is way more than what’s physical. What we have to offer through Christ is something more special and more tangible than thigh gaps and defined abs.
IT’S A HEART MATTER
What my experiences have taught me is that it’s more psychological than it is physical. What I mean by that is, in looking at younger images of myself in college, I realize that I actually was not the size I imagined myself to be. I was actually quite thin to the point where you could see the definition in my arms and ribs. Yet, I perceived myself to be the biggest person in every room I walked into.
Now, I realize how most of it was in my head. How I see myself is totally different than the way I actually appear to others and to God. Recognizing that allows me to also realize that in those moments, I really need to be reminded through God’s word, what He says about me. That I need to be reminded of what’s true about me and not what my eyes perceive.
Friends, if you are looking to lose or gain weight for health reasons or even because you desire to, there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, if you reasons are more rooted in what society says is “beautiful” or “attractive” we should re-evaluate that and really root ourselves in what Christ says about us.
It’s not unhealthy to lose weight or desire to firm up, but it is unhealthy to obsess over it to the point of beating yourself up if you’re not at your “goal weight.” In my experience, I lost weight, but would still beat myself up for not being skinny enough because I hated the way I looked. I hated my body so much that I often deprived myself of perfectly balanced healthy meals so that I could achieve what I perceived to be the ideal body.
It had nothing to do with me wanting to be healthy and everything to do with me just wanting to be skinny.
Instead, grow to love who you are right now. Love your curves and edges, knowing that you were formed uniquely and wonderfully.
One of my favorite ways to feel better about myself when I’m feeling really down is not only remind myself of who I am in God’s eyes, but to also dress up a bit. I’ll put on some makeup, my favorite threads, and I’ll walk confidently knowing that even if no one else likes what I’m wearing, I do and I feel good in it. It’s the confidence that I believe Christ gives me to walk in my true identity as His beloved daughter.
While in the bible, David’s giant was named Goliath, mine is definitely body image. Maybe you can relate to it and if so, remember that the same God that gave David the strength to kill a giant with just a stone is the same God that can help us through our battle with body image.
As this shirt from one of my favorite stores, Solid Light Co (which sells biblical and inspirational items for the Jesus-loving, coffee or tea enthusiast in you) states, “wake, pray, slay.” While this can be read embracing our own beauty, I believe it’s also speaking about the fact that daily we’re fighting this spiritual battle, but through prayer, anything is possible. Pray through it and walk confidently in who you were made to be, knowing that God walks with you.
So stay in prayer, keep fighting, put on your favorite outfit, embrace the beautiful person that you are and that God designed you to be.
P.S If you’re interested in purchasing this beautiful shirt from Solid Light Co, make sure to use my code RO15 to get 15% off your purchase!
Do you struggle with this, too? What are some reminders or biblical verses that have helped you as you wrestle with this?