One of my most persistent struggles in life has been over body image. It started in elementary school when one of the girls called me “fat.” It’s amazing that one girl’s cruelty could have a life-long effect, but it has. For the record, here is a picture of me in early elementary school. (That’s my sweet little brother in the picture with his dear friend, Ivy. Aren’t they cute!)
Having decided at an early age that this cruel girl was right, I went through most of my childhood and teen years convinced that I was fat. And since guys rarely asked me out (I can count the number of dates I had before I met Matt on one hand), I felt like I had good evidence that I just wasn’t at all attractive.
So, I have struggled for many, many years with how I see myself. Being married to Matt has done wonders to my self-image. It still honestly amazes me that Matt thinks I’m beautiful, but I’ve decided to accept that he does and not question it. Which brings me to my point in writing this.
Ladies, it’s time to stop listening to the “world” and it’s values in determining our worth and our standards of beauty. A woman’s worth and beauty are not determined by a number on a scale or a size on a pair of jeans. While I completely agree with the importance of being healthy, eating balanced meals, and exercising, it’s time for us to stop being so critical of ourselves and so discontent with who God made us to be and what He made us to look like.
For most of us, at our age and stage of life, we owe a good bit of our current “shape” to having had children. Why is this a bad thing? I wouldn’t trade my children for anything, not even the 28-inch waist I had before they were born. And, if “Spanx” means anything to you, you know exactly what I mean. Ladies, we are not rounder and saggier because we’ve “let ourselves go.” Our bodies bear the evidence that we are moms. Society doesn’t value that. Somehow, we are supposed to have either the bodies we had as teenagers or the bodies of anorexic, teenaged boys. But, why? Why should we look like we never had children? Please don’t hear what I’m not saying. Being healthy, eating well, and exercise are good things. Unrealistic expectations, aren’t.
As a side note, do you know why women have cellulite and men don’t? (No, I don’t think it’s because of the Fall, although maybe indirectly.) Women store fat in neat little pockets so that they can access them for pregnancy and breast-feeding. Cool, huh?
So, let’s stop the fad diets, the quick weight loss fasts, the diet drugs, and the self-loathing. Let’s remember that God made us as we are and that His love for us is not based on how much we look like the latest air-brushed model on the magazine.
5 thoughts on “Body Image”
I don’t know many women as beautiful as you are Rachel! This will resonate with so many women and our husbands, who cannot imagine why we can’t see what they see. As we say in my family, some bells can’t be un-rung. Having a baby is one of those bells; the passage of time is another. I think it’s a sad commentary on our Christian culture when we feel ‘less’ for looking exactly like what we were designed to be. Some moms don’t change much and some do. Either way, on the other side of carrying, delivering, nursing and sacrificing for our babies our bodies are changed. My identity, understanding of self, relationship with my husband and body all changed because I had babies. These were good changes, sanctifying changes. Babies need mommies who care for themselves as much as they are able with the right sleep, food and exercise. Babies also need gentle hearts and soft laps. Children need good examples and cozy, lovely mommies to snuggle with. My children told me my stretch marks are lovely – shimmery and silvery in the sun, why did I want to hide them?! Why indeed?
As someone even further beyond those wonderful days of childbearing, I love the fact that my body has progressed to comfort my grandbabies. When a young mother in my family asked what the ‘nana mojo’ was, that caused her babies to fall asleep when I held them, I told her that my chest was like memory foam- one of the advantages of aging! Our bodies were intended for so much more priceless uses, than to simply look good. That’s what those fake pastries sitting on the tray of the local restaurant are for- looking great, but not real.
PS I love the picture, thanks for sharing!
I crossed a line in my life where I just stopped caring–not about health and cleanliness, but about being attractive (I’m 40 now, and I crept toward this line in my 30s). Plumage is for the young, those trying to catch a mate and compete with others who are trying to catch a mate. We are supposed to go through life phases and, somehow, Madison Ave has many of us wanting to be 20 forever, to not transition into those later life phases where we could bring different values to the world. Youth and wisdom do not generally go hand in hand. Why try to remain there?