3 THINGS TO OVERCOME FOR A POSITIVE BODY IMAGE
I took my three kids to buy a new dress the other day. I have always, always, always struggled to fit my body into clothes. I have short legs, big thighs, a long torso, and buff arms. I remember spending hours at the mall with my family because I was never happy with the options that I tried on. I remember looking at the clothes on the rack and loving what I saw, but because my body wasn’t “normal,” (whatever that is), I would try it on with frustrating results. And don’t get me wrong, I tried on EVERYTHING. I remember one specific time (of many) where I literally had 25 pairs of jeans in my dressing room and NOT. A. SINGLE. ONE. FIT.
Fast forward to the other day's shopping errand. I was prepared for the same struggle, the same frustration, and a minuscule hope to actually buy anything. If nothing else, we save a lot of money because of this problem. Just kidding. (but not really). Although the struggle has always loomed, I was surprised by my lack of discouragement. I didn’t feel the pressure to fit into a size 8, I didn’t rip off the ones that didn’t fit in utter disappointment, and I didn’t stand there after every failure and look at my unclothed body in the fitting room mirror with disgust. And even if I hadn’t found a dress that day, if I would have shopped for hours (which I did) and came home with nothing to show for it, I would consider this a win; something I overcame.
3 things I overcame:
1. Obsessing over the number on the scale and my clothing size
My worth and my beauty have nothing to do with a number. I could be a size 2 or a 22, and it would not reflect my value to my maker, my creator, my molder. And frankly, it shouldn’t reflect my value on me, either. I had to stop caring about the number on the scale or size. I had to shrug off the changes my body went through during pregnancies, surgeries, aging, and hormones, and literally, celebrate every tiny victory. The victory in it was to embrace this scripture: “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Romans 9:20
2. Working out for the wrong reasons.
When I started to work out for strength, my focus went from negative body image to positive when I stood in front of a mirror. I used to work out to fit my body into a box. Not literally, but figuratively (of course). The box was not for me, and it was motivated by others and their perspective on what beauty was. I used to suck in my tummy, cover up my arms with sleeves, wear only loose-fitting jeans, all because I was hiding and felt like I wasn’t enough. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with any of the things I used to wear and still do, but there certainly was something wrong with the reason I wore those things. I was hiding and ashamed of how God made me. But the fact of the matter is this: skinny is beautiful and so is (what’s my body type?) buff. My legs have never been thin, my arms have never slimmed down, and my behind has always been substantial, so as soon as I started working out to fully engage in how my body was meant to be, I started to see my body in a positive light.
3. The message adults send kids.
My kids are right there. They are always there, watching, absorbing, listening. What an opportunity! I can either fall into a (perceived) secret place of self-condemnation, shame, and disgust or I can celebrate how God hand-crafted me. The secrecy of self-condemnation is often not so secret. I air out my insecurities with a huff here or a subtle under my breath comment there. The fact of the matter is that we are human, and we have our bad days, we slip up in our proclamation of our discontent, but my accountability stands at my side, listening. Their ears and hearts take it on, and to overcome the negativity on ourselves begins right there. I want them to know that they are wonderfully made, that no certain clothes, makeup, shoe, size or weight will ever take away from who God made them to be. There is no mistake, no freckle, no body type, no sensitive spirit, no gifting, nothing, that wasn’t wonderfully made. There is nothing they do or don’t do or wear or don’t wear that will change the fact that they are created in God’s own image. They not only see me in fitting rooms, but they see how often I glance at my reflection in a store window, they see me putting on clothes in front of a mirror at home, they watch me put on eye makeup once in a blue moon, and I get to choose each day what my response will be. I get to model what being happy with what I have looks like, about celebrating the differences between me and them, and me and papa, and me and Aunty. Because each of us is beautiful in our own way.
Let’s celebrate how we were made! Let’s celebrate our differences and similarities, and let’s celebrate our induction into the land of content for how we were created. What do you see in the mirror that you can celebrate out loud today? If not for your kids, then for you! Comment below a bit about your body image story! Are you stuck somewhere you wish you could move past? Are you free from shame or the influence of society’s beautiful? Do you love one part of what God made in you? I will go first: I love my legs. That’s huge for me. I used to HATE them. But now, I love them! Thank you, God, for the strong legs you gave me!