I wrote a fairly lengthy post about this topic recently and here I am writing about it again. It’s something that weighs on my heart more than most, and I wish with everything in me that I could rid the world of it. Last night, over whisky ginger ales, a gorgeous friend and I talked about – amongst other things – body image, and the gradual redemption of our sexuality. It was a glorious conversation – talking to someone else who feels as comfortable in their own skin as I do in mine was inexplicably refreshing.
In discussing our mutual appreciation for our bodies that are imperfect yet so uniquely ours, I came to a realization. It is so difficult for women to love their bodies because we are perpetual fixers. When we look in a mirror, we aren’t looking to celebrate, we’re looking to fix. Where is my makeup smudgy? Where is my hair falling out of place? How bad does that zit look now two hours after I applied concealer? Do I look as bloated as I feel? Do I have a mom butt in these jeans? What can I do to fix my flaws so no one else notices them? That is our constant song as women. Most women don’t look in the mirror and say, “Holy cow. Check that out.” What a different group of people we would be if that were the case.
On the other hand, everyone else sees a complete picture. The combination of our hair and makeup and clothes and charisma leads to compliments like, “You’re so pretty!” which we promptly discredit because we’re so fixated on that tendril of hair that didn’t curl the way it was supposed to or that annoying zit that popped up out of nowhere this morning. As if all our glory and beauty rests on a single superficial blemish. And frankly, no one would notice some of our flaws if we weren’t so determined to point them out.
I don’t know how to help people get past hating their bodies, but it breaks my heart when gorgeous women can’t see beyond their love handles to their indisputable exquisiteness. It breaks my heart that women are too uncomfortable in their own bodies to look at themselves without clothes on. It breaks my heart because I know it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve traveled down that road and I’ve been redeemed from it. You can’t tell me it isn’t possible to love your body after years of hating it, because I am living proof that you can.
These days, I’m realizing the beauty and significance of choice. Almost everything is a choice. We choose to love, we choose to be vulnerable, we choose to build walls, we choose to tear them down. We choose to love our bodies or to hate them. It’s an ongoing decision to celebrate who you are or tear yourself down. We are our own biggest critics or cheerleaders. We weren’t made to hide behind clothes – when God pronounced his creation good, he wasn’t complimenting their fashion sense. What we are underneath the clothes we wear, God pronounces very good. When will we choose to stop calling Him a liar?
So here’s my challenge: try to stop fixing and begin celebrating. Keep your interactions with mirrors short and sweet. When the old chorus of inferiority begins to ring in your ears, walk away. Believe people when they tell you that you’re beautiful. Force yourself to accept compliments without argument. Stop the self-deprecating comments – they aren’t funny anyways. Choose to believe that God isn’t blind or flattering you when he says that you are his masterpiece. Don’t buy into the lie that loving who you are is arrogant; on the contrary, hating who you are is so terribly unattractive. On a regular basis, take a good look at yourself in the mirror and say, “Holy cow. Check that face/body out.” Eventually, you’ll start to believe it. You’ll fail miserably at first and you’ll tire of the continual effort it takes to not tear yourself down. But your body is a gift, and being a good steward of that gift means loving it and cherishing it and believing only what is true about it. Remember, the One who paints brilliant sunsets against the backdrop of the mountains, who invented the clear, blue ocean and the bejeweled night sky, looks at you and says, “Now that is very good.” Believe it. Act like it.