“Mommy, do these jeans make my butt look big?” my friend’s daughter asked her. After assuring her five year old that she was exactly the way God wanted her to be, Sandy (not her real name) called to tell me. She knows I’m writing a book on body image, and thought I would be very interested in the comment although it certainly created a wave of guilt and confusion in Sandy’s heart.
“Where on earth did Cassandra (not her real name) get this kind of thinking? I’ve tried so hard not to verbally bash my body in front of her, and I try to praise her on what she does instead of what she looks like. What on earth is going on?” I could tell Sandra strained to hold back a floodgate of tears.
After letting Sandy vent, we talked about the fallout of living in a culture in which we see over 250,000 ads before the age of 17. The ads, for the most part, scream out to women, “To be thin is to be beautiful, and beauty is almost everything.” That lie infiltrates our thinking and invades our souls to the point that we feel that a great deal of our value comes from how thin we are. Due to this environment, women often talk about the triad of subjects that can easily lead to self-contempt. Those are food, fat, and fannies. Women are easily swept into the whirlpool of stinking thinking about their bodies. If we are not careful, we can get pulled into the undercurrent of negativity. Comparing ourselves with mannequins who appear to have such a low percentage of body fat that they would not menstruate if they were real people is certainly stinking thinking.
What would happen if women supported each other in stamping out stinking thinking concerning body image? No more complaints about our fannies and other unassorted body parts. No more talking about diets and fat and saggy, baggy eyes and breasts that hang to your knees. No more stinking thinking, period! (For more on this subject, check out my blog entitled, “7 Ways to Protect Your Daughter or Son from Eating Disorders.”Let us focus on the positive, and lightly sprinkle our conversations with a focus on health rather than obsessing about our various body parts that gravity is gobbling up. After all, God knows our hearts and tells us to focus on the positive (Philippians 4:8). So let us focus on using our gifts, talents and stories to help create beauty in the world instead of focusing on our so-called body imperfections. Be thankful you can walk and move and breathe without pain. I know what it’s like not to be able to do those things, even though I used to run six miles a day and swam competitively for years. (See “My Story “at the top.) The greatest beauty lies in giving thanks for what you have instead of focusing on our society’s insatiable hunger for the so-called perfect body. After all, the perfect body is the one God gave you.~
Want more? Read my book, Tooshie: Defeating the Body Image Bandit.