Great news! I just learned that chocolate has superb anti-aging properties. I read a short article about this while waiting for my kitty’s appointment. If I keep drinking mochas at the same rate, I should reclaim my 29th birthday by Labor Day! I guess I will keep feeding the chocolate monster within. Maybe I should get back into the habit of making chocolate chip cookie dough. I used to mix it up every few weeks, but hardly any of it made it into the oven because it would take a detour and end up in my tummy. Then it would immediately slide down due to gravity, but for some reason the gravity would stop kicking in when the cookie dough got to my rear end. Weird, huh?
While I had this delectable news about chocolate on my mind, the vet assistant called us in. Prissy, my kitty, had to get her booster shots. It’s still hard to believe I have a cat because I thought of myself as a dog-only type of person. But my husband kept wanting a kitty, so what could I say? She is very loving most of the time, very low-maintenance, and makes an excellent heating pad.
So when Prissy and I got called for her appointment, they weighed her in. The last time we did this, the vet scolded me because she had plumped up to eighteen pounds. He said he was concerned about her health at that weight, so asked me to cut back on her food. Let me tell you, Prissy got nasty and angry. Even worse than me when I used to believe in diets and was irritable because I felt so deprived. She spent a lot of time hanging out by the pantry door where the cat food is kept, making noises like she was in labor of birthing sixteen kittens. So I cut her back very gradually, a little each week. Today we got the good news that she has lost a little over two pounds. The vet now wants her to lose about two more pounds, then she will be at her so-called “ideal weight.”
The advantage that Prissy has over you and me is she has no psychological hang-ups about her weight. She doesn’t compare herself with other kitties, thinking, “Is that cat’s butt bigger or smaller than mine?” Or, “When I turn so you can see my profile, do I look like a pregnant mongoose?” She has no concerns about her appearance because she is preoccupied with more important things like pouncing on our dog or looking for bugs on the ceiling. I have seen no evidence that she obsesses about her waist or the appearance of any other body parts. She doesn’t care about her size or shape, but is more concerned about keeping herself clean. Oh, to be a kitty!
What kind of freedom would you have if you were more like Prissy? I don’t mean having claws and a mousie toy, but what if you could be totally without knowledge or concern about your appearance? Maybe that gives you shudders, and you picture yourself as a sloth rolling out of bed with bad breath, putting on a little pit juice (deodorant), and going about your day. Your hair is uncombed and your clothes are wrinkled, but you don’t really care. You’re on a mission to hunt down breakfast – and the bigger, the better.
If you are like the majority of teen girls and women, you frequently compare your body with other people. Many – not all, but many – of those you compare yourself with – have eating disorders that you can’t see. Other times women and girls compare themselves with the pictures they see in magazines and usually get depressed because they feel they don’t measure up. We have already discussed the statistics on this, which reveals that females feel bad about themselves the more they look at magazines. So why torture yourself with magazine-induced depression?
And so I say it again – let’s have a beauty/fashion/celebrity magazine recycling party. Imagine this: You get together all of your friends and their friends as well. Each person brings all of her beauty magazines, all of her fashion magazines, and all of her celebrity magazines. Each person adds her magazines to the pile. A microphone is provided where anyone can talk about what the magazines have done to their hearts. You may want to have a cake to celebrate the day that you decided to give the Body Image Power a kick in the rear-end. Maybe you could even find a speaker to discuss all the ways you can kick the Body Image Bandit out of your life.
I rarely look at such magazines. I really don’t need that kind of negative influence in my thinking. I am reminded of the passage in Philippians 4:8, although it was not written with body image issues in mind, Paul attests: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, think about such things.”
It is not healthy to stuff our feelings, as I often tell my clients. In fact I tell them that stuffing is for turkeys and teddy bears, and they are neither one! Neither are you. So it is important to get your feelings out in a safe venue, perhaps with a trusted friend who is not shaming or even on paper because paper doesn’t judge. (If you are concerned about someone finding it, no worries because you can type it and then delete it. Believe it or not, the act of the purging your feelings is what is important.) King David called out to God again and again, and often expressed his feelings. Had he been born today, he would have received just about every diagnosis in the Diagnostical and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders.
Even though it is healthy to express your feelings to safe people. That is why I like to express my feelings with friends or on paper and to God, and then focus on the positive : …”whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.”
Focusing on other peoples’ bodies and shaming ourselves for our own looks is not true, noble, right, pure, lovely, or admirable. In fact, it is false (when we look at magazines which are photoshopped and airbrushed), shaming, wrong, and despicable. It brings us down and is another form of “stinkin’ thinkin’” as Al-Anon and the 12-step programs say.
You will notice that Scripture does not say, “Look at the woman (or teenager) in front of you in line at the store. Notice if her thighs, waist, bust, ankles, and/or fanny is bigger or smaller than yours. Then mope around for the next four months because you feel fat and ugly compared to her.” Thank goodness it doesn’t say that! We are not supposed to compare ourselves to the world’s standards, because we are actually citizens of heaven. That is why Scripture emphasizes, “Man looks at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b). How I wish we could saturate the hearts and minds of girls and women with this profound truth. You probably noticed the verse says nothing about evaluating ourselves on the basis of our body fat percentage, or on the shapeliness of our figures. What a sigh of relief. Since we’ve seen over 250,000 ads by the age of seventeen, we may not be able to completely erase their effects from our minds and be like a kitty. But with practice of stopping negative thinking and focusing on more pleasant thoughts, we can reclaim the plunder of the Body Image Bandit.