Beating the Body Image Bandit: Truth vs. Lies

Living in a culture where we drown in a tsunami of images takes a toll.  We forget that phenomenal women have hips.  The lies of the Body Image Bandit tell us if we’re not thin, tall, and flawless, we don’t possess beauty.  Yet that mentality is from the Body Image Bandit, the Father of Lies, whose mission is to kill, steal, and destroy.  The lies include:

1.  Fat phobia:  Research shows that teen girls are more afraid of fat than terrorism.

Due to the images our brains are saturated with, we are brainwashed into thinking thinness is the major criteria of beauty.  One way to combat this is to rid or limit our lives of fashion, beauty, and celebrity magazines.  After looking at such magazines for ten minutes, women become more depressed. 2.  Appearance is almost everything.  God values our hearts much more than the size of our hips.  Actually, our internal qualities carry much more weight in God’s eyes.  “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.  (Gal 5:22) Makeup Quotes 4.  Food is the enemy, as it creates fat.  God created a variety of foods to be enjoyed in moderation.  Read related posts about deprivation, which remind us depriving ourselves leads to binges. Yet if we allow ourselves treats in moderation, we will reduce our desire to binge. 5.  Beauty is completely external. A complete lie.  “What matters most is not your outer appearance – the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes – but your inner disposition.  (I Peter 3:3, The Message)

6.  Youth is beautiful and old age is ugly.  In many cultures, age is equated with wisdom and is greatly valued.  Yet in most so-called “advanced” countries, older people are devalued (women more so than men).  Wrinkles aren’t respected.


“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.”  (Proverbs 16:31, NIV)

Hair: Sometimes You Just Need a New Crop

If you’re old enough, you may remember that the 1980’s were the Big Hair Days.  We used to backcomb our hair way up to the ceiling.  Then we sprayed it with sticky hair spray – about a can per washing. big hair family

Texas was the Big Hair State, and Texans had the special ability to tease their hair way up into the sky.  Hairspray

Ah…..those were the days.  (If you were not born at the time, stay tuned because fashions tend to repeat themselves every 25 years or so.  I know it’s a scary thing, but sooner or later big hair is coming back!)

In pre-revolutionary France, the trendy look was hair that reached six feet high and contained birds nests, fruit, and flowers.  No kidding.  Imagine strolling along the beach, and seagulls fighting over the cranberries in your hair.

You notice a supremely rotten smell, and realize it’s coming from the mid-section of your hair. You forgot to remove the pineapple and kiwi fruit from two weeks ago.  And you thought the eighties big hair was over the top!

Fresh Cut Fruit Tray

Actually, the seventies and eighties were my decades because I could “grow” from five feet two and a half

all the way to 5’10” just from my big hair

and platform shoes.       

Hairstyles will continue to come and go.  It’s God’s way of showing us he has a sense of humor.  Someday you’ll look back at your pictures from past years and think, “Oh my gosh!  Did I really wear my hair like that?!”

1950s hair

What would happen if we could totally grasp the concept that God cares much more about our heart than our hairstyles?  On the surface we probably get it, but maybe we could let it steep into our souls:

“Man looks at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

I hope and pray that those words become tattooed onto our hearts, Tattoos

and that we can reclaim the plunder of the Body Image Bandit.

Body Image: What’s Really Eating at You?


man at sunset nice

You want to tackle your body image issues, but you fall off the wagon.  What causes this?  How can you fight the Body Image Bandit and win?

The first thing is to learn to identify what’s really eating at you.  Whether you’re battling an eating disorder or compulsive overeating (now called “Binge Eating Disorder”), if you can learn to figure out what’s bothering you at any given time, you will be much more successful. If you’re eating and you’re not hungry, something is going on in your heart, most likely.  You’re stuffing your feelings.

Stuffing is for teddy bears and turkeys.

When we stuff our feelings, it makes us much more prone to an addiction or eating disorder.

Many of us don’t even know what our feelings are if we grew up in a dysfunctional household in which the three rules are: 1) Don’t tell 2) Don’t trust, and 3) Don’t feel. 

So we lost touch with our feelings and are unable on most occasions to explain how we really feel.  And remember, “fine,” “Okay,” or “good” are not feelings.  Feelings are divided into six main categories: 

Mad   Sad   Glad   Fear   Lonely   Shame

Since my menopausal memory is slim, I’m thankful that three of the the four main feeling words rhyme!  Google “feeling lists” and you will find a lifetime supply of feelings.

I don’t mean to oversimplify when I say to figure out what’s really eating at you.  Addictions, eating disroders, and body image issues are much, much more complex than simply figuring out what’s eating at you.

However, most people don’t deal with what’s eating at them all day, every day.  Me included.  I’m get much better, still need to work on it.

How do you deal with your feelings?

After you identify your true feelings using real feeling words(like the ones on the lists), then share them in a safe place.  David in the Psalms frequently told God his feelings.  He expressed all four categories of mad, sad, glad and fear.  So of course prayer is a great way to express your feelings.

Another safe place is a journal in which you spill your soul. It shouldn’t be a log about what you did on a particular day.  Rather, it should contain your true feeling words about your life in that moment.

If you aren’t seeing the mad, sad, glad, fear, lonely and shame feelings expressed in your journal, it is less effective.  Safe people like friends, counselors, and spouses (only if you feel safe with them, which many people don’t) are often other safe places.

The purging of feelings is often what we’re trying to do when we attempt to fill the holes in our hearts with food, alcohol, drugs, bingeing, over-shopping, purging, and other addictions.  This is why many addictions begin to take root when we experience hardships in our lives.

Believe it or not, getting your true feelings out will help immensely as you battle the Body Image Bandit.  The release will help you not to stuff your feelings and as a result, you will be much less likely to act out against your body.  Once again, I’m not saying it’s a magic cure in any way.  But if you don’t learn to identify your true feelings and get them out in healthy ways, you will continue to overeat, binge, purge, or starve yourself.  Remember, you’re not a turkey (although you may feel like one sometimes!) or a teddy bear, so don’t try to fill yourself by stuffing your feelings.

Then you can begin to fight the Body Image Bandit and win.

Time Line: Next week, learn how to identify the point when you really started to act out against your own body and what to do about it.

To learn more about how to tackle the roots of food addiction, read my book, Tooshue: Defeating the Body Image Bandit


Body Image and LeAnn Rimes: Worshiping the Art of Skinniness


Does LeAnn Rimes have an eating disorder?  A few days ago, she posted a picture of herself in a bikini on Twitter.  This started a tsunami of tweets about whether or not LeAnn has an eating disorder, including one saying “@leannrimes “Whoa, you’re scary skinny! Sorry don’t mean to offend but that’s a lot of bones showing through skin…”

LeAnn replied “@AJPaterson1987 those are called abs not bones love.” Later, in an airport, she tweeted this:  “Boston Dog’s sliders and French fries in the Cabo airport are so good! Anyone coming here try them!!!”  LeAnn has tweeted previously on the subject
of her body.

While it is not my place to comment on LeAnn’s situation, I think our culture is deranged in that it worships the art of skinniness.  When a culture believes, “the skinnier the better,” to the point that many models look like concentration camp survivors, we certainly have tragedy on a monumental scale.  By the age of seventeen, Americans have been exposed to 250,000 ads featuring pencil thin models.  It’s no wonder we are ultra-obsessed with body image. Most of the models in the media are anorexically thin, and most are unable to menstruate due to exceptionally low levels of body fat.  That speaks volumes.  Barbie, the most popular doll in America, would have diarrhea 24/7 if she were real because her waistline is so incredibly tiny.  Is this what we want to portray to our girls?  Check out my goodbye letter to Barbie for more information:

We live in a culture which screams, “To be thin is to be beautiful, and beauty is almost everything.” Sadly, the message sinks deeply into our souls until it chases people into a sea of despair.  We grab onto what appear to be life rafts, but are sharks in disguise.  This quickly lead us into the Ferocious Foursome:  Dieting, which leads to bingeing due to feeling extremely deprived.  At this point, the dieter wants to eat everything except the TV.  So the second step of the Ferocious Foursome is Bingeing, which leads to more shame and self-contempt.  After the Bingeing comes purging (for some) and then over-exercising (for some).  If the last two aren’t practiced, the lifelong dieter is stuck in the cycle of dieting, bingeing, dieting, bingeing, until they are dizzy.  Research shows that almost all diets lead to weight loss, but later on weight gain. The dieter eventually gains more weight than he or she lost to begin with!  It is exceptionally rare to lose weight and keep it off for decades.

The truth is, body image issues such as compulsive overeating, purging, bingeing, and negative thoughts about our bodies are much more about our stories and relationships than food.  People often try to work on the symptoms only, and don’t address their reasons behind food issues.  Until we address the underlying issues, we won’t fight the Body Image Bandit and win.  When did you first start to binge, purge, or have self-contempt about your body?  While the cultural current is certainly a key factor, addressing the pain in your story will help you fight back the Body Image Bandit – the Father of Lies, who tries to convince you that you are unworthy unless you’re stick thin.

So how can we avoid the Ferocious Foursome, and concentrate on what is truly important?  What if we could learn to embrace the bodies God gave us, and realize with every cell ofour beings that we are each unique masterpieces?  I hope you join me on the passionate voyage of discovering the real you and focusing more on your gifts, talents, and calling than your tooshie.  After all, “Man looks at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.”