Body Image: Fighting the Lies of the Body Image Bandit

What do you do when the Body Image Bandit bites? For example, let’s say you’re waiting in line at Starbucks. You notice the woman waiting in line ahead of you. She is probably a Zumba queen, and could easily model jeans on a billboard. You pinch your “muffin top” and sigh. But wait. You can take steps to protect yourself from the Body Image Bandit, who is the father of lies.

Step 1: Recognize the lies.

You have a much higher calling than asking, “Do these jeans make my tooshie look fat?”

Picture a pair of binoculars. This represents your constant scanning the environment to search for lies of the Bandit.

Take a few seconds to recognize you’ve been bitten by the Body Image Bandit. He is the father of lies, and he wants to make you feel like garbage (shame). Then you’ll  feel discouraged and won’t live out your true calling. You’ll be too busy beating yourself up. Here are some examples of the lies the Body Image Bandit feeds people:

  • I’m not good enough (i.e. not “skinny” enough, tall enough, too tall, my face is ugly, my (insert arms, legs, waist, etc.) isn’t good enough.
  • I’m not loveable as I am.
  • I can’t have a rewarding life until I lose ____ pounds.
  • I won’t have a full life until I’m a size _____.

Step 2: Reject the Lies.

Picture a sign that says, “No Parking Any Time.” As soon as you notice your brain going to the Comparing Channel, picture yourself pulling out of that parking spot. Just like you do when you pull your car into a space saying “No Parking Any Time,” put your brain into another gear.

Step 3: Replace the Lies

Picture a remote control. To replace the lies, visualize changing the channel. You were on the Stinking Thinking Channel! One starring plot of the Stinkin’ Thinkin’ Channel is Comparing your body to other peoples’.

Below are some other channel choices. Practice stopping your thoughts and changing the channels so you can do it faster than a woman with PMS can say, “Gimme ice cream!” Otherwise the lies will seep into your soul and rob your joy.

1. Service: How can you use your God-given talents, gifts and story to help others?

2. Make a list of everything you are thankful for. If you think can’t find anything you’re thankful for, think again. The majority of people on earth live on less than $2 a day! You probably have clean water, food, and more than one pair of clothes. Did you see anything beautiful today? Did you drink coffee today? Put it on your list. Learn to focus on the good.

2. Truth:. Copy specific verses down so you can memorize them. I like to use the blank business cards available at office supply stores. Here’s a verse to get you started:  “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8. (Notice it doesn’t say to think about clothing sizes, numbers on a scale, or what you’re gonna do when you “get skinny.”  🙂

3. Pray. Ask the Lord how to use your gifts, talents, and personality for His glory. (Have you read The Purpose-Driven Life, by Rick Warren? The book explains how to use your gifts, talents, personality and story to live out God’s calling for your life. Because you were not created for so much more than  to obsess about your appearance.

Like many activities, this takes practice! The more you practice, the better you’ll get at it. If you continue to work at it, you’ll have a renewed mind.

 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 

2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

lotus with leaf

Body Image, God, and Cellulite

My previous counseling office was in a building which housed an attorney, a mortgage broker, a tutor, two other therapists, and a physician who performed facelifts, chin lifts, botox treatments,and cellulite removal. In what other building in America could you get your thighs and head shrunk all in the same building?

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One stop shopping at its best! (Please understand I know the Lord uses therapists as a vessel of His healing in many cases, and I have my own therapist who God has used to help me overcome my own struggles.)

But seriously, my heart grieved because young women who probably wore a size two or four often visited the physician for cellulite removal. The bottom line was that I was working hard to help my clients feel good about themselves with the bodies God gave them.

But the physician was acquiring her work from women who felt they were fat when they weren’t.  Week after week, I saw the same thin women coming to get the “fat” sucked off their thighs.

Each week their belief systems were reinforced with the idea they were inferior unless they appeared flawless. A glorious set-up for the Father of Lies. Because deep in your soul, you realize that to be flawless is to be on the other side of glory.

That was one reason I decided to move out. Also, all the fat sucking machines kicked the power switch off from overload! Seriously.

The media blasts us with 250,000 ads before age seventeen. Most of the ads shout,“To be thin is to be beautiful – and beauty is almost everything.”  

But God’s word says, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7).

God’s perspective of life is much weightier than anything else. Even a number on a scale – or cellulite.

Body Image and Aging: My Eyelids Are Falling to my Bellybutton

My eyelids have a problem: They are falling every day, and at this rate they will be to my bellybutton by next Spring. I’ve thought of different ways to stop the sagging. I  could use scotch tape, but I’m not sure how well it would work. Or maybe tooth picks would do the trick. Neither of those options sound promising. I know duct tape would do the job, and it comes in pink and purple. Maybe I could use different colored tape for different outfits. (Ok, by now you hopefully know I’m kidding. Please don’t try any of these things!)

 

 

Thankfully, we are created for so much more than obsessing about our appearances. Our culture  blasts us with images from every angle, so I can easily forget that I have a much higher calling than obsessing about things such as my eyelids. The truth is God created me in his image, and I have a greater purpose than focusing on my eyelids, or any other part of my physique.

Deep in my soul, I know that I was created for so much more than fixating on questions like, “How can I get my eyelids to stay up in my northern hemisphere where they belong?” Or…drum roll, please…”Do these jeans make my tooshie look fat?”

Jesus cares much more about my heart than my runaway eyelids. He wants me to be the eyes, the hands, the love of Jesus, and to shine brightly in this world. He has crafted me as a unique masterpiece with gifts, talents, and a story, and he desires deeply for me to use those treasures for his glory.

I am me, and I can celebrate that I am a unique masterpiece. I’ve had the privilege of working with people through their hardships and helping them to see the beauty of their stories, and to grasp that they are each gems. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

My eyelids may be sliding south, but I know that I have a calling to show the light of Christ in this world. I can use the pain of two chronic illnesses and a divorce years ago from an abusive man to show people with humor and grace that they have much higher callings than focusing on appearance. I could obsess all day about my eyelids but I’m choosing to go out and live passionately to shine the love of Jesus.

What would it look like for you to stop obsessing about your appearance and focus on pointing people to the cross with your gifts, personality, stories, and talents? You are a masterpiece.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Perspective and Body Image

While walking down an aisle at Walgreens, my heart almost fell to the linoleum floor and shattered. I was praying for God to give me inspiration to write another blog post.

And then I saw him. The almost-skeleton of a man gingerly shuffled past me down the bread aisle with a walker. He looked about thirty years old.

Gray Deluxe Rolling Walker by Medline®

Courtesy Costco.com

His bones stretched tightly under his skin. I didn’t stare, but passed him with a slight smile. (I remembered all the stares from people when I crashed on my bicycle several years ago and didn’t want this man to suffer any more than he already is. Read the story here:  https://tooshieblog.com/my-story/) Closely behind him walked a thirty-something year old woman pushing a cart. Most likely his wife or sister. I figured he must have wanted to get out because he grew tired of staying at home, even though I could tell he was rushing full speed toward eternity.

Perspective pumped through my veins as I regretted all the times I’d pondered my physique, wishing I could erase parts and redraw them.

I am a masterpiece, and so are you.

God designed each of our bodies with his miraculous glory and wonder. The intricate complexities of the human body operate light years better than the fastest computer. We can easily get swallowed up into the abyss of comparing our bodies with photoshopped images and feel slighted. But this is because we have been brainwashed from seeing 250,000 ads before age seventeen.

Perspective: It is truly priceless.

“For we are God’s masterpieces, created   in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10).

Notice the verse doesn’t say we were created to obsess about our tooshies!  🙂

Cameras, Cameras, Cameras! The Impact of Social Media on Body Image

lotus with leaf

Water lily from kayaking trip

We are the most photographed generation ever.

Our media-crazed culture chips away at body image.  But now that Facebook and other social media play starring roles in the lives of many, the chipping has changed to chiseling.

Cameras, cameras, cameras everywhere.

How does social media influence our perceptions of our bodies?  It heightens our awareness.  Many who were slightly obsessed with body image are now hyper-obsessed.

On the flip side, maybe the presence of social media has inspired some  to live healthier due to the plethora of pictures of themselves.  For example, some whose health suffered due to obesity now exercise regularly and eat healthier foods.

If beauty is in the eye (lens) of the beholder, this is certainly supremely But my fear is we are now even more saturated with negative self-talk.  If I stand this way, do I look thinner? …If I tilt my head at this angle, do I look prettier? 

I recently needed an updated professional headshot.  Since I assisted someone in earning a BA at Brooks Institute of Photography years ago, I decided to take a few head shots with my web cam.

I experimented with what I’d learned.  Different angles.  Unique head tilts.  Soft focus.  Hard focus.  Cropping this way.  Cropping that way.  A clean background.  A warm background.

In the end, I didn’t use any of the shots.

Social Media certainly creates a new frenzy for the body image equation.

How do you think social media impacts our body awareness? Don’t be camera shy. Go ahead, share your thoughts.