Christians struggling with negative body image? Oh yes!! Negative body image is not something Christian women are immune to. Here I will share my own struggle with body image and some verses to help those with the same struggle.
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My Struggle With Negative Body Image
I am finding myself standing yet again looking into my full-length mirror and I realize I am never satisfied. No matter what clothing I have on or how good my hair looks or if my makeup is on point, I am never satisfied.
Lately, it seems I never am. I may look younger than I am, I may get compliments on my hair, my makeup, my clothing…it didn’t matter. I wasn’t satisfied.
All my adult life, up until around age 35, I was THAT person. You know, the one who could eat anything she wanted and never gain an ounce? Yeah, that was me.
And oh boy did I eat! I ate everything and anything that was bad for me too because, well, I just didn’t care. I wasn’t going to put on weight so why not enjoy it, right? I wasn’t yet at the point where health was a real concern so I just ate!
And yet there I was, this time after carrying 7 babies and now at age 52 and about that many pounds’ overweight. Now I looked at my body and despised myself.
I didn’t just despise the weight. I despised MYSELF!
Negative Body Image Turned to Self Hatred
I hated what I had done to myself. Hated my weakness. I hated that I let it define me and I hated that I was so undisciplined that I couldn’t even manage to go on a diet or workout and lose the weight.
Oh, I did from time to time but never stuck with it. The weight would come back and it would bring friends!!
But I had the answer!! Or at least I thought I did at the time!
I knew how to finally rid myself of it once and for all! I made the appointment and had liposuction!!
Yep, I had lipo!
I had them remove as much fat as they could possibly medically and legally remove!! And wow, what a difference! I finally had a waist again and I was feeling great!
But it didn’t last.
Negative Body Image – Still Never Happy
Soon I looked in that mirror and realized, I wasn’t satisfied. After all of that…still not satisfied.
Now I was picking apart the loose skin on my abdomen from multiple pregnancies. I was looking at the areas that I didn’t have lipo on and I was beating myself up over deciding not to do them.
I lost some weight but not a lot because lipo is for body shaping and not weight loss.
At the end of the day, I was still miserable with what I saw reflected back at me in that mirror. I still despised what I saw.
I Still Hated Myself
I still despised ME.
I gained weight again, Not in the areas where I had lipo but in the areas I didn’t. My inner thighs were growing larger and for the first time EVER, even though I gained all that weight before, I had no gap between them.
If you don’t know what I am talking about, then you and your thighs are fortunate indeed!
My arms for the first time got larger and flappier. The lipo didn’t do a thing for keeping weight off. It only changed where the weight went on.
I still had the same old bad habits and I was still miserable.
I was still defining myself by my appearance; by outwardly things.
Be in the World But Not Of It
You see, I was looking at myself in the mirror and I was judging myself by the world’s standards. I was constantly measuring myself up against other people.
If it wasn’t people around me, it was people on TV, people in magazines, people in my fitness groups. I let other people define for me what happiness was and what satisfaction was and what my worth was, and I was basing it on my appearance.
Too fat, too old, eyes too hooded, hair too curly, clothes not chic enough, teeth too gapped, the list went on and on.
The Bible tells us to be in the world, not of it but I was being OF it.
I Felt Weak
I was miserable because I felt weak. At the very core of my despair was my weakness.
I felt like I lacked the drive and determination and self-discipline to eat healthy and exercise.
I HATE exercise, I admit it. If you see me running you better run too because something is chasing me! That’s my feeling about exercise in a nutshell.
You see, Christian women are NOT immune to the temptation to judge ourselves by the world’s standards.
As long as I base my worth and my happiness on worldly standards, I am going to be miserable. And that is what I was.
Negative Body Image – Knowing Your Worth
There is always going to be someone thinner, someone younger, someone prettier, someone with more money, someone with a fancier car, a better handbag, a more popular blog.
As long as I rely on my own flesh, my own self-discipline, my own willpower, my own strength to get me to where I need to be then I will fail and I will be unhappy because I am not only striving on my own, I am striving to meet a standard the world has made me feel I need to meet and not on God’s standards.
I am not only striving on my own, I am striving to meet a standard the world has made me feel I need to meet and not on God’s standards.
And as long as I find my satisfaction based on worldly standards then I will never be happy because as I said, there’s always going to be someone with bigger and better! Or in my case, it would be smaller and better!
I was not only defining myself on worldly standards, but I was also trying to achieve everything with my own WILL and my own DETERMINATION.
So I can sit down and write this to you and logically say what I should and shouldn’t do or should or shouldn’t feel…and yet I still look in that mirror and have the same old feelings. I am like Paul…
”For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” Romans 7:19 NIV
Who I Am in Christ
Paul may have not meant exercise or losing weight but it is the same struggle nonetheless. The struggle to know what you SHOULD do but that you still DON’T do.
Lamentations 3:22-23 says,
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.” NIV
His mercy, His compassion, is new every morning! Good thing because I am sure I use up a good supply by bedtime!!
It is when we can recognize what our sin is, or what our struggle is, or what our temptation is that we can go to Him in prayer about it. It is only when we recognize we are trying to keep up with worldly standards that we can go to His Word and remind ourselves of HIS standards.
My Help Comes From the Lord
My happiness when I walk out the door should not be because I think I look acceptable for the world’s standard.
It should not be because I feel that one day I actually managed to work up enough willpower to do a workout.
However, it should be because I find my joy, my worth, my acceptance in HIM!
It should be because of what HE says about me, not what the world does.
I should be happy because I don’t have to rely on my own willpower to eat healthy or exercise. I can go to Him, my ever present help! I can take my struggle and temptation to Him! I don’t need to struggle on my own with these things. HE is there to take the burden from me! And He will take the burden from you.
So when I look in the mirror now in the morning I don’t just look at my appearance. I look at myself and I tell myself what HE has to say. I affirm my worth with HIS word.
Here are some I can share with you!
4 Verses For Those Who Struggle With Negative Body Image
Proverbs 31:30 says,
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” ESV
1 Peter 3:3-4 says,
“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” ESV
Psalm 139:14 says,
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” ESV
And one of my favorites…
1 Samuel 16:7 says,
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” NIV
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Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved