Before I get started into this blog post, let me preface it by saying… I think this is the most vulnerable post I’ve shared in the year that I have been blogging. Insecurity, specifically related to my body, is something I struggle with almost on a daily basis. I think part of me is embarrassed to say this out loud. But I can also say that I am pretty sure there are other people out there who also struggle with body image issues. Which is exactly why I wanted to share this blog post in hopes that it might help you!
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I constantly see women struggling with their own body image and a negative relationship with food. I continue to feel the impossibility of meeting the beauty standard of our culture: be thin, be beautiful, but don’t be high maintenance. Today, I want to talk about where I’m at in this journey with battling negative body image and how I’m working on finding true peace and security in Jesus.
What does today look like? Well, if only people saw through my facade they would see a woman who is constantly ashamed of her body and belittles herself. She is filled with fear, anxiety, self-doubt, and self-criticism because of the two pieces of chocolate she had after dinner or the “huge” (aka normal portion) meal she had while eating out at a restaurant. Or that her clothes fit a little bit tighter so she feels like a failure. A woman who gets so ashamed of who God made her be so much so that she tries to control the one aspect of life she thinks she can.
Do you ever have those thoughts? Do you ever look in the mirror and not like what you see then begin to talk to yourself negatively? If so, keep reading, I’ll let you know how I fight those thoughts, those lies, and come to a place of peace and joy with who God created me to be.
Negative Body Image
Sadly this affects so many young women. The American societal pressure to be fit and thin contributes to this epidemic of negative body image, as seen in the below statistics:
Did you know that 42% of girls in grades 1-3 want to lose weight?
89% of girls have been on some sort of diet by age 17.
51% of 9 and 10-year-old girls feel better about themselves when they are dieting.
81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat.
The fact that these false messages have seeped into the minds of our children and youth (let alone our own minds) is infuriating. Food and body preoccupation, self-hatred, eating disorders and poor health has taken its toll on us. We all feel the pressure of the blatant body shaming that goes around in our society and with today’s social media obsession we are just seconds away from models and fitness gurus. No one should compare their own body and the way God made them to others, which I have talked about how comparison is the thief of joy.
What Determines Self Worth
You may not even think about the measuring stick you use to determine your self-worth. But, after all, when you feel like you are measuring up you feel good about yourself. When you feel you have fallen short, your self-confidence likely plummets. For a lot of women, we can tend to measure our self-worth by the number on the scale.
With the diet culture focusing so much on how we look physically, we need to focus LESS on providing just compliments on physical appearance and focus MORE on non-appearance related comments. Examples: “I value your friendship;” “Thank you for being vulnerable with me;” or “You are such an encouragement to me;” “I love the genuine sacrifices you make for others.” And the list goes on.
I’m not saying we should never give compliments on physical appearance, but I am saying we should focus more on the intrinsic value given to each individual by God. We don’t exist to look good or weigh a certain number. We exist to live out our God-given purposes. Ultimately, our hearts and who we are internally is far more important than our outward appearances.
What God Says About You
The media constantly bombards us with messages that “you are only as good as you look,” and they specifically target people’s insecurities over everything from weight gain to aging. The way you choose to measure your worth affects every aspect of your life. One day all our earthly bodies will be stripped away and all that will be left is the state of our hearts before God. Will we appear beautiful internally or grotesque?
When you know God and who He is, and what He says about you, you’ll experience a sense of peace through life’s inevitable ups and downs. You are chosen. You are dearly loved. You are free from condemnation through Jesus’ death on the cross. You can do all things through Christ.
Who are you going to believe, the world or God? Repeat after me: Lord, today I choose to believe who you say that you are and who you say that I am. Help me to let go of my insecurities and embrace my true identity in Christ.
Psalm 139:13-14 (HCSB): For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.
1 Kings 8:39-40 (HCSB): May You hear in heaven, Your dwelling place, and may You forgive, act, and repay the man, according to all his ways, since You know his heart, for You alone know every human heart, so that they may fear You all the days they live on the land You gave our ancestors.
What Does God Value
Society values wealth, beauty, influence, and more. With those things, we are in a constant battle to feel honored, valued and to constantly put others down to build ourselves up. We waste so much time pursuing what the world says is important that we miss the goodness that God has to offer. When we focus more on how we view ourselves or what others say, we tend to hinder effective service to God and to others.
We’re wearing the wrong spectacles and looking through the wrong lenses. We must reject the world’s value system and replace it with God’s value system. We must acknowledge who He is and who we are not, placing Him rightly in His place of glory. The only way to change our values to align with His is to learn more about His character and what He values about us.
God does not view your value and worth by your mere appearance. He sees so much more than that! We were made in the image of a holy, good, loving, faithful God whose economy is not the same as the worlds. And though we were born into this world, we are not of this world. When our heart lines up with the heart of the One who created us and truly values us, we will treasure and honor the things He does, and in the process find greater security and peace.
How To Overcome Body Image Issues
A few weeks ago I tried on a dress that had fit me the previous year but wouldn’t even zip up all of the way. And through the tears and feelings of failure, I reminded myself that “I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, and most importantly, I am a child of God who is perfectly and wholly loved no matter how I look.”
When I get in those moods and begin to tell myself the mental lies that “I am not good enough”, I have to remind myself to change the narrative. I’ve never been a huge self-affirmation person. But when I start feeling not skinny enough or pretty enough, I am focusing on immediately reminding myself who I am has absolutely nothing to do with my size. I remind myself that the value I bring to my family, my husband, my friends, my church, and the world around me has absolutely nothing to do with the number on a scale. I remind myself (okay my husband does) that I am so much more than that.
I am not defined by my body size or how great or not that I think it looks. When I start to get stuck in my head about what the scale says or how I look in the mirror, I instantly pray to God to lift my eyes off of myself and fix them on Him and the bigger, better things that He has for me.
Believing The Truth
When I get stuck in my head plagued with insecure thoughts I think “I feel fat, therefore I am not good enough.” It sounds crazy I know. God graciously reminds me that I am beautiful, strong and perfectly loved… and none of those things have to do with my size or weight.
One of the ways I battle those lies is with the truth found in the Word of God. By the grace of God, I have a come to a place where I am starting to believe the truth that who I am lies in something so much greater than my body image. A verse that I constantly remind myself of when I get into these moments is 1 Peter 3:3-4: “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.”
You can try as hard as you want to adorn yourself with lipstick and earrings (none of those are inherently wrong by the way) but what God really cares about is your heart. We all get new bodies someday so we shouldn’t kill ourselves to get the “perfect body” now but should instead focus on renewing our hearts and minds to be more like Christ.
The Peace That Jesus Gives
We are loved with an everlasting love. Grasping that truth allows you to embrace the peace that Jesus gives. Does that mean eating well and working out doesn’t matter? Absolutely not. Those things are still important to me and something I prioritize because of the health impact (both mentally and physically) that they have on me. But we should not let our “enough-ness” be defined by those things.
Ultimately, our size doesn’t define us. It is not where we should place our self-worth. No matter what size you are, embrace what makes you uniquely YOU! God has declared your body beautiful because He made you and knew you before you were even born. Your value and identity should be found in Jesus Christ, in who He is and who He says you are.
I hope this helps you know that 1) you are not alone in your struggle and 2) there is freedom from that insecurity when you put your hope and faith in Jesus Christ. Ask the Lord to lift your eyes from the number on the scale to something so much greater, and see your body for what is: beautiful. It is uniquely made in the image of God. And most importantly, God loves your heart more than your outward appearances.