Is it so difficult to accept the bodies we’ve been given, to celebrate them as uniquely designed by God and created in His image? Apparently.
Loving, even liking, your body is a rare thing in today’s culture. It seems we all belong to the sisterhood of the dissatisfied traveling pants! If we think about it, there is so much working against body acceptance. And unless we are intentional about changing the way we see ourselves, we’ll fall victim to the cultural think of you can never be too thin, too beautiful or too young.
What’s needed will not come from promised commercial solutions. No, the answers for true acceptance come from deeper truths and require a spiritual revelation and a grassroots movement among believers. Those who consider themselves women of faith know that a transformation must take place—one that renews our minds and calms our souls from body obsession.
Just as feminists raised their voices against gender discrimination in the 1960s, we need that same passion to be stirred in us regarding body dissatisfaction. The pressure to look like the ionic Barbie is constant and needs to be opposed or we’ll continue to see record rates of eating disorders, cosmetic surgeries and body dysmorphic disorders. Make no mistake. The numbers are rising. And while our nation experiences record rates of obesity, personal happiness is still tied to thinness. As a result, body image, our mental picture of ourselves, grows more negative as reality fails to match the body idealism we embrace.
I‘m calling for a body acceptance movement to be led by those who know and experience the transforming power of the Gospel. While it’s great that organizations like the Dove Foundation are beginning to combat our narrowing definitions of beauty, the church needs a wake-up call on this issue. Most of us need to examine our thoughts about our bodies and make changes in our thoughts, emotions, relationships, and in the culture with which we surround ourselves.
We are to place our entire life before God as an offering, or said another way, as an act of worship. This means that our physical bodies are to be holy and pleasing to God–not pleasing to our neighbor, our spouse, our date, or even ourselves. They are not the focus of our approval. God is. And His condition for holy and pleasing has to do with what we do with our bodies in obedience to his Word, not how we physically appear. In fact, no emphasis is placed on physical appearance.
That said, we are to care for our bodies as the temple where God lives. This means we should eat healthy, exercise and take care of our appearance. However, we should resist the out of balance emphasis the culture places on appearance in determining our worth. God values us because of who we are, not because we lost five pounds or have great legs.
We are not to think like the culture thinks unless it lines up with the truth of God’s word. So, when we are constantly told to improve and fix our outward bodies, we are being distracted from the truth of acceptance. Nothing in God’s word says younger looking skin makes you more desirable to God or that big breasts bring success. These are the ideas of fashion gurus, diet experts, the cosmetic industry and plastic surgeons. The intent is simply to get you to buy more product and spend more money.
Our esteem is not based on the perfect nose or fullness of lips. Take inventory concerning your body. Examine your value system. Be conscious of what society tells you about who you are and what you are supposed to be. Above all, listen to the One who made you, who loves you without condition, and who wants you whole and well. It is possible to reclaim and redefine our bodies as ours. Today, let’s make peace with our thighs and rejoice!