Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

beauty-2309516_1920It’s not easy to live in today’s culture and be happy with your physical appearance. We are constantly being pushed towards having the perfect body. Three messages keep us way too focused on how we look:

#1: I can never be thin enough. This lie keeps us on the weight-loss roller coaster, constantly in need of more diets and weight loss plans. It is one of the reasons that body dissatisfaction is at an all time high.

#2: There is always more that could be done. This lie sets up the need for constant physical improvement such as cosmetic surgeries, anti-aging strategies and the use of more products and pills–All of which are costly and can distract us from other parts of our lives that may need our attention. I’m not saying don’t use products and services to look and feel good, but don’t get to the point of obsession.

#3: You have to have _______(insert body part) to be successful. Perfection is our goal and can be found through cosmetic surgery or other forms of alteration. Whether it’s a larger booty, fuller lips, smaller nose or bigger breasts, someone else (besides God) is defining who we are supposed to be. Do we really want to clone ourselves to someone else’s idea of how we should look? Give this some thought!

I’m not saying that resisting these cultural messages is easy. But here are 6 ways to balance the push towards physical perfection:

1) Be intentional and defy the cultural body myths. Question the sanity of such claims as “Thin is in” and ask yourself if those views drive you to your checkbook, to obsession or to a relationship with God who is able to deal with your discontent and already sees you as beautiful.

2) Don’t accept narrow cultural prescriptions for beauty. In a day and age in which we celebrate diversity, something is wrong with the one size fits all mentality. Reclaim your body as unique and individually created. You aren’t a mistake in need of a fix! Broaden your definition of beauty—go beyond what is skin deep.

3) Rethink your values. Make the choice to bring back wholeness by embracing the spiritual (God looks at the heart) and the emotional (Physical beauty doesn’t bring peace and contentment). Healthy living is taking care of your body, but constantly pushing yourself to do more can become an idol.

4) Stop comparing yourself to unrealistic media images of how you are “supposed” to look. Supermodels are typically not the epitome of healthy eating and living. And they represent the smallest fraction of women. Most often their images are air brushed, computer altered, professionally lighted and attended to by fashion experts, professional hairstylists, etc. Next time you are at the mall, in an airport or a park, look around and remind yourself of what most people look like.

5) Be around other women who don’t obsess about their bodies. It will help you refocus. If you are not around people constantly obsessing, you are less likely to do it.

6) Change conversations away from the physical to the emotional and spiritual parts of people’s lives. Bring back the needed balance. Discuss character and spiritual experiences. This is a strategy all women can practice–talk about things other than physical beauty, broaden your mind, engage in meaningful activities and serve others.

 

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