What Women Need To Know About Body Image

Each morning as I step in front of my mirror, I hear it whisper:

Wow, you should NEVER leave the house without makeup. Ever.

That wrinkle wasn’t there yesterday. You’re getting so old.
You’re so fat it’s a miracle anyone likes you. You should be ashamed.

Does your mirror whisper, too?

My mirror whispers what our culture has programmed my mind to believe about body image — that somehow my physical appearance determines:

…my likeability,

…my destination,

  …my worth.

After all, that’s what glossy magazine covers and rail thin TV and movie stars blare at us each day.

If you don’t have a Barbie figure, Malibu tan, perfect teeth, flawless skin, billowing hair, pouty lips, perky breasts, and endless legs, somehow you are less than.

Dustin Hoffman was once interviewed about his 1982 blockbuster movie Tootsie. Making that film so profoundly altered his tainted views about a woman’s physical appearance, that over 30 years later he cannot speak about it without choking up:

His experience revealed a devastating lie that confirms what women (and men) today have been brainwashed to believe: Physical beauty = value.

The statistics are staggering:
~ 90% of all women want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance.
~ 81% of 10 year old girls are afraid of being fat.
~ One out of four college-age girls have an eating disorder.
~ Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents and teenagers.
~ Only 2% of women think they are beautiful.

The world’s obsession with physical perfection murders our self-esteem and mangles our self-worth.

As I approach turning 50 this September, I have finally embraced a truth that took me far too long to realize:

I AM BEAUTIFUL.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know this fact about my physical appearance confirmed by doctors: I am overweight.

But more importantly, I know this life-changing fact confirmed by Scripture: my Savior sees me as an immeasurable treasure for whom He sacrificed His life.

Jesus, my family, and my friends do not value or love me based on my physical appearance.

And neither will I.

After a lifetime riddled with roller coaster diets, over-the-counter diet pills, crash exercise regimens, fat-reducing body wraps, and a painful divorce, I have planted both feet on God’s firm foundation and roar from the depths of my soul:

ENOUGH!
I am beautiful.  

AND SO ARE YOU.

Not because the world says so, but because the One who created you says so:

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

The One who created fields of vivid flowers, soaring mountains, and deep blue oceans created YOU. Not because He had to, but because He wanted to. 

And God does not create ugly.

He created you to enter into a loving relationship with Him — to lavish on you unconditional love, extraordinary blessings, and gifts that never hinge on your dress size or complexion.

Through the world’s eyes, physical perfection hisses destructive lies.

Through God’s eyes, Christ’s perfection provides redemptive truths.

Jesus, perfection made flesh, walked this earth and loved ALL — without regard to race, gender, age, mobility, social status or physical appearance.

He demonstrated how to love others likewise and invited us to love Him. When Jesus voluntarily gave His perfect life to provide the certain hope for imperfect people to spend eternity with Him, He promised that we will be like Him.

So here’s the soul-freeing truth: Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” Psalm 34:5

When you and I look to God for our identity and worth, we are radiant. BEAUTIFUL! He invites us to see ourselves through His loving eyes, not a culturally warped, photo-shopped magnifying glass.

When I remember Mother Teresa, I don’t think of physical beauty. I think of Jesus. His love shining through her made her more beautiful than any super model on the planet.

We have a generation of girls killing themselves — literally — to strive after physical perfection. Please do not pass up any opportunity to tell them that they are beautiful — not because of how they look — but because they are created in God’s glorious image that transcends outward appearance.

It is extraordinarily hard to undo society’s brainwashed definition of beauty that our culture has ingrained in our minds. But please hear this today:

A mirror’s reflection does not determine your worth because Christ’s perfect beauty reflecting through you makes you priceless.

And each time your mirror starts whispering, duct tape it shut with the truth of God’s Word:

God created you.
Jesus died for you.
You are beautiful!

Thank you, Lord, for loving us beyond ALL worldly measures.

Have you ever struggled with body image issues?
How did you cope with or combat it?
What wisdom can you share to help others?

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6 thoughts on “What Women Need To Know About Body Image

  1. Yes!!!! The more I study Scripture, the more I realize two things
    1) how much of our belief and assurance is shaved away slowly as we pay less and less attention to honoring God as Creator. It really does matter that we were formed and knit… in His Image!
    2) God sees even physical beauty in us in ways we can’t even contemplate because His wisdom is unfathomable. Gorgeous in the heart, gorgeous in every part. I think He is so wise that, while He wants me to take care of my health, He doesn’t see my plumpness and eye bag the same way I do. When He looks at even those things, He sees beauty in what He has made. And a redeemed child.

    I just love Him. He’s so wise! No shame, girl. No shame!

    And yes…my mirror whispers. Blah! So I pepper it with post-it’s about what God thinks instead. Thank you for this article, Donna! Such an important discussion!

     
     
    1. Donna Pyle

      Heidi, I love your description: “our believe and assurance is shaved away slowly.” It’s so true. It’s a slow brainwash, a creeping mindset that soon becomes our normal way of thinking. No shame is right! Mirror, mirror on the wall, God loves us most of all. 🙂 Thanks for lending valuable insight to this important discussion.

       
       
  2. Alissa McLellan

    Idol Lies….(your post made me think of a Bible Study/book by Dee Brestin)…we create an idol out of body image (the very thing that was created in HIS image). We look to this idol for approval and comfort. This Idol LIES: “if only I’m one size smaller, I’d be content” “if only I looked like her” “if only I could get through 3 weeks of a diet program” “if only….” It steals our joy. It makes us feel less than. It takes our eyes off of Christ. The lies are NOT from God, they are from the enemy. I love your post Donna and I think it is necessary to get this message out. Thank you for taking time to write and for so candidly sharing your struggles so that others may benefit. You are beautiful. Beloved, you are His.

     
     
    1. Donna Pyle

      I read Idol Lies about four years ago and it’s excellent. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and insight, Alissa. You’re right – it’s necessary to get this message out! So many struggle in silence and it’s that very silence that becomes one of our worst enemies. Speaking out, sticking together, searching God’s Word for His truth together — it’s all about exposing the lies to the light of God’s love. And you, Alissa, are beautiful, too!

       
       
  3. Daisy

    I get the concept of being worthwhile because God created us. If God loves us and created us as we are – tall, thin, short, fat, scarred, covered with moles and excess hair, etc. Why do we put so much emphasis on weight loss and being thin? Why do we kill ourselves dieting, push ourselves to exercise, and eat only rabbit food in the hopes that we’ll finally get thin again?

     
     
    1. Donna Pyle

      Exactly, Daisy. We put emphasis on it because our culture puts emphasis on it. We have a responsibility to care for what God has given us (which I have not by unhealthy eating habits), but He never said for us to obsess about it. Thanks so much for stopping in!

       
       

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