Is Taking it All Off the Answer for Body Image Issues?

Here’s a story from last summer…the one where I had to take off all my make-up and go on television. Oh my. Is taking it all off the answer for body image issues? Here’s what I learned.


Last night I had the privilege of being a part of a great story on body image on our local CBS affiliate, KTVT channel 11.

The gist of the story focused on what we’ve been doing at Dallas Moms Blog to try to encourage women not to “Try” so hard; a local campaign of sorts based on what Colbie Callait sings and demonstrates in her new music video by the same name.

The tease for the story was great, and, just that, a total tease. “Dallas moms take it all off.”

It captured attention and, hopefully, encouraged viewers to stay with the show for a few more minutes to see if the four rather conservative looking women sitting around my kitchen table were actually going to strip down to nothing.

We didn’t, of course! What they meant, instead: We took our make-up off. Yes, a few of my mommy friends and I bravely appeared without mascara and lip liner in photographs that circulated social media last week.

Candidly, the experience was liberating. I thought it would be a much bigger deal than it actually was. Though I was nervous about pressing “publish” on those make-up free photos, allowing my au natural look to surface on Facebook turned out to be much less of a big deal than I expected.

People kindly responded with comments like, “You look great.” Or, “Natural Beauty.” And, “I can’t tell the difference between the make-up and no make-up photos.” (Those of you who made the latter comment lie. But, I love you anyway.)

I’ll admit it: I learned a lesson. I think a lot more about how I look physically than any. other. single. person. does.

And, it’s completely unnecessary.

But, what’s amazing to me, is how many body image experts out there are saying that taking it off is the answer. They preach that taking it off actually heals our body image brokenness.

A 260-pound woman just made the news when she stripped down to her bikini and strutted down Hollywood Boulevard. A few months ago, I wrote about a Brittish body image expert who helps women by encouraging them to get naked.

I don’t think taking it all off is the stand alone, fix-this-problem, final answer. It misses the heart of this issue.

Even Callait’s implied recommendation of taking off the make-up we hide behind has limited healing power. Yes, I loved the reminder that my friends will love me even without my eye shadow. Yes, I know that other’s opinions shouldn’t matter…that much…

But, at the end of the day, stripping off all that I put on to achieve some standard of beauty offers little more than temporary help.

The truth that my value is not tied to my (with-the-help-of-Mary-Kay) flawless complexion was reinforced through the make-up free exercise. But, the problem behind why I think looking perfect is so important and why my worth is tied up in what I look like goes unaddressed.

Cleaning my face and taking a picture may remove my foundation, blush, and mascara but not by beauty idol.

You see, our cosmetics collection, wardrobe, and matching accessories are not really the problem. They are just symptoms of our heart’s sickness.

If you struggle with beauty and body image, like I do, the only place we truly need to get naked–to take it all off–is in our hearts, humbled before God. We need to ask him to show us what we need to strip away. We need to pour out to him all that we’ve used to cover and even replace the beauty of what he’s done for us.

Beauty isn’t the problem, dear friends. It’s the love of beauty. It’s the pursuit of beauty. It’s beauty and body image idolatry. When beauty becomes the treasure that we seek: that’s when we get into trouble.

Because, as with money, when we seek beauty we will never have enough to be satisfied. There will always be another pound to lose, another product to try, another great-fitting brand of jeans that we must own. We need more, and more, and more.Working Out Love

And when it feels like we are getting close to our original goal, say to lose some weight, beauty tricks us and says, “Oh, sorry. You aren’t there yet.”

There’s a new project waiting. Now, weight loss isn’t enough, there’s extra skin and stretch marks to take care of. Or, maybe your new body inspired a new hair style, but now, you’ve changed your hair color only to realize that now you need new make-up to match. On and on and on the ridiculous cycle goes.

The beauty treadmill never stops. There’s always one more thing to work on. So, it goes with idolatry of any kind. We always need more of what we think will be satisfying.

I can tell you confidently that after twelve years working in gyms, I have never, not one time, met a woman who said, “Yes, I think I look good enough. I’ve arrived.”

Over the past decade, God has revealed to me the ways that I’ve made beauty my treasure. I’ve repented and confessed the ways I’ve allowed my heart to be deceived into believing that beauty would give me fulfillment, joy, and peace that I desired. But, it’s a daily struggle; something that I must surrender to him constantly. Just as the addict must wake up every morning and beg for help from The Lord not to go back to his dependance on that substance, I too must, pray,

“God, please help me to remember that my value is not found in my appearance that true beauty is found in you alone.”

Have you ever thought about beauty in this way before?

 

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