Body Image and Media: Is a Silent Killer Hiding at Your Salon

“I’ll never get a pedicure again.”

That’s what I exclaimed the first time I watched an evening news show’s segment featuring women who had their feet amputated after a cuticle scrub with an unsterilized tool. Gross.

But, in my twenty years or so of frequenting salons, I think there is something at almost every salon–of any kind– that is far more dangerous than the fungus hidden in the bottom of the pedicure bowl.

It’s a subtle, silent killer. Not of our bodies, but of our souls. And, it lurks in the magazine basket or on the big screen hanging on the wall.

Allow me to explain . . .

Beauty Salon Joy Killer

My hair color dulls, my split ends get out of control, and so, I head to my favorite hair salon.

There, I meet my hairdresser, Kara. You should know that she is a magician with a straightening iron for a wand. (No one can take my hair from it’s naturally unruly state to smooth, shiny and sleek in two hours or less. It’s amazing.)

Kara and I chat as she covers my head in aluminum foil. I look ridiculous, but our conversation is light and encouraging. Soon it’s time to move to the drier.

I settle in and look down. Out of the corner of my eye what do I see? This headline, “How She Lost Fifteen Pounds in Three Days Without Dieting!”

And, I’m intrigued.

Long before the timer dings, I’ve not only devoured that article but the content on most every other page: the photo-shopped women’s bodies, the pictures of the clothes and make-up I “need,” the stories on the hottest celebrity romances.

And, within fifteen minutes, I (subconsciously) become dissatisfied with my life.

body image and media Compared to Who?I flood with nagging thoughts about being overweight (no thigh gap here), out of style (in my boot cut jeans), and stuck in a monotonous life (with no red carpets in sight).

I struggle not to believe the constant pounding of these lies anyway. But, willingly subjecting myself to their truths–even for a few minutes while I get my hair or nails done–puts a strain on my soul.

One thousand tiny daggers stab at my heart to remind me of ways I’m not good enough, according to our culture’s standards. With each flip of a page the truth about who I am in Christ grows dimmer.

Media is a subtle teacher

There’s something we often fail to recognize. We are all students of life and media is one of our teachers.

The shows we watch, the books we read, the movies we digest…they are all teaching us about our world. If you have children, you know this first hand. It’s easy to watch young ones absorb content and then incorporate it into their lives. My boys watch a super hero fight scene and five minutes later run upstairs and act it out. We know how to imitate. No one had to teach us that.

So, when Christian friends deceive themselves into believing that they have this amazing ability to separate the good messages from the bad and, therefore, the media they consume “doesn’t affect them,” I’m deeply saddened.

It’s a lie of the enemy.

We constantly battle for our soul’s health. Every choice we make, each day either takes us one step closer to looking like Jesus or one step further away.

It’s not a game, it’s a war. 

I’ve never met a woman who consumed a lot of romance novels (or movies for that matter) who had a satisfying marriage.

I’ve never met a woman who consumed a lot of Shape magazine and frequently shopped the Victoria’s Secret catalog who was satisfied with the way she looked.

Neither have I ever met a woman who watched television shows filled with sexual innuendo, lust, and adultery who had a really healthy perspective on God’s design for relationships.

Conversely, I’ve also never met a woman who avoided trash media in favor of pursuing the things of God who struggled the way I did with body image, lust, consumerism, and insecurity.

You see, I too thought Jesus had me in a protective bubble so I could consume whatever I wanted while still discerning the truth. But, it wasn’t true.

In my twenties I went home on my lunch break to watch soap operas (because I “found the plot lines amusing.”). I subscribed to a dozen magazines. I filled the empty space in my house with the background noise of sex-filled sitcoms. All in the name of, “It’s just entertainment. I’m a Christian I can separate right from wrong.”

I was the diabetic feasting on sugary treats all day long while saying: It doesn’t affect me because in my brain, I know that carrots are healthier than these donuts. I have it straight in my head and that’s what matters.

Does body image and media we consume connect? Do articles like this feed our comparison habit or help break it? (Hint: It's not option #2)

Does consuming magazine articles like this feed our comparison habit or help break it? (Hint: It’s not option #2)

Confidence Requires Wise Choices

As we bond together in this community of women who want to really grow in Christ-centered confidence and as we strive towards a deeply penetrating understanding of who Jesus is and how much he loves us, I want to challenge you to rethink your media. Not because I want to be some sort of legalist but because I care about you finding freedom. 

I realize this is a sensitive subject for some, maybe most of us. But, I’m also concerned that we treat it SO lightly. I’m not trying to condemn anyone, rather instead to encourage you to raise your standards and walk out of the darkness into his glorious light.

We are called to a process of sanctification. Consuming the same media junk, laughing at comedic filth, endorsing and accepting media that contradicts God’s word is unhelpful and contrary to what God has called us to.

If you are struggling with a drive to look better, buy more, do more, have more, succeed, or have a more exciting life, pray about taking a media fast. Spend the time that you would spend reading or watching culture’s messages and instead spend that time listening to God’s word or reading it. See how your struggle changes at the end of just one week (or even a few days) and then pray about ways you should alter your habits.

Body image and media. There is a connection. It’s not the cure, but it matters.

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Psalms 119:37

7 Comments
  • Trisha Mugo
    August 18, 2014

    Great, thought-provoking post.

  • Sara Moore
    August 19, 2014

    Exactly why I stopped getting a certain southern ladies magazine and gave up certain tv shows on crashing kitchens, bathrooms, and yards… No one is immune, the heart is deceitful, who can know it?
    Thanks for “speaking” up!
    Grace and peace,
    Sara

  • Jenny
    May 11, 2016

    Oh man. Yes! There are certain media (social, TV, magazines,etc.) that I avoid completely because of how it can affect me.

    • Heather Creekmore
      May 14, 2016

      Sound practice, Jenny! I wish more women could see how it affects us! Just a “little poison” is enough to kill ya! Thanks for chiming in! 🙂

  • Dorothy
    July 29, 2016

    Thank you! I have been thinking along this same vein recently…why do so many Christians accept and celebrate the trash in our media driven world? I feel like I’m the only one making concours choices to NOT watch or read certain things. Thanks for this post.

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