My middle son called out for me to come quickly. “Mom, the light’s blinking in here.”
Dying light bulbs don’t consitute an emergency in my mind, so a few minutes later I went to investigate the situation.
There were no fixture issues of any kind. Instead what I found was a four-year-old boy blinking. Over and again he shut his eyes and opened them. His assessment, “Mom, the lights are going on and off.”
He was right, the lights flickered on and off as he opened and shut his eyes repeatedly. But, it wasn’t the lightbulb’s fault. Nothing needed to be fixed. Instead, my son’s perception of the problem needed to be challenged. He needed to be informed that the problem rooted in his actions, not in that light fixture.
I believe the same thing happens with our body image.
Because the truth is, no matter how many people post “So pretty” when I update a social media photo, no matter how many times my husband says, “You look great” and no matter how many times a random stranger stops to comment on my appearance–it makes little difference…
Because sometimes our brains don’t tell our hearts the truth. That’s where we struggle.
I don’t know the depths of your body image bondage. I don’t know if you battle disordered eating, self-loathing, a weight issue, a skin issue, or some other kind of perceived physical obstacle. But, I do know one thing: in this battle it doesn’t really matter what you look like on the outside. Body image issues are no respecter of persons.
Women with all body types struggle with body image issues.
It’s a myth that we refuse to believe is false. Our brains tell us that we’d not struggle if we looked like HER. Yet that’s not the way the demon of body image bondage operates.
It’s not only those who fail to meet a certain cultural standard of beauty who struggle. Body image challenges impact both women who are rail thin and women who have some considerable weight to lose. It doesn’t matter if you’ve always been the overlooked one, the misfit, the put together one or the beauty queen. The lies screaming at our souls are exactly the same.
A publisher recently turned down my book because they said I was too pretty and successful to know about body image issues. What????
I’ve battled my weight since I was in middle school. Acne and I had an all out war (that I’m not sure I won) during my twenties. Through three of four pregnancies I obsessed over the way the number on the scale crept higher and higher. I’m sorry. It’s just not true. I do understand the struggle… (As do many women who actually define physical beauty for our culture by posing for magazine covers…Models and celebrity women have written ad nauseum on their appearance and body image struggles.)
The fallacy I want us to uncover today is this: We believe that the way we actually look on the outside plays a role in this battle. It doesn’t.
That’s why we must find a different way to fight. Our tendency is to believe that our bodies are what hold us back. If we could just lose that weight, get that surgery, clear up that skin, then we’d feel confident–then we would fnd freedom from these body image struggles.
But this is a linear view of the issue. It’s one that says body image only impacts women on this side of the spectrum and those on the other side of an “average” ticker in the middle of a long straight line are struggle-free. It focuses on the ways we are physically different and ignores the ways that all women are exactly the same. We all crave acceptance. We all just want to be loved. We all want to be affirmed…
And culture tells us that has to do with flawless skin and thin thighs.
Thin women have eating disorders. Beautiful women get plastic surgery. Already fit women spend all day in the gym. Your actual body doesn’t have anything to do with your body image struggles.
This is about your heart.
Here’s what I hope you’ll internalize and pray about:
1) If you think freedom will come when you “look like here”…you are going to be let down. Our body image struggles are wrestling matches that happen in our hearts. Ask God to reveal what questions your heart really wants to answer by achieving a different look or size?
2) But, the good news is this: the body image freedom you seek is available and easier to attain than you think. Finding body image freedom doesn’t require you to start that next diet, buy that expensive skin care product, begin a new exercise program, or schedule that surgery. It’s only going to require you to think about what you really believe about beauty.