My Dear Friend:
Welcome to the majority. You and I are symbols of the masses: the ninety-nine or so percent of women who will never be publicly recognized for the way we look in our tankinis.
You probably already know the data. But, it’s hard to internalize and accept as truth. Only one percent of women around the world meet our culture’s crazy standard of beauty. They have the legs that start at their neck and then just the right amount of space in between their thighs. Their eyes don’t crinkle up when they smile and they are genetically predisposed to not have that bulge of flesh between their bra strap and arm pit. These traits make them a whole lot easier to air brush than, say, you or me…
So, why do we still stress over the way those panels of lycra smooth our silhouettes? Why can’t we proudly accept our position as a part of the ruling party of women of average build and sport our swimsuits without care? Why would we rather not be a part of this majority?
Because we don’t want to be normal. We want to be special.
Our hearts long to be set apart, unique, affirmed for the ways we aren’t just another girl in the crowd.
Just like Eve grabbed and tasted the fruit, forsaking all the peace and wonderment of the comforts God had already provided, we believe the tempter who offers us more… if we could only look better.
And, we buy the lie.
We accept that we could be more, do more, have more . . .
If we only. . . weighed less, jiggled less, or looked better wearing less.
My dear friend, matching the magazine cover’s definition of beauty is not what will set you apart from the majority.
You will be no more special when you fit back into those high school jeans than you are right now, today. You will be no more loved, accepted, or approved of when you reach that goal weight, sculpt those six pack abs, or get that size eight zipped up the back than you are at this very second.
Why? Because God tells you there is nothing you can do to earn more of his love. Nor is there anything you can do to diminish it. It’s a love that is completely unfathomable to our sin nature that prompts us to respond conditionally.
You see there’s a truth about our hearts that most of us don’t want to acknowledge: It lies. Our hearts deceive us into believing that salvation comes when you we effortlessly fit into a single digit size.
But, it’s not true.
Beauty is not where salvation is found.
Beauty is not where acceptance is found.
Beauty is not where freedom is found.
All of what we long for is found only in the one who loves us beyond (what we) measure. Freedom is not in the right diet or fitness regiment. It is found in a savior who shed his blood so that we may be free from this body shame that plagues us every swimsuit season.
I don’t want to pep you up with platitudes about God loving you just the way you are. Nor do I want to brazenly tell you to not care about how your body looks. Rather, I want to encourage you to get your eyes off of the mirror. True freedom is not in self-acceptance. True freedom is in self-forgetfulness.
Wear that swimsuit without shame not because you’ve decided to love your body, but because you’ve decided to love your savior and you know that the purpose he has for you supersedes winning the “hottest body on the beach” contest.
Follow him with a reckless abandonment of the temptation to prove your value through physical beauty. And, you will be free.
Heather, a sojourner on the road to body image freedom
This post, “I think I know why you hate wearing a swimsuit” was originally published in June of 2014.