Does body pride fix our body image issues? I don’t think so. Here’s what I’ve learned.
It was the year I wrote my first book, Compared to Who? and the story was all over my Facebook newsfeed. The mom…in the bikini…the one with the saggy skin and stretch marks. You saw her, right?
We all saw her. It’s how we responded that’s what causes my concern.
The headline on the Huffington Post story read this way, “Mom’s ‘Flabby’ Bikini Picture Inspires Other Women to Flaunt Their Bodies With Pride.” This happens every time another woman dares to wear a bikini with a less than airbrushed-looking physique, we get excited and praise her, lauding her bravery and feeling like maybe we should feel better about our imperfect bodies too.
I get it.
They stage sit-ins of moms with imperfect bodies bearing their bellies or they do viral social media campaigns snapping pictures of cellulite and sag. We are coerced into thinking, Wow, this is the way. This will do it! We’ll beat this body image thing yet by loving our love handles and adoring our dimply bottoms.
It seems right.
I need to tell you a secret. It’s a BIG secret. All those folks encouraging you to take pride in your body, no matter what it looks like, aren’t helping you or me. They’re keeping us stuck.
I know, I know, it feels like they are. It seems like it’s a message you should “Amen!” and “I love my stretch marks and post-baby belly, too!”
If I could just love my body, than wouldn’t I stop hating it?
But, hate is not the opposite of love.
Unpacking Body Pride
You see, pride in the way our bodies look, even if it’s not pride in beauty or muscle tone, is still misplaced. Pride is never God’s answer. Never. (In fact, there’s a little something about him opposing the proud in James 4:6?)
Self love or self-loathing, they are both pride, just opposite sides of the coin. The woman who takes pride in loving her body is just the same as the woman who loathes the skin she’s in. Both are overly focused on the outside.
In fact, as a recent podcast guest mentioned, self-hate may be the biggest idol of all because we’re saying that we think God made a giant mistake when he made us.
You Don’t Have to Love Your Cellulite
It should be fantastic news to most of us that we don’t have to love cellulite in order to be free from body image issues.
In fact, most eating disorder professionals and others who work with women with body image issues are backing far away from the concept of body love. They know it’s too much of a leap to go from hating your body to loving it. Again, they aren’t opposites.
Instead, they promote body acceptance. You don’t have to make googly eyes at yourself in the mirror. In fact, you don’t have to love what you see in the mirror at all.
The Secret to Body Image Freedom
The real secret to freedom doesn’t come from the mirror. Instead, of staring in the mirror until you make peace with your physique, turn that mirror up. No, I don’t want you to stare in it and hate what you see. But, I also don’t want you to stare in it and love what you see. (Hello, Narcissism?)
The freedom comes with self-forgetfulness. Not self-love.
Freedom from bondage can never come from increasing pride. Love Jesus. Not cellulite.
The Bible doesn’t tell us we have to love our legs, it tells us we have to love Jesus and love others. Matthew talks about how we already have self-love and we are to use this as a measure of how much we need to amp up our loves for God and others. The concept of needing more self love isn’t biblical.
Your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 8:14
Body pride, like all pride, leads to destruction. It will crumple our souls and separate us from a God who loves us. Instead of trying to muster up pride in a physical body that’s fading away (we all will age some day!), why not surrender our appearance to the God who made us? Why not seek Him for why and how he made us? Why not thank him for what he’s given us, how we can use it, and tune out the messages of the world that tell us that life would be better if we just loved our bodies?
What do you think?
Have you listened to the Compared to Who? podcast yet?