Today is the final installment in the series “Real Women. Real Stories.” Each of the women featured in the past two weeks took part in the making of the video trailer for the book, Compared to Who? Each has a real story of battling lies about their value and worth and how that connected to their physical appearance. But, we also hope each story will offer hope to any other women who hear or have heard the same lies. Here’s Leah’s story.
Name: Leah Simmons
My Sign Says: FAT
When I first heard this lie was:
I first heard this lie in the 4th grade. I was homeschooled at the time and attending homeschool “classes” on Fridays where we got to meet and have fun with other homeschool kiddos. There was wood working, home making, stain glass, history, and theatre–TONS of different classes to take! It was an amazing opportunity to learn new things and make great friends and still to this day I have fond memories of those Friday afternoons. One year I even took a class all about American Girl dolls (I think the hope was to get us interested in reading the books but rather it just fueled my addiction for those expensive American Girl dolls! LOL!).
I was in a class one Friday when us little girls were sitting around talking about clothes and the stores we shopped at. I remember very specifically chiming into the conversation about which was my favorite store (at the time I was all about the Limited Too–Do those still exist?) and very quickly a new, mean little girl replied and said, “Oh, you shop there? I didn’t think any of those clothes would fit you.”
Oh, NO she didn’t. But she absolutely did. That conversation then led to this little girl asking how old I was and then commenting on how big I was for my age and how I must have been lied to by my parents about my birthday because SURELY a girl my size was not actually in the 4th grade.
Those words have stuck with me for my entire life. I have since forgiven that little girl, however, her words still sink deep. Up until that point I hadn’t really thought about my weight but that conversation then lead me to thinking about how ALL my clothes fit. It wasn’t about how cute they were or how much pink and sparkles I could wear but instead: Did it cover my fat? How big WAS I? Was I growing too fast? Who was looking at me? Was it possible to lose weight if I just stopped eating?
The eating issues began around the 6th grade with the constant pressure to be thinner gnawing at the back of my mind. I went on to struggle with bulimia and anorexia up until my sophomore year of college. Those same issues then led into an addiction to pornography and some extremely unhealthy relationships that were fueled by my desire to be physically desired. Body image issues are a real thing and I wish them on no one. I pray for the strength to one day be able to truly find my entire worth in my Savior’s love, not in what I look like.
When I most often hear it now:
I hear it most often now when I am dealing with comparison to friends of mine who I feel are more skinny than I am, or when I am trying clothes on, or when I am looking at social media “transformations” but especially when I think of the other women that my husband might be looking at.
What I do when I look in the mirror and hear the lie:
Most of the time, I believe it. I will say something about it to hear affirmation from my husband, but the funny thing is, when he does affirm me in those moments, it is really hard for me to believe him. The enemy has so wrapped my head around the fact that I have to look a certain way, be a certain waist size, have the nicest and flattest stomach, and the list goes on and on, that I really do struggle to remember God’s love of me in my broken state.
As I grow in Christ, however, I find myself more and more in a sweet spot of God’s grace, where nothing can stop me from feeling accepted and loved by my great God, and in those moments I am reminded of the Gospel news that Jesus has saved me from my sin of comparison and that if I confess and repent of it, I can be brought back to life out and live in my new body and new mind.
Nothing gives me more hope than knowing that one day, I will be in Heaven with Jesus and there will be no comparison anymore (and that will be the actual and final legitimization of the question: Compared to Who?), there will be no sin, there will be no lacking anything.
Everything I want, everything I desire and long for. . . My fulfillment, my joy, my acceptance, my perfection. . .Will be found in Him whose presence I will be in forever and ever.
What I pray for women who share the same struggle I do:
I pray that the women who struggle with the lie, those who question God’s love for them, and those who struggle with the false belief that we have to be a certain way to be loved… And that really is all of us… I pray that we lean into the Gospel and press on in our new lives with Christ, that we may make it to the day where we can drop our comparisons, our struggles, our sin… All the while, giving him glory for bringing us to our suffering and for the grand promise that he will one day bring us home.