Summer’s here! Check out Wendy’s thoughts on summer body envy in today’s post, especially if you need a little humor to lighten your day!
The beach is the worst place for it.
Out there enjoying the sun and surf are hundreds of people in swimsuits. The ones that bother me the most are not the people who are a bit overweight. After all, where is it written, “Thou shalt have a flat stomach before donning a swimsuit”?” No, the ones that bug me are the young, thin, large-busted women.
There are no “Thou shalt nots” about having the right body for a swim suit. But God does say, “Thou shalt not covet.” Then the Bible gives a whole list of things we are not to let ourselves get jealous of. The most pertinent one for this blog is found in the King James Version when it says, “Do not covet your neighbor’s donkey,” except the King James uses a more colorful three-letter word that starts with an A. Translated for the twenty-first century: “Don’t covet that woman’s rear end.” You get the point.
What makes you jealous when you see the young woman at the beach? Her waistline . . . bust line . . . legs . . . straight teeth . . . thick hair? Pick your poison.
My hang-up? I can hook on an A-cup bra and not fill it up. When I do push-ups in aerobics class and the instructor says, “Get your chest to the floor,” I have to work three times harder than anyone else. And those calculations for finding your bra size? “First measure under your breasts and then add five inches. This is your band size. Next measure the fullest part of your bust. Subtract the first number from the second. If the answer is four, you are a D-cup. If the answer is three, you are a C-cup,” and so on.
When I do the math, I get a negative number.
There’s probably some part of your body that you’ve never been satisfied with. Were you emotionally wounded as a teen by people who said you didn’t measure up? Are attacks still coming? You can’t even go to the grocery store without seeing a slick magazine with a cover model flaunting the body you’ll never have. Every time you use a search engine, thumbnail images tempt you to click on a photo and see how good a celebrity looks in her swimsuit. Even TV commercials for beauty products can reopen a wound.
So I keep hearing I don’t measure up, and I keep seething when I see a woman who looks better than I do. When I’m jealous of that woman, it poisons our relationship.
I can’t let it go. It’s one thing to say, “Wow, she has such lovely thick hair.” If I could let it go at that, there would be no problem. But I dwell on it and convince myself that what I have isn’t good enough. That’s when desire turns to resentment and begins to fester. And though I don’t hate the other woman, it will affect our relationship. If only for a moment, envy crowds out love.
I’m focusing on the tenth commandment, “Thou shalt not covet,” but all the commandments have a way of pointing back to Number 1, “Have no other gods before me, says the Lord.” I wish my idols were made of stone, and I could have a ceremony on the beach and smash the idols on the nearest pier. But my false gods are not statues made with hands. The goddess I worship is made of flesh and blood and stares back at me from the mirror when I brush my teeth in the morning. All this jealousy really means I’m worshipping myself.
Where’s the gospel in all this? Because of Jesus’ death, God is ready to forgive us for breaking commandments. We are not left to battle alone. Of course, it may not be a quick fix. Sometimes the Holy Spirit prefers that we wrestle. The struggle gives us the strength to face the next time we’re at the beach.
And if a woman with a fabulous figure is there on the sand, be assured that no matter how perfect her body seems, she is fighting the same battle you are. She’s unsatisfied with some part of her body. Watch her. She’s looking at you or some other woman, and she has that look in her eye that says, “If only I had a body like hers.” Go encourage her. Tell her she’s made in the image of God. And tell her to remember the golden rule: “Don’t covet your neighbor’s donkey.”
Wendy Herrmann Smith lives in Greenville SC with her husband and two kids – a son she got after seventeen hours of labor and a C-section and a daughter adopted from China after a fourteen-hour flight and a lot of paperwork. She writes adult Bible study material for her denomination and blogs at www.beautybattlefield.blogspot.com. Read Wendy’s posts here.