That dress is sooo cute.
I bring the hanger to my chin to check the length. Good. Dressing room, here I come!
I slip it on and look at the long reflective glass.
Wow. This dress is amazing. Have I lost weight?
And, then I see it. The mirror. It’s tilted. Tilted down, at just a tiny bit of an angle. I look taller and thinner all at once. It’s just an illusion.
Any shopper knows that mirror angles matter. . What if tilting the mirror was the answer to all of your body image problems?
No, I don’t mean adjusting it so you look ten pounds slimmer. Deception never cures anything permanently.
Instead, the key to body image freedom is tilting your mirror up–so much so that maybe you don’t see your reflection–at all.
Allow me to explain with these three good reasons to tilt your mirror:
Reason 1: Your Body Image and the Mirror Rarely Harmonize. The truth is that the way you FEEL about your body and the way you ACTUALLY look are two entirely different realities. Body dysmorphic disorder is characterized by not having an accurate view of your body. No amount of staring in the mirror looking at yourself will change that.
As someone who’s suffered from this condition, I am amazed to look at photographs of me from ten, fifteen or twenty years ago when I thought I was “fat.” The woman I see in those photos was small. I look at the thighs I once despised and the arms I hated and I see how skewed my perception of my own body once was.
Yes, there are some “creative” types (I want to say loons, but that sounds too derogatory) who say just stare in the mirror until you love what you see. But, if you actually have a body image struggle, no amount of staring will cure it. So, you might as well stop gazing at your own image and find a better one to reflect.
Reason 2: Your Appearance Doesn’t Matter as Much as You Think it Does. This hard truth was one I refused to accept, but now I see my folly. I was the “never-leave-the-house-without-make-up” woman who spent an hour finding just the right outfit for church and who was no stranger to tears over bad hair days or skin breakouts.
I thought that when people saw me, they just saw my outsides. I believed that appearance was of supreme importance.
Last summer I participated in a make-up free selfie challenge. I posted a picture of myself without make-up on the internet! The news story got picked up by Yahoo! and thus, people around the globe saw me sans foundation, mascara and lip liner. Yikes.
Can I tell you that little experiment changed me? I’ve left the house without make-u p many times sense then. I’ve realized that even if I do see someone I know when I’m out, that they don’t really think anything of it. Rather those who know me, those who love me, see me as a whole package–body, mind, emotions, and spirit. I tend to objectify myself–see myself only from the outside. But, friends and family members did just the opposite.
Tilting the mirror up promotes thinking above and beyond your reflection. Romans 8:6 says, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace.” Peace, ahhh. . . That comes not from loving your own reflection (the flesh) but from setting you mind on the spirit.
Reason 3: Self-Esteem Will Let You Down. Self-esteem preaches we need to love our bodies. We’ll find freedom when we love whatever we’ve got–no matter what it looks like. I can’t think of anything more ridiculous.
Here’s a quick Bible lesson. Adam and Eve lived naked in this idyllic garden until Eve ate an unidentified fruit (commonly referred to as an apple) and gave some to Adam. At this point, sin entered the world and Adam and Eve had to go to Old Navy for fig leaf jeans. Had our world stayed perfect and sin free, then, who knows, perhaps we’d all still be walking around in our birthday suits. But, it did not.
Now, our bodies are subject to this fallen world. They are subject to sin and they bear the marks of it. I’m sure you’d agree it would be silly to love diseases or to love cruelty. In just the same way, it’s silly to love the effects of the Fall on our bodies–be they acne’s cars, cellulite, or infections.
You don’t have to love cellulite, you just have to love Jesus.
You don’t have to spend more time liking what you see in the mirror –the baby weight that’s still hanging on, the scars from that surgery, the cellulite (that 91% of women have thanks to genetics alone). You just have to love Jesus.
So, take your mirror and recognize it’s usefulness for alerting you when your shirt is inside out or your hair is sticking straight up, but then tilt it up. Tilt it so you can’t see yourself. Tilt it until your image disappears altogether. See a different image there. See the image of your Savior, above. The one who loves you, love handles and all . . .the one who died for you, without regard to dress size . . . and, the one who doesn’t compare you to a magazine cover or that pretty girl at the gym.
Tilt it up and reflect Him.
Be an ambassador of His love.
Be a reflection of His beauty.
Be a prism for His light to shine through.
Meditate on His image, not your own and you will find freedom.