Women never like their own physical body.
Why? Our bodies do not look like we desire them to look. We want our bodies to have a flat stomach, tiny butt, and no fat.
Why? That is what we believe we should look like.
Why? We have been influenced by media and other women all of our lives.
Why? We want to be accepted and loved.
Why? God created us to be human beings in his image and likeness to love and be loved.
In my life I have always been oppressed by this constant shadow cast upon my body image. My parents raised me to feel good about who I was and complimented me. However, I watched as my mom dieted to look “good” and I watched soap operas and saw thin glamorous women. As a teenager my friends went on crazy crash diets before spring break. I always played sports and never had issues with my weight. By college when I was my thinnest I became very concerned with my weight. I never had any eating or exercising disorders but I was keenly aware of how I looked or didn’t look daily. After I was married and pregnant with my first baby I breathed a sigh of relief and ate anything and everything I wanted to and said, “Just try to call me fat when I am pregnant and see what happens.” It was wonderful eating without obsessing. I gained 40 lbs. with my first pregnancy. It took me over a year to get it all off and during the 3 subsequent pregnancies I gained no more than 25 lbs.
The best time of my life physically was between my last two babies. I was nursing and had started running daily. For the first time in my life I fit into a size 5 junior’s shorts. Because I was nursing I had a huge bust and because I was running as well a tiny waist. Of course I couldn’t nurse forever. Ever since I have always exercised but as I age it’s more difficult to keep off the weight. I have to count every calorie if I want to stay the “perfect” size and honestly I am just sick of it! I want to feel good about myself but I don’t. Like many other women I degrade my body and hate parts of it. I want to be ok with me because I was made in God’s image.
The influences in a woman’s life are vast when body image is involved. We are expected to look like a Barbie doll so, many women starve, exercise, or surgically enhance themselves… for what and for whom? Why? Because we don’t believe we look like we should. Why? Because we buy into our culture’s view of the “perfect body”. Why? Because we believe the “perfect body” is attainable. Why? Because other women seem to have that body. Why? Because they are airbrushed in ads and have flaws we will never see.
How do we learn to love our bodies and live a healthy lifestyle? I am not dealing with an eating disorder. My problem is the problem of what I would guess to be the problem of 80% of women in our culture. The solution would be self-appreciation and the ability to believe that God created us in his self-image. All women are somewhere on the spectrum. Where are you? At the beginning; happy with self, in the middle; thinking about dieting and already exercising, at the end; battling an eating or exercising disorder because you hate yourself?
God, help us to lover ourselves better because we are made in your image and likeness. Help us to support and love one another and as women to stop judging one another’s bodies. Help us to understand we must embrace who we are in a healthy loving lifestyle. Please help us to understand the foundation from where this came and to shatter it with self-love instead of disdain for our body image.