A couple of years ago I was shopping and saw a onesie that said this very thing, “Does this diaper make my butt look big?” It cracked me up and broke my heart at the same time. Its blatant sarcasm depicts our society so well…the pressure to be attractive starts the moment we exit the womb.
I lived with a girl in college who, every single day, would come into the living room after getting dressed and ask us if we thought she looked fat in her outfit. Finally, being the compassionate soul that I am (not), I said, “Yes, you look fat. In fact, you look like an elephant, maybe even a hippopotamus!” I know, you are probably throwing the first object you can at the screen, but I was sick of this question. It didn't matter how I answered, she still saw herself as fat. And after that day, she never again asked for my opinion of her body.
As women, one of our biggest struggles can take over our mind by doing just one thing…looking in the mirror. When we look in the mirror we can become paralyzed to all the gifts and talents God has given us because we can't get past what we see. And somehow, we believe that being attractive on the outside will lead to marriage. We believe that if we feel beautiful and attractive when we are dating, then all of our body-image issues will disappear because we now have a man to tell us how beautiful we are every day for the rest of our lives. Right?
Here is where that idea falls apart. First, if you don't believe that God has created you and knit you together and that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, then no man can ever convince you of that just like my reply to my roommates question was never going to convince her that she wasn't fat. Secondly, if a man does temporarily convince you that you are beautiful, then you will spend your entire life, not feeling beautiful, but striving to continue to impress your man.
When I was in high school I was very thin. I was so thin that people commented regularly on how skinny I was. Now granted, I hadn't hit 18 yet, and I was playing 3 sports, so I was extremely active, but still hearing over and over that I was skinny didn't convince me that I was skinny. In my mind, it told me that I get attention when I'm skinny. So if someone didn't comment on how thin I was for a couple of weeks I would start to question myself and my body. I would skip a meal here and there or run and extra mile so that I would again be praised for my body.
Some people have issues with their body because they hear negative comments, I had issues because of the positive ones. This unhealthy cycle continued until I had taken enough mental abuse. I didn't want to continue to look in the mirror and always be thinking about every nook and cranny on my body. I wanted to look in the mirror and see what God saw. I had to go on a very personal journey with the Lord to conquer this negative mindset.
Because the media uses women's bodies to sell products, we as women have come to believe that if our bodies look like the women in magazines and on TV that men will buy what we are selling…our love. However, like we talked about yesterday, when God lays out a husband's role in marriage no where in all my studies have I found that God says, “Husbands, make sure your wife feels beautiful everyday.” And while it is nice for my husband to tell me I look attractive, if I make it my primary goal to get his attention with my body and then he doesn't notice, I leave the house feeling uglier than if I hadn't tried at all. All day long, I sit at my desk sulking because my husband doesn't think I'm pretty today.
Women, let's be honest with ourselves. Is it fair to ask a man, any man to try convince us that we are beautiful? How many times will he have to tell you that you are beautiful for you to believe it? What will happen if one day he forgets to tell you?
Let's reverse the roles. Can you imagine what pressure you would feel if your man thought his life was worthless and it was your job to convince him otherwise? Do you want to put this kind of pressure on your man? This isn't a mindset a spouse can change. Only God who created us can handle this job.
I encourage you today to think about your body. What do you say about it to yourself and to others? Are you looking to other people to confirm what you believe? Are you asking others to convince you that what you believe isn't true? How are you allowing God to speak into this issue? What verses of truth are you clinging to?
Today, let's start with one of my favorite passages. Psalm 139:13-18 (NIV, emphasis added)
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.