My Body Shame Hurts Them (& Me)

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So I was talking to my eldest daughter Sophie in the doctor’s office. She had graciously taken me because I’d been stung by a weird thing called a puss moth (ouch). I had been weighed as a part of the visit, and the number really bothered me.

So I said it. To her. All these terrible words about myself.

And I saw her disappointment. Because if I’m so harsh on myself this way, then maybe she thinks I think the same way about everyone else, including her.

She is beautiful, as is my daughter Julia, and yet, my own body shaming is hurting them, perhaps worrying them, making them feel judged, though that is certainly not my intention.

The truth is I need to make a decision.

To love myself as I am right now. Today.

Because Jesus loves me as I am.

And my girls need to see me shaking hands with the woman I see in the mirror.

It’s only our culture’s impossible standards that are hollering shame my way. I have been utterly disobedient, conforming to its dictates like a lemming, never pushing back, and simply believing that only one type of body is worth having. Instead of renewing my mind a la Romans 12, I have allowed People magazine to influence the way I think about myself.

The truth is, this body enables me to love my children and husband. It walks me places, places where I speak and pray for people and share God’s amazing story. My eyes take in beauty. My hands type these words. My ears hear the sound of people’s stories and songs of worship. I’m sure my spleen is doing something really cool too.

I am alive. I am stewarding my body and mind and soul. I am loving the people God has placed in my life. And I am LOVED as I am right now.

I do not think Jesus spent one moment worrying about body image. So why do we? Why do we take precious time away from kingdom pursuits to bend under the weight of cultural expectations? Why do we spend our interior lives shaming ourselves, berating our bodies, and staying perennially distracted?

I believe the enemy of our souls wants nothing more than for us to stay preoccupied with our perceived lack of perfection in this area. He wants us to consume ourselves with it. Because if we do, we stop being about the kingdom of God and concentrate more on the kingdom of ourselves.

Our bodies will decay. We will grow old. We cannot reverse time, no matter how much the plastic surgeons tell us otherwise.

But we always have the opportunity to expand our souls, to talk kindly to ourselves. And if we can’t make peace with the body God gave us for our sake, perhaps it’s time to take a look at the people in our lives who love us and deeply hurt when we shame ourselves. Let’s do it for them.

Because the world needs men and women who love themselves as Jesus loves them. It needs people who buck against this world system of youth and perfection as measures of worth. It needs beautiful souls, beautiful wisdom, people who have made peace with their bodies.

In eternity, it flat out won’t matter how pretty or handsome or thin we were on earth. What will matter is how obediently and joyfully we lived our lives.

So, Sophie and Julia, please accept my heartfelt apology for shaming myself. It was and is wrong. By God’s grace, I am choosing to make peace with my reflection because I want to spare you the pain of living under that tyranny. You are beautiful girls with beautiful souls, ready to embark on a world that is deeply confused about what true beauty is.

{Aside: I could lose a few pounds, but I can honestly say I am doing all the right things, exercising every day, eating right. No need to send me emails about potions and products and programs and diets and oils and shakes.}

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