Accepting my body – our bodies – is challenging. We’ve been conditioned to think of our bodies as too big, too heavy, and too fat to be likable.
Hate at First Sight
The first time I considered accepting my body “as is” at well above the Ideal Weight for my height, I couldn’t imagine anyone liking it. All I could see was how it would be better if it were different. Certain areas of my body repulsed me, so I assumed anyone who noticed would be repulsed, too. I tried to camouflage it.
A Second Look
I took the challenge to find something about my body that I liked. So I stared at myself in the mirror, this time with kindness. (Imagine assessing ourselves with the grace we extend to others!) I realized that among my many flaws were nice features. For example, someone had once complimented me on my shapely ankles. Someone else had said I had nice hands. I’m sure the women who said these things didn’t realize the lasting power of their comments.
Who’s Opinion Matters?
Accepting my body was/is difficult because I grew up hearing comments about weight. “She’s gotten so heavy; she’s really let herself go.” Or, “Her face is so pretty; too bad she’s so fat.” Or, “She has no idea how she looks”, and “She’s sure getting hippy.”
What’s more, I’ve absorbed the opinions of institutions that don’t care about real people like me, except as a consumer. Hollywood, the media, cosmetic companies, and the weight loss industry – they all condition us to equate beauty with a thin, shapely, unblemished, and youthful body. Who can match this ideal? If we don’t, are we unattractive? Unacceptable?
What’s a Body to Do?
Scripture shows a different picture of who we are, no matter how much we weigh. God created us, loves us, and wants the best for us. He came for sinners like us – exactly as we are right now.
Our bodies include a specific set of genes, which means we’re probably shaped like a grandparent. People look on the outside, but God looks inside our hearts. He’s acquainted with our personal histories and the factors that have shaped us. Many of us have gone through years of yo-yo dieting. But that was then; this is now. We can learn to value ourselves the way God does.
Accepting my body – and our bodies – is the first step to nurturing ourselves.
January 27, 2015