At the beginning of May, I began to feel the familiar feelings of shame. Summer was just around the corner, and I was not ready to wear shorts or a bathing suit. My skin was pasty white, and I wasn’t anywhere near my ideal weight. So I started running, signed up for a hip-hop dance class, and stopped eating carbs.
I started to lose a few pounds. However, the way I felt about my body only improved slightly with a different diet, more exercise, and the perfect tan. Instead of feeling confident, I found myself on an emotional roller coaster. When I regularly worked out and did the things I loved I felt connected to my body. Life was good. But when I missed a day, or two, or three, I’d feel bad and looked at my body with disgust.
My problem wasn’t the image I saw in the mirror; it was my mindset. I was listening to what culture said about me instead of what God says.
Sometimes my kids struggle wishing they looked different too. My oldest daughter doesn’t like that her thumbs are different lengths, my middle girl hates her curly hair, and my son wishes he were taller.
Here’s the lie:
If I only looked like ___________________, I would be _________________.
But, the truth is:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. — Psalm 139:13-16
We are all fearfully and wonderfully made! And I believe God desperately wants us to see ourselves as He sees us.
We can start teaching our children at a very young age that they are a masterpiece, designed by a loving Father. We can speak this blessing over their life as soon as they’re conceived and reinforce it when they are born and as they grow.
TEDx speaker Chloe Howard knows what it is like to grow up wishing her body was different. She was born with a severe foot deformity. She endured numerous operations and faced astounding challenges throughout her young life. Then in 2014, Chloe was a victim of assault and bullying at her high school. Six months later, she began sharing her story and telling others what it means to stand beautiful and be proud of who they are.
She also went on to write the picture book Stand Beautiful. In it, young readers meet a giraffe along with a bunch of animals and kids that are unhappy with who they are. A wise little girl teaches them that “Different + part of who I am x God made me this way + amazing + special = just right!” By the end of their adventure together they all learn to embrace their imperfections, rock their differences, and boldly face their beautiful self.
Her book teaches our little ones to love who God created them to be, including the things they think are imperfections.
I still struggle a bit with a negative body image, but much like overcoming comparison, I can make peace with my body when I refuse the lies that culture tells me. As I do this over and over again, I will begin to see myself as God sees me, as a masterpiece.
Watch the video…
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Have you or your children struggled with body image? How can you better remind yourself and your children that you are fearfully and wonderfully made?