I get an email devotion from Proverbs 31 ministries everyday and today the writer of the devotion had a very interesting personal blog. I especially liked this post on body image and can surely relate to her!
We have all heard the phrase that things are “for the birds” (for example, dieting is for the birds). But I’ve coined a new phrase of my own – swimsuits are for the fishes! I mean really, the swimsuits that are in stores today are not made for real people. If you want to get your mind off of your problems, just go bathing suit shopping, and soon you will be so depressed about your body image that you forget everything else!
Last week I determined that since summer was here, that I had to give in and try to find a new bathing suit. I headed to the mall with a good attitude and browsed through all the colorful suits hanging on dozens of racks. I filled up my arms with lots of choices and marched towards the dressing room. About 37 bathing suits later, I left the dressing room with a pout on my face and headed to the next store. After trying at least 25 more bathing suits in that store, I succumbed to defeat, and went home.
Why is it that apparel companies think everyone in America weighs 100 pounds or less, and that we all want our swimsuit bottoms to sit lower on our pelvis than normal underwear? Seriously, it’s inappropriate for even tiny waisted teenagers to wear these swimsuits, and certainly not appropriate for grown women! Can’t they find a happy medium between itsy–bitsy-teeny-weeny-yellow-polkadot-bikinis and “granny” swim suits? Does the apparel industry understand that grown women want to be covered up, but not so much that we look like we are a throwback from a Doris Day movie?
Oh well – I guess I can’t change the industry, but I can complain! A few days later, I did find a few swimsuits that I could live with (as long as I didn’t look at them in the three-way mirror). But as I thought about my pursuit for the perfect swimsuit that would fit me perfectly and hide all of my flaws, I remembered something important. We can’t always change things about ourselves that we don’t like, but we can like ourselves for who we are and how God made us.
Now if there are things we can do to improve our image and self esteem, such as eating healthier, lose a few pounds for health’s sake, or change that bright orange nail polish to a summer pink, then by means, do it! But if there are things we can’t change, then we need to make a conscious choice to love ourselves no matter what we look like in a swimsuit. If you are like me, I would prefer to focus on having fun and spending time with my kids at the pool or the beach, instead of obsessing over what everyone might be looking at that I refused to look at in the three-way mirror!
Two great truths I came across in God’s Word about self-image came to mind:
1) Galatians 6:4 Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life in mind.(The Message)
– in simple terms – worry about what we are doing for God, and not what the mirror is doing for us! Whether or not the mirror is our friend is beside the point – God does not want us to compare ourselves to others, or beat ourselves up for our flaws.
2) 1 Samuel 16:7 – “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (NIV)
– God is not worried about what we look out on the outside, He only cares about the inside! Let’s spend our time trying to dress up our hearts, instead of just our bodies.
I am still sticking to the fact that swimsuits are for the fishes, but nonetheless, I plan on enjoying some sun in the fun with my family and friends this summer, and try not to let my mind be overtaken by self defeating thoughts. God loves me as I am, and that is enough for me! God loves you just as you are, and that should be enough too!