Being born and raised in Florida, I was quite accustomed to beautiful beaches and lovely landscaping. But, it was my first trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming that totally transformed my conception of beauty. I was with my youth group and remember falling asleep somewhere in the flatlands. When I awoke, our car was entering the foothills of the Grand Tetons. The beauty of this place totally overwhelmed me. One of my first thoughts was, How could anyone see this place and not believe in a Creator? The contrast between this place and where I lived each day was startling. Your journey into body freedom is just as dramatic. For most of your life you have been existing in some degree of body loathing. To journey to the place where you proclaim; I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made! (Psalm 139:14) will be a total contrast.
Learning to genuinely like yourself is possible. In fact, the best foundation for changing something you don't like about your body that you don't like is accomplished when you learn to like yourself first. Most women get it backwards. They think If I can only change this one thing about my body, then I can feel okay about myself. The problem is, even after you lose weight, get the nose job, get breast implants; the body hate doesn't go away. You often start obsessing over something else.
How do you journey from body-hate to body-acceptance? The first step is recognizing the destructive power disliking your body has in your life. Ask yourself; Do I avoid certain activities (such as wearing shorts, bathing suit, etc.) because I am ashamed of my body? Think about how much money you spend on cosmetics, cosmetic surgery, personal trainer, exercise equipment, etc. Are you afraid to go to the grocery store without make-up? How many diets have you been on in the last year? Do you have a mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder? The solution isn't found in fixing your body, it is found in fixing your mind.
Transforming your mind is the key to overcoming a negative body image. Rather than a body makeover, you need a mind makeover. I Corinthians 2:6-7 warns against listening to the wisdom of this age, which is coming to nothing, and staying focused on God's secret wisdom. The best way to fight against negative body image is to listen to what God's word says about our bodies. We fight the world's wisdom by having our minds set on God's secret wisdom. The wisdom of this age says that you are not worthy unless you look like you are 23 and have large, perky breasts and no body fat. This is not very wise when you consider that our bodies weren't created to have that shape, and most of us eventually live past the age of 23. God tells you that you can have peace in your soul no matter what your body looks like. Romans 12:1,2 says that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. We need to confront the lies that bombard us every day in our culture, through the media, and most importantly in our own minds.
Once you get your mind focused on the truth, your feelings about your body will change. When you don't like your body, thoughts and feelings of contempt pour over you. You look down at your stomach in the shower and your whole being cringes in shame. You can become free of your despair. You can live in confidence. When you keep your mind on thoughts from God's word, accept God's values, and receive God's help, your whole emotional well-being can change as a result. Here are 10 steps to a healthy body image.
- Accept that you are not perfect. Nobody has the perfect body. Even Cindy Crawfords photographs are altered. No body is perfect, but every body is beautiful.
- Take inventory of your mind. What you keep in your mind is the most important factor in maintaining a healthy body image. You need to take every thought captive in order to attain the emotional, psychological, and spiritual peace you are seeking.
- Enjoy your senses and celebrate the way your body feels. Rest is vital to emotional, spiritual and physical wellness. When you take time to rest, literally stop and smell the roses, celebrate that you can walk around your neighborhood; you start to appreciate your body in a healthy way.
- Recognize negative feelings and deal with them daily. Don't let negative feelings slide, or they will bill build up to an endless number of negative feelings and thoughts. Stop yourself right then and there. Examine the feeling, tell God about the feeling, journal about it, and wrestle wit the truth about it.
- Enlist an accountability partner. Find a prayer partner whom you can call at a particularly bad time. Commit together to encourage one another to stay on the journey to body acceptance.
- Don't judge how others look. When you are less critical of others, you will be less critical of yourself. Think of something positive about he actress on television who has aged since you saw her last.
- Don't receive criticism about how you look from others. Make up your mind to resist the negative comments of husbands, mothers, teachers, children, best friend, etc. Ask God to help you stay focused on the truth.
- Write yourself a letter. Write a letter to yourself explaining the truth about your body from God's perspective. Keep the letter and read it every time you feel negative feelings about your body.
- Make an effort to care for your body every day. Think about your diet, exercise, rest programs. Present yourself to the world looking the best you can and be thankful for your unique appearance.
You can learn to enjoy the body you live in!