The Airbrushed Bombshell: Brushing Back Body Image Issues

three happy women in bathing suits taking a selfie on the beach and not worried about body image issues

As I look through my Instagram feed, I’m greeted with numerous pictures of beach attire including the dreaded bathing suits.

Every year or so, we ladies go on the adventure of finding the perfect swimsuit to accentuate our bodies. Maybe before the big shopping adventure, you go on that New Year’s resolution diet of low carbs and water, or maybe you have been going to the gym six times a week in anticipation of this forthcoming season. Maybe you are like me and getting close to 40 and don’t feel comfortable in your skin, much less with your skin showing for the entire world to see.

Body Image Issues: Focused on the Imperfections

When I gaze into that mirror, the first thing I notice are the places where my skin has imperfections, the greying hair, the C-section scar that graces my abdomen, and the scars along my neck and chest from recent surgeries. I see the thighs that seem to not get toned no matter how many squats I do and the saggy behind that follows me.

At what point will I be happy with the image of my own body?

Being called fat as a child stuck with me. I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember not being the skinny kid in the later years of elementary school into middle school. I began to get a grasp on my body in high school. Twice-a-day workouts as an athlete allowed me to eat what I wanted: Godiva ice cream and cake for breakfast washed down by a Mountain Dew. (Gosh, I wish I was making that up). Breakfast of champions.

Eventually, that and the egg bagels caught up with me when the off-season came. The weight came on quickly, along with some health issues. I had to learn healthy eating habits and adequate exercise to be healthy.

The Grass Is Always Greener: Learning to Love Who You AreWhen Do We Stop Focusing On What the World Thinks of Us?

As women, we spend so much time, effort, energy, and resources to look good according to the world’s view. When do we stop caring what the world thinks and start rejoicing with how God thinks?

In her book, The 40-Day Body Image Workbook: Hope for Christian Women Who’ve Tried Everything, author Heather Creekmore suggests “…that healing our body image issues is more about correcting our theology than correcting our biology.” Her workbook of ideas discusses how we view ourselves and our bodies should be aligned with God.

We find “…this treasure inside that Paul refers to is the light of the gospel. It’s the illumination of ‘the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus’ (2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV). We are containers for his light and his grace. Our beauty comes from his radiance. If we want to emit beauty, we don’t have to change our bodies, we just have to let that radiance out!”

In the first chapter of the Bible, God created humans in His image. (Genesis 1:27). He didn’t make us into plastic dolls or a specific mold so that we are all identical. He created us in His image and uniquely. God doesn’t call us to just love Him and others but to also love ourselves (Mark 12:29-31). It’s not always easy to love ourselves when we see the flaws that our bodies have. Yet God calls us to be thankful for those bodies.

Seeing Ourselves Through God’s Eyes

Today I asked God to let me see myself through His eyes. What a difference that made, I saw the beauty that God sees in His daughter, I saw the youth in my eyes and the beauty that He created. When I start critiquing my body, I stop and change my mindset thanking God for it.

I am thankful for my thighs, they are strong and carry me from place to place. I am thankful for those scars, one brought me my son and the other one brought life back to me. I am thankful for the grey hair because I am alive and growing wiser. I am thankful for the stretch marks because that meant I was able to carry my baby. I am thankful for the autoimmune diseases that attack my body, which is uniquely made just for me. Through those diseases, I find strength in God, and therefore, strength in my faith.

It’s easy to look at the airbrushed bombshells on the glossy magazine covers and envy those curves and abs, but God created me not to look like anyone else and not to be plastic but to be a human in His image. I want to honor God not just with my body as the Bible tells me (1 Corinthians 6:12-20); I also want to honor Him and glorify Him with my thoughts and heart.

So the next time you start comparing your cellulite to the man-made images on the magazine covers or the filtered photos on Instagram, remember the One who created you, the One that made you unique, knitting you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:14-15). Let’s thank Him for our bodies that He’s created in His image.

If your perspective on beauty has been shaped by the mainstream media, this podcast episode will give you an entirely new and refreshing perspective: My Alopecia Diagnosis Changed My View on Real Beauty with Ashley Johnson – 227

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