As a woman writing about shame, I can’t get too far into this series without discussing body shame, which I define as follows:
“Body shame is the feeling that your body with its imperfections is something of which to be ashamed – something you wish you could hide or change.” – from “Clothed in Christ: Body Shame” in Unashamed: Healing our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame
I will say that compared to the “typical woman,” I managed to dodge the body shame bullet for a long time. I attribute this to growing up with brothers, where the focus at meals was about how much you ate instead of competing for how little you ate. I also come from pretty awesome genetics that I can take no credit for – high metabolism – and a generation of women who loved their desserts (and it didn’t show #unfairIknow). My dad did nothing but praise my appearance, giving me an inward confidence that was such a gift during adolescence particularly. My mom was free of the dieting cycles many of my and her friends tried throughout the years. The result = a ton of resilience against body shame.
Until I got pregnant, gained a lot of weight with twins, and hit the awkward postpartum months/years when, yes, I’ve had people ask me if I’m pregnant because that’s what it looked like. Weight doesn’t come off so easily when you’re in your 30s. End result = first real personal struggle with body shame.
So what have I done? What do I do? I preach the gospel to myself. The gospel as applied to body shame is that I am redeemed from my deepest flaw (sin within), and that Christ has made me beautiful. The beauty that counts is within, and my struggle with my outward appearance is either increasing inward beauty or decreasing it.
- Do I obsess to the point of self-centered focus?
- Do I spend more time measuring myself by dress size and the number on my scale than by the truth that I am hidden with Christ in God?
- Do I judge my worth by how snugly my clothes fit compared to a few years ago?
- Do I look at the mirror on my wall more than the mirror of God’s Word?
The truth is that right now, this struggle is nearly daily. But I know freedom is possible, and I have tasted it in glimpses. What I pray is that more and more, I will be more focused on loving others than on how I appear or what I don’t like about my body. I pray that I will be more and more radiant with the beauty that comes from being with Jesus instead of becoming obsessed with wearing the right clothes, makeup, and being my “ideal size.”
I want to see myself as God sees me, not as the message given to me by the culture, the mirror or the scale. And God calls me beloved and beautiful, because I am clothed in his Beloved Son, Jesus, by faith.