We all have them—those pesky little voices in the back of our heads that whisper, “You are ugly.” “You are fat.” “You are worthless.” “You are plain.” “You are uninteresting to look at.” And somehow that Sméagol-like voice convinces us that ugliness equals worthlessness. Obviously, if we aren’t beautiful, thin, and sexy no one will love us. And if no one loves us then we won’t find happiness. And happiness is the biggest pursuit of our time.
I was “lucky” enough to develop an eating disorder because I listened to that voice. I was naive, and I believed him. The worst part is that I no longer suffer from it mentally, but my poor body lives with the after math of it physically. I struggle to eat enough calories because my tummy shrunk so much. I struggle to not feel nausea when I eat. I struggle to enjoy certain foods without remembering the agony they used to bring me. I watch myself in case I start working out too hard, and I can’t diet because I naturally fall back into bad habits.
Never thought you’d hear someone say they wish they had the luxury of dieting, did you?
As a teenager I thought my worth was in how hot my body looked. And it wasn’t even the magazines or the movies that made me insecure. It was the everyday comments I heard around me. People thought they had the freedom to comment on my body as if it were a public piece of art. From family to strangers, people didn’t realize the effect their words had on an unmolded mind.
The truth is, other women (except my mother) never took me aside and told me the truth. Women in my life didn’t think twice that a gawky teenager was silently wallowing in needless agony. No one told me that the boys who bullied me because of the outside, and didn’t respect what was on the inside, were just that—boys.
But thankfully I had a Father in heaven who was using that whole experience to shape me into a better woman. He showed me how much he loved me, and the God who created me in my mother’s womb (before the foundation of the world!) makes no mistakes. Everything is for a reason and a purpose—even painful, bad experiences. He showed me that I was created with a purpose, a calling, and a mission that was going to be so much more important than fretting over the “perfect body shape” I didn’t have. My life was destined to be full of work and meaning.
If you are going through a similar time in your life where you hate your body and you stress and lay awake at night over it, then I have 6 things to tell you. These are things I wish an older, wiser woman would have told me. But since she didn’t I will pass them on to you.
- My body is beautiful, and someone loves it just the way it is.
After I married my husband, we were in the car talking about my past body image issues. He leaned over and said, “Did you know that I prayed for a girl who was your exact size? Bone-skinny girls are so unattractive to me.”
I was mad.
I had tried for years and years to lose weight and tone up! I was mad because God heard his prayers and not mine!
And then I laughed. God loved me more than my awkward shell, and he was going to prove it. God heard my husband’s prayers and kept me just the way I was for Blake. That meant two people loved me!
Dear girl, if someone doesn’t like your body, it means absolutely nothing. There is someone out there who thinks your little imperfections are beautiful. What IS ugly is when you don’t embrace your imperfections as God’s masterpieces. Love yourself because God loved you first.
- God Has Made Everything Beautiful.
I was sitting in the car on a road trip heading to my cousin’s wedding, when God randomly hit me with that verse. I wasn’t reading scripture, I was just looking out the window pouting about how I was going to look at the wedding—BAM! He has made me beautiful in his time—time is his—this moment in time is his—and he calls it and everything in it beautiful.
When you feel low, remember that he called you beautiful. Denying it is to call God a liar.
- Beauty happens on the outside after you cultivate it on the inside.
I will always love Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. They remain my favorite icons, and they will forever hold the respect and awe of all who watch their films. They are the Cleopatra’s and Hellen’s of our age. What I’ve always wondered, though, is what really made them better than everyone else? There were other women who were equally as beautiful—what made them so special?
I’ve read books and looked closely at their lives, and I realized that it wasn’t the outside that made them famous. It was the woman on the inside that people loved. It wasn’t Audrey’s big eyes that captivated the world, but the soul-searching love you saw inside of them. It wasn’t her perfect figure we loved, but the grace she genuinely loved people with.
Grace Kelly brought a personal value system to the set other women didn’t. She wasn’t a hussy or a tramp. She wanted to make a difference in the world, and she did. To her, acting was an art form, not a self-seeking profession.
Both women were pure, kind, intelligent, life changing, independent, elegant, and spirited. We simply mistook their beauty for the reason we loved them. Like them, beauty happens when your soul shines through your eyes. Beauty happens when your kindness shows in your smile. When beauty happens in the heart and mind, the rest falls into place.
4. “Giving up” is the surest beauty technique.
A year before I met my husband, I gave up on everything. I stopped caring. I was too tired to continue in the same lifestyle. My body was starving for good hormones like endorphins. My body was exhausted from the insane workouts I was doing. My body was malnourished from lack of food. So, I stopped all the nonsense.
I ate a candy bar for the first time in years. I wore clothes I liked, not that looked good on me. And I got close to Jesus. I started running and lifting heavy weights because I enjoyed the challenge, not because I hated my body. I had a whole year to relax and do bigger things. And you know what? As my body relaxed, as I laughed and enjoyed my life, my body automatically changed into what I always wanted. I lost weight without really trying. Guys started hitting on me. I felt happier and more confident. My hair grew long, healthy, and shiny.
When we allow ourselves to enter extreme stress, our bodies hold onto those negative hormones and we go into “survival mode.” Survival mode is when our bodies feel threatened so they retain fat and water until the perceived threat is over. It’s not a pretty thing at all. By choosing not to stress and choosing to enjoy life, I became interesting, felt sexier, and acted more confident.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself is to give up. Give up on all the dumbness and go live.
5. For every “ugly” body part I have, I have one good character trait.
Here’s a trick: if you look in the mirror and you see something you hate, then search into your soul and find one thing you love about yourself. We get so focused on the bad things, we forget to focus on the good things.
I always loved the fact I was extroverted, and even though it didn’t change my chubby fingers, other people also loved my outgoing-ness. No one is a lost cause. Everyone brings something beautiful into the world. It’s our job to identify it and use those traits for Jesus. It’s okay to appreciate the good things about yourself.
6. God has given us each an important mission.
Last but not least, you have a mission. The Bible talks about the Proverbs 31 Woman as a lady who used her energy to serve others. She wasn’t just a stay at home mom—she was a mother, a wife, a business owner, an entrepreneur, a manager, a gardener, a crafty mind, a fashionista, a seeker of finer things, a community social worker–her list is endless. But her life’s theme was to impact the lives of those around her. Everyone she came in contact with was blessed.
God gave us a command to tell everyone about him–that’s the purpose of every single life. As daughters of the King we aren’t here to live a luxury, self-centered lifestyle. We are here on a mission. Each mission is as varied and different as our personalities, body shapes, and talents—but we all have a mission.
The theme of our mission is in Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.” You might be called to stop human trafficking. You might be called to teach and change the lives of children. You might be called into nursing or writing or motherhood. Whatever that mission is, your calling is to bless everyone around you with Jesus’s love.
When you feel worthless and ugly, remember that there is more to your life than the perfect body. The purpose God gave you is where your value and self-worth come from. The treasures you are storing in heaven, the choices you make, the differences you have on the world….that is your beauty.
Don’t agonize over the temporal things, over the body that will age and wrinkle in just a few short years anyway. God called you beautiful and that should be enough. God wants our hearts to be beautiful, He wants our actions and our choices. And when we come home to Jesus he will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter now into joy everlasting.”
And that is a beautiful place to be.
I hope this encouraged someone out there struggling with body image disorder. You are not a lost cause. You are more beautiful than you know. And you have so much to offer the world!