What if I told you that your body may be as good as it gets? Right now? Today?
Yes, right now with all its supposed flaws and appearance problems.
Dough stomach, lopsided smile, big feet, wide shoulders and all.
Would you believe me?
Or would you argue that in ten weeks after you complete that weight training, cross training, and ballet bar class your body will be better and improved. (Which, after all that work, it probably would be fitter and trimmer.)
Are you bemoaning your current body, instead of enjoying it?
This is what my younger sister is asking me, as I slouch against her counter top. Her hands are waving and her face is animated.
She starts her story.
We were three women standing in my kitchen, she says, complaining about summer and swimsuits. How our bodies have changed since childbirth, nursing, and whizzing past twenty, and now we are almost entering our mid-thirties.
We were analyzing and complaining about how we were so self-conscious about our stomachs as a teen–when we didn’t even have a stomach or know what a stomach was. How we were bemoaning our bodies and breasts and thighs back then and were so self-conscious. But compared to now, we looked like rock stars. Only we didn’t even appreciate what we had.
Her and I start laughing and nodding our heads.
Because if I had known as a teen or twenty something that my looks and body were changing and fading faster than dandelion seeds in a strong wind, she says, would we have been so loathsome of our bodies? So quick to find fault, compare, pick apart, and expect perfection when we were closer than we would ever be to perfection?
One of us says something about beauty and looks being wasted on the young who don’t really appreciate what is coming down the road of years, nor realize how their bodies will be on a downhill slide from around 18 or so.
So, I said to my friends, she continues, that we need to stop comparing and complaining about our bodies right now, because they sure weren’t getting any younger. Any fitter. And we need to appreciate and love them now, the way they are right now, because tomorrow they would be one day older. One day more wrinkled. One day more stooped. One day more everything.
We could complain through our thirties and into our forties and on, bemoaning how our bodies are abandoning the tone, glow, and elasticity of youth. Or we could be thankful for what we had, knowing that today we are looking our best.
I said to my friends, she said, are we going to be here ten years from now complaining how our thirty some bodies were so superior to our forty some bodies. And guess what? We didn’t even appreciate them the way we should have. Because like it or now, we are all aging and getting one day closer to checkout.
She looks at me. Then gives me her parting advice. So, enjoy your good as it gets body. I am mine.
We laugh at the silliness of our focus on beauty and body. We laugh at ourselves. And we laugh, because her words are so wise and piercing. Her story so true.
The struggle of enjoying our bodies as women.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I look in the mirror and wonder who is looking back at me. I turn sidewise and bemoan my stomach. I smile and notice all the lines pointing out from my eyes.
But I don’t want to miss out on enjoying my body. Hate aging. Dislike parts of my body because they don’t fit a beauty standard that few people can even achieve.
And so sometimes I tell myself that my body is as good as it gets and to enjoy where I am right now. Not to waste my time complaining about what I don’t have, because I am at my top form today.
And I remind myself that God loves me just the way I am. Wrinkles and a stomach do not surprise him or change his thoughts of me. I am still his beloved.
Nor do wrinkles or lack of wrinkles improve my life, make it smoother, better and improved.
Ever notice how magazines and ads and are constantly telling us we are not good enough. Beautiful enough. Tall enough. Skinny enough. And if we only did these exercises. Used this toothpaste. Wore this bra. Lined our eyes in this color. We would be enough. Our problems would be solved.
The suggestions and lies of telling us we are not enough, never stops. Every page points out a new flaw. And all with a photo shopped girl who no one really looks like 24-7. Okay, not even one hour a day.
7 ways to improve your body image?
1. Quit believing this lie of not being enough. No product will solve your problems. Turn you beautiful overnight. Melt away pounds and turn you into the perfect women. None. Nor will a plethora of products.
You are already the perfect woman. A woman with a wonderful destiny and future. With love and grace awaiting your acceptance of them. You are unique and the only you. You are loved and adored by your creator. You don’t need whiter teeth and the perfect arch for people to love you. Thinner thighs won’t keep you from trials or improve your life.
2. Stop comparing yourself to photo shopped photos splashed in magazines and billboards and bus sides. To images on social media.To other women. To anyone. We are all different and no one standard is better than another. One year tall is in, the next year short. We cannot change our looks ever year or season. Be the best you. The one and only you. Because when it comes down to it, a heart of kindness, love, joy, forgiveness, and grace will get you farther in life than your fleeting looks.
3. Quit thinking about your looks and self so much. Remember when you were a teen and thought everyone was noticing that pimple on your nose, but no one did because they were so preoccupied with their own pimples and worrying what others thought of them. The same still holds true. We are all more concerned with picking apart our self than we are with picking apart our friends and others. While we may feel everyone is judging us and our appearance, really very few are.
4. Change your definition of beauty. Don’t let society tell you that beauty is a skinny nose. Or one shade of hair color. Realize that true beauty comes from a confident attitude, a loving concern for others, a patient attitude, a healthy frame of mind, or an attitude of progress over perfection. Redefine beauty to something achievable.
5. Don’t listen to or engage in destructive self-talk that picks your body apart item by item. As a momma, I get upset when one of my children put themselves down. When they say they are not smart enough. Good enough. Pretty enough. I tell them to stop that and then tell them all the ways they are. Now if we get upset when our children put themselves down, don’t you think our creator likes it when we put down our self (his creation)? When we complain about the good thighs and nails he has given us we are saying we don’t like the gifts he’s given us. Do you think your mate, kiddos, or girlfriends like you putting yourself down either?
6. Find things you like about your body. We can be quick to notice our flaws. Next time this happens, make a point of appreciating and noticing the good. Come up with three good points for every negative point. As we start noticing the good, it becomes easier,
7. Realize that God loves you the way you are. If you were skinnier or had smoother skin or flawless teeth, he could not love you more. You would not be more blessed or earn more points with him. Your worth in his eyes would in no way change. He loves you flaws and all. Crocked smile and all. Flat arches and all. Just like you love your friends, animals, and kids, flaws and all. Remember, his love is never conditional. It never wavers. Because it is a perfect love, we can relax into and know we are so much more valuable than our looks.
Enjoy your body. Your looks. You are at your best today. You will be at your best tomorrow. And the next day. Rejoice in this.
Join the Discussion: How do you show love to your body? Or combat body image woes?
Linking up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope). A Wise Woman Builds her Home, Pat and Candy, Messy Marriage, Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth), Missional Women, Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement) and Lili Dunbar (#FaithOnFire).