How to Overcome Negative Body Talk
When I was younger, there was an older girl (who I really admired and looked up to) who told me that if I didn't pluck my eyebrows, people would think I didn't take good care of myself...as if it was a basic hygiene requirement.
That's just the tip of the iceberg though. We are bombarded with so many expectations about health, beauty, and success. Everywhere you look, there is advice about how you can look younger, feel healthier and just be overall more attractive.
If I don't wear make-up, then I don't carry about my appearance.
If I don't dress nice, everyone will think I'm a slob.
If I don't live at the gym in my spare time, I'm fat and I don't care about my health.
If I don't tame my curls with a straightener, I'm lazy.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
We talk about true beauty and we tell young girls that they're unique - Jesus loves you just the way you are - yet our magazine covers still show photoshopped celebrities, diets are all the rage, makeup is the standard and girls judge each other left and right.
So we blame the media. Or society. But, the truth is we're to blame. I'm to blame. We are the ones who drive society's expectations and what the media covers. It is within our power to change the definition of beauty. We can ban fat-talk and stop spending billions on cosmetics.
That's just surface stuff though. We can save lives - the souls of those young women who try to find ways to survive whether it's through eating disorders or self-harm, the girls whose tears soak their pillows at night and hatred grows deep within at the reflections they see in the mirror.
If we could change that, can you imagine how the world around us would change?
I look back at my teenage years and I wonder how much time I wasted trying to look more pretty - to fit in and be noticed. I want to calculate the hours spent primping, straightening, fixing, worrying, judging, and crying over my perceived flaws. I imagine it will be in the hundreds of hours. Maybe it will add up to years.
Precious weeks, months and years that I could have spent within the love of a powerful God.
I wish I could say that I've changed and matured. I wish my looks weren't a constant source of disappointment for me. I wish I could stop criticizing myself that the number on my scale hasn't decreased in awhile. I wish I could see myself from another perspective - a more loving and accepting one.
But, when I woke up this morning, the first thing I did was notice the dark circles under my eyes. I threw clothes on the ground in frustration, because nothing seems to fit my body lately - if only I could lose some weight - that's all I can think about. I pulled my hair into a bun, disgusted with it's texture and the curls that won't ever stay in place. And I applied a layer of make-up to hide the acne scars.
You are a mirror reflecting a noble face. This universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you ARE already that. -Rumi
The truth is, I fight this battle every single day. It's painful and frustrating. But you know what? There are moments when Love wins out. It's in those rare times when I look at a photo of myself or the reflection in the mirror and I can't wipe the smile off my face. It's when I see happiness, strength and inner beauty that transforms my features and overcome my flaws. I want to capture those moments and hold on to them forever.
Lately, those moments have come more often. So that's why I keep fighting by striving every day to seek my affirmation in the Lord. To stop caring so much about myself and the appearance in the mirror, and more about my heart.
Because when you look at the Sun, you are basked in it's glow. Darkness, insecurity and imperfections don't survive in His presence. It's just not possible.
...God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. -1 John 1:5
I've learned that when I think about God, my looks don't seem quite so important anymore. When I'm doing something I love for the Lord, my weight doesn't even come to mind.
It's only when I focus on myself that these ugly thoughts seep into my mind. Like when I stare into my reflection in the mirror for too long. Or try to find clothing to show off my body. Or when I dress to impress someone. Or when I compare myself to my friends.
I'm not saying you shouldn't care about your appearance, stop dressing nice or not wear makeup. I'm saying that I have a dependence on building up an appearance I've told myself is worthy of acceptance in our society.
You've probably seen a video like this before, but when I stumbled across this a few days ago, I just had to share it with you. Take a few minutes to watch it...
If you think you can create something more beautiful out of yourself than what God has already created, then go ahead.
I love this quote from the video. That's the thing about makeup, clothes and accessories - they allow us to create the persona we want to show to the world. Like an actress on a stage, you can make yourself up to be anyone you want to be.
But, by far the hardest person to be is yourself - the one with bushy eyebrows, blonde eyelashes, acne scars, freckles or whatever else you try to enhance or cover up each morning with a quick brush of blush or mascara.
It's the secret dreams you have that clash with what your parents, teachers, and friends tell you should do. It's the opinions you're afraid to voice because popular opinion is completely opposite.
That's why I want to step into the Light. I want to turn my face to the warmth and love only my Creator can provide. Like a flower that's been pricked and primped with too many chemicals and heating tools, I want to unfold my hands before Him and be transformed into something natural, pure and beautiful.
I don't ever again want to be recognized for my looks or my weight. I don't even want to be recognized for my accomplishments. I don't want to find validation in some guy who tells me I'm beautiful and showers me with compliments. Instead, I want God to be glorified through me - for people to see Him in every word I say, every outfit I wear and even in a single glance at my face.
Can you feel it? The warmth and the blinding light? I can. It's what keeps me going even after a morning full of self-judgment or an Instagram feed full of pretty people.
How do you fight the negative talk about body image? How can we redefine beauty?
PS. You can find more videos like the one above via the Insecurely Movement.