What I see in the mirror surprises me.The reflection is fickle, it changes from day to day or from moment to moment. I have learned not to trust it entirely, but there is still a part of my brain that looks to the expertise of the almighty mirror.
I hate it. Is this a forever struggle? This internal investment in my appearance. This gross captivation with how I am perceived. I can speak to improvement. I don't get sick from looking and despising. I don't worry as often about being good enough. Lately, more often than not, I'm actually kind of content. But other times I look and it makes me upset. Something looks different. I pinch and flex. I change clothes eight times. I get confused. Is it the mirror I hate or my own body?
When I really think about it, it's the struggle that I hate. I shouldn't hate my body, I shouldn't hate the mirror. In fact, those two issues should barely be on my radar. In light of what I know, in light of a relationship with Jesus, in light of an unpredictable and adventure filled life, in light of eternal love, how does this issue keep cropping up?
Can I get really honest here, about my fears? It sickens me a bit to say them out loud, because they are entirely against what I truly believe and what I want to fight for for women of all ages, but they are fears that follow me...
- I am afraid of what having children will do to my body.
- I am afraid that being content with my body means I'm not trying hard enough, that I'm coming up with excuses, that I am just lazy.
- I am afraid that being content with my body might mean I am not doing enough to love my husband by being more physically attractive to him, or that not getting a super fit body immediately after having children might also be a way of not loving my husband enough (thanks Mark Driscoll for that one..)
There they are. Gross hey? I desperately want to say I am free from the worry over my physical appearance, but how do I fight this when my fears seem so deceptively legitimate?
I have often considered what I would say to young girls if I were ever asked about body image. Perhaps I need to take it more to heart...
- You are deeply and unbelievably loved. Though you may not feel beautiful, there is someone who thinks, no, knows you are beautiful. Through and through.
- The world we live in is brain washing us. This may sound crazy but it's true. The idea of reaching ultimate beauty or ultimate happiness is false. Life can be so much more powerful, passionate, enriching and in-depth than that.
I thought I had more but it really comes down to those two things. Now, those two things are BIG. But there are really only two. And I deeply believe them to be true for all women. When I think of my sisters or cousins or niece or friends or colleagues or mentors experiencing issues with their appearance? It infuriates me! Whatever they believe that goes against those two principles is wrong...they are beautiful, they do have worth, they can fight their fears. But why can't we remember that more often? Why do those superficial fears keep coming back?
Well, it's a journey my friends. But I'm on it. I hope others are journeying this direction with me.