Today I'm continuing this week's series on weight and body image, particularly for women. You can read part 1, part 2, and part 3 if you missed them.
Yesterday's post was heavy to write--no pun intended. I"m not pretending to have this all figured out, but the burden won't lift and as I'm writing this series and digging into the Bible (really, it's coming!) I'm learning a lot. I pray, pray, pray that women are reading this, chewing on it, and taking it to Jesus. The examination of why we praise friends / loved ones who lose weight was hard for me to say because I fear some backlash, to be honest with you. How dare I say it could be sinful to rejoice with someone who has worked hard and their body is thinner? Is it wrong to praise hard work, especially if it was done unto the Lord? But the action isn't the problem--it's always about the heart and why we're saying those things.
So, let's keep going.
Beyond the Lashes
While I spent much of yesterday's post on eyelashes, let's get deeper today.
We all know society lies. It tells teens they need Botox and breast augmentations and rhinoplasty, and many of us are heartbroken over the constant sexual messages sent to young girls in which their value and worth is in their sex appeal.
There was the "push-up" triangle bikini top aimed at girls aged 8 to 12; not only do most second graders not have breasts but if they do they certainly need not "push" them "up."
The trend of 13 year old girls having thong underwear stick out of their low rider skinny jeans in the middle of math class, a problem male teachers I taught with lamented over, because if they told the girl she needed to go get the longer shirt from the office for breaking dress code then they looked like perverts checking out young girls.
I'm not going to bash anyone, but I will say that our home will work hard to make sure Jesus or godly women are those whom our daughter(s) look up to, because the transformation of the likes of Miley Cyrus is just dangerous ground to let our little girls want to emulate.
The message doesn't stop with what little girls need to look like; the increasing usage of plastic surgery is also telling girls what their mothers should look like. In doing research for a book I'll share about tomorrow, I stumbled across a book called My Beautiful Mommy which pictures a gorgeous, impossibly Barbie-esque woman and her young daughter (it's for age 4 and older), and the process of the mom getting plastic surgery. Here are the excerpts of the book from the Amazon site.
The fact that this book exists isn't wrong (more on that in a moment) but look at the message--the mother is already always a gorgeous supermodel type, not to mention the huge, hunky doctor and teeny blonde nurse. But the idea of this book is that mommy needs to get pretty. The way she is, how God made her, isn't good enough.
Plastic Surgery is not Necessarily Sinful
I'll touch more on what real beauty is in a later post, but know that I'm not against plastic surgery. I have had gastric bypass and with likely another 100 pounds to healthily lose my stomach and breasts are simply trashed. Getting pregnant after losing 100 pounds, and then nursing as best I could for 5 months, has caused my skin to be very stretched across my entire torso and breasts, possibly my arms as well. That's not even including the 3 or so more children we hope to have. When I get to a healthier size I am already fairly certain that I'll have legitimate issues (already I can be prone to rashes) from sagging skin that make removal a medically wise choice.
Additionally, I have a friend who had four babies in three years (one set of twins) and she loves running, doing various races and competitions each year. Sadly, upon carefully telling some people about a breast lift/reduction and tummy tuck (similar to what I hope to have eventually) she was having she was treated with disdain. Some told her that she clearly wasn't resting in God and embracing her post-babies body. Upon talking to her and hearing her heart, I can proclaim how dare they? She wasn't being petty. Her body didn't allow her to run without causing a lot of problems and it made daily tasks of caring for her family difficult. Even if she did just want to feel better about her body and her husband supported her they answer to God, not people who were judgmental without pursuing her heart.
So, then, this book isn't inherently evil. But the truth is that most in our culture have surgery not for healthy reasons but because they're pursuing that worldly standard of beauty. Just the other night I saw a blurb advertising an excerpt on a show that night with a thin, already worldly beautiful woman without any visible unsightly fat and she was scheduling liposuction. Imagine if she were a mother, sharing this book with her daughter, and saying this is healthy and normal. Again, it's perpetration of the lie.
Weight Loss Surgery is not Necessarily Sinful
I had gastric bypass because I was nearly 400 pounds and in a physically deteriorated condition to where "traditional" weight loss wasn't a healthy option, and the surgery saved my life. I have peace from the Lord that this choice was not sin. Bariatric surgery is not necessarily sinful. Yet as I write this there is a commercial running showing a woman most would consider perfectly healthy looking and the advertisement is that she can get the gastric band for only $13,999. This new "low-BMI" band is for those as low as 35 pounds overweight. You do have to have one co-morbidity, and some are serious like heart disease or a stroke. Some are as simple as arthritis or gallstones, which for some who are only 35 pounds overweight may only be a coincidence.
Yet again, I'm not trying to make out anyone to be bad. But these are the trends of our culture. This culture called Jessica Simpson "fat" when she had a body that 85% of the women I know would be thrilled to wake up with; and you hopefully remember the recovering-from-an-eating-disorder "fat" Demi Lovato backlash I wrote about in part 1. This culture lauds Angelina Jolie's body as incredible, yet if the average woman saw her in real life she'd seem way, way too thin. And if Angelina's genetics just produce a body like that, let's not hate, but let's also not say that her tiny, tiny frame is what every other woman should be aspiring to.
Tomorrow's post deals with this idea of what a "chubby" girl should do with her body. I'll be honest--it's kind of depressing. But at the same time, let us be soberly aware of this and wake up, so that we don't sleepwalk through culture and accept its portrayal of "normal" any longer.