9/06/2011

A Weighty Series, part 6

Last week I began a series on body image and weight issues; you can read part 1part 2part 3part 4, and part 5 to get caught up. This week I'm looking into our bodies with regards to food and exercise, and how God defines beauty, including what the Bible says about each one. Today we'll start with some sadness about how much pursuit of the lie that all women should pursue the "perfect" body permeates our culture, down the the youngest of our girls.

Women are killing themselves to look like this.
[click image for link]
Pursuit of Culture's Lie
In case you don't think idolizing the perfect body is real, just go on Pinterest. I LOVE Pinterest, but at least once a day I see someone pin a quote that says, "Somebody busier than you is running right now." Guilt much? There's the Victoria's Secret model-esque pictures with the caption, "Eat for the body you want, not the one you have," and another similar body with the phrase, "What you eat in secret you wear in public," inscribed on it.   Or I see women post impossibly perfect bodies for 99% of us with the caption, "Inspiration."

You might say this is normal, healthy even. But did you know that there are websites that tout anorexia and bulimia as healthy, and they do this very same thing? They post pictures of incredibly thin women to inspire (read: guilt and shame) normal girls into taking extreme measures to look like their "thinspiration." This made headlines earlier this summer after the Royal Wedding when images of Kate (or, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) and her sister Pippa Middleton made frequent rounds on those websites.

Kate is gorgeous; whether she has
this body from healthy means or
not doesn't matter as much as
ensuring that our standard is
not trying to be her.
If you click on that linked article, it has its own link to an article about a new study finding that half a million U.S. teens have eating disorders. The link of these two articles is particularly alarming for those who recall Princess Diana's own battles with bulimia.

Baby Needs A Diet?
When I was 220 or so pounds my senior year of high school I was at the home of my friend Emma. A little girl named Esther, one of our youth pastor's daugthers, was there and we were in Emma's room as she changed her shirt. Esther was about 2 and a half years old, and she stared at Emma. Emma was so thin (genetics, in her case) that she wasn't allowed to donate blood because she was always well under the weight requirement. She was the least pretentious girl you'd ever meet, so it wasn't a pride thing on her part. But, tragically, Esther pulled up her shirt, rubbed her hand on her healthily bloated toddler belly, and, with tears in her eyes, said over and over, "Essie needs flat tummy. Essie needs a diet."

You might think I made this up or exaggerated for flair. I wish I did. It is crucial that we take these issues seriously; I mean not to judge Esther's mom, but Esther learned those behaviors somewhere and I do recall her rather thin mom berating herself for struggling to get baby weight off quickly after their third child. I remember wondering what she thought of me, since I was a good 90 pounds larger than her at the time without giving birth to three children. Since I looked up to my youth pastor's wife, it caused me to believe that Jesus thought I was gross and that he would only love me if I could "love him enough" to fix myself and lose weight and exercise like a fiend. Tragically, little 2 year old Esther was receiving the same message from her mom.

What are we saying to our daughters when we lament over our "horribly fat" bodies? What standard are we setting for our sons and their future wives when we refuse to rest in our beauty as Christ created us and teach them that the only real beauty is looking like the women on the covers of magazines?

The Porn Standard for our Children?
May my husband and I teach our
wonderful and inquisitive boy
biblical truths about beauty.
If your husband taught your son that the ideal woman, the only one who could ever please him, must look like the women in porn and actively exposed your son to this, would you not be infuriated and terrified? Or what if your husband sent that same message to your daughter, nagging her to be sexy? You may never allow any form of porn, possibly not even a TV or any magazines at all (not that I commend those actions, but some people are that extreme) into your home, but if you refuse to strive for peace with God with regards to your body, making disparaging remarks about yourself and believing them to be true even if you keep your mouth shut, then what you are doing really isn't all that different. This should sober you and drive you to your knees in prayer.

So, today we are reminded about the relevance of body image and how crucial it is that we seek Jesus in these matters. Tomorrow I will dig into What the Bible has to say--we're finally getting into the good stuff! But worry not; if you enjoy my anecdotal ways then rest assured that they shall not wane.

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