I recently started turning off the radio when certain commercials come on. You know, the ones that start out, “Where is your problem spot? Is there a little extra on your stomach? Or the flab on the back of your arms?” or “ Remember how great your body used to look? You know, before the baby?” Those commercials disgust me. Who does that sultry voice think she is, to tell me that I’m not attractive enough? Who is she to tell any mother that her hips aren’t gorgeous? And who the heck can even afford those surgeries anyway?
Given, I am not a mother (not for lack of trying. But that’s another story). But I am a woman, and as such, I am beautiful. Just by virtue of my femininity, I am beautiful. I have the natural gift to influence others, to beautify the world around me, and to radiate love and the joy of creation.
I am not perfect. I have acne. I have flabby thighs and a soft middle. I bite my nails sometimes. I am overweight. I have wished I had the money for a quick, easy fix. Or for a personal nutritionist, chef, and trainer.
But you know what? No one else is perfect, either. Those billboards and magazines? Photoshopped. The actress on the red carpet or in the movies? Spanx, and a team of very expensive people who are paid disgusting amounts of money to make her look beautiful. So why not love the body you’ve got?
I’m not advocating slovenliness, or apathy, or neglect of personal hygiene (please keep showering, people). But there is only so much a person can be expected to do. Get up, exercise, shower, enhance your natural beauty. Do your best with what you have. Then go out the door and forget about yourself, and serve those around you.
It has taken me almost twenty-two years to learn this. I have struggled with body image since I turned twelve years old, and my mom suggested I start dieting.
It may be unfair of me to say that; I have every single one of her genes, and everyone in her immediate family, except her, is overweight, and most of them are obese. I know she said it out of love, because she doesn’t want me to deal with those health problems. But she did tell me to start dieting, and she does continue to talk negatively about her own body (which is healthy and fit and honestly, I think she’s too skinny). I don’t think she really knows how it affected me. How I have often watched people walk by and thought, “I wish I had her flat stomach,” or “I wish my hair were as thick and pretty as hers,” or, “I would give anything to have that body.” Or worse, “MAN, I’m glad I don’t look like her.” None of those things are fair. Everyone is different; that’s what makes us beautiful. Thank goodness this isn’t Stepford!
I believe that God gave us each a uniquely beautiful body to live in on this earth and into eternity. I also believe that because the devil chose to leave, he and those who followed him got neither bodies nor the priceless chance to live a mortal life. And because of that choice and its consequence, he is jealous and he is mad. So he does everything he can to make us hate our bodies, to make sure that we aren’t thankful for this incredible, beautiful gift from God.
I’m not asking you to adopt my religious beliefs. But no matter what you believe, you’ve probably figured out that self-hatred isn’t good for anyone. It’s poisonous. It’s crippling. If we don’t love ourselves, our self-consciousness limits our ability to reach out to others. If we don’t love ourselves, we can’t teach our children to love themselves. If we don’t love ourselves, we can’t comfort the friend in need. If we don’t love ourselves, we can’t accept love from others, and we can’t love them back, either.
So I challenge you: the next time you hear a commercial on the radio or on TV telling you to get surgery or take pills or use chemicals to make your body look younger, thinner, smoother, tanner, paler, whatever-er—turn it off. Change the channel, flip the station, just don’t let that kind of negative talk in your life any more. You don’t need it. Your mom doesn’t need it. Your kids don’t need it. Just get rid of it, and invite acceptance and peace and love into your life.