Admit It! We All Struggle… (Thoughts on Body Image – Part 1)

Body Image. Whether we like it or not, or realize it or not, we are constantly being fed by what others think of body image. Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest are plagued with what the rest of the world defines as “beautiful,” “hot”, or “sexy.” Click the search button on Instagram, find out what is trending on Twitter, look for the latest products in the beauty world on Pinterest, and a quick click through Snapchat’s featured section and differing opinions on body image is being consumed by tons of people, every second of every day. A few days ago, I was scrolling through Seventeen and Cosmopolitan’s websites just to see how many articles I could find regarding anything under the concept of beauty. To my surprise, I found more positive articles rather than negative ones; but, as I skimmed through these sites, my heart hurt. We have let someone else define what our bodies should look like. I found an interesting article on Seventeen about a Redditt user who posted selfies to get feedback on her makeup. While it was an interesting read, the article broke my heart. Someone told the young woman she had 1.5 eyelids (umm, what?) and then went on to describe what she needed to do to fix, highlight, and correct her eyelids. Being of Asian descent, her eyelids are typical for her body – so how dare we say that is not beautiful, or that is something that needs to be fixed with makeup? On a mission trip to the Philippines several summers ago, I found out the models there use a lightening product on their skin because they love the “white” American skin. Why do we let others who do not look like us, do not live like us, and for goodness sake do not even know us, define beauty? A quick scroll through Instagram’s #beauty and the majority of pictures I found were of young women in bikinis, mostly Caucasian, and always super skinny. On the other hand, #bodyimage, brought a lot of inspiring posts from men and women of all different body types and races. What I realized is, if we are being honest with ourselves, most of us struggle with our body image. Each one of us defines “pretty” “healthy” “skinny” “athletic” “toned” and “beautiful” so differently. All these different ways to define body image make for an awesome problem to have! However, there is still an overlying message telling us what a perfect body looks like. The concept of a “perfect body” can complicate our dating life, going shopping, and even just hanging out with friends! More significantly though, what we see as “pretty” “healthy” “skinny” “athletic” “toned” and “beautiful” effects how we see ourselves. An individual’s view of their own body image effects self-esteem, confidence, boldness, individuality, eating habits, physical activity, and so much more. Just the other day, I was having a conversation with my sister who recently went to have a complete body scan done at a nutrition place. For the last two years, she has been on a journey to get healthy and has lost 120 pounds. Her success inspired me to do the same and for the last 10 months, I have been on a similar journey. My sister is currently at her healthiest, skinniest, most toned, and confident spot she has ever been in. She told me after her scan, she only has 15% body fat, a tremendous accomplishment! Even though she knows she does not need to lose any more weight, she still struggles to see it and comprehend it. She shared her story with a friend in her early twenties who has never really struggled with being overweight, but the friend also shared she constantly struggles with her body image. During our talk, I admitted my own recent struggle with my body image even after losing 85 pounds! There is still a lot I want to fix about my body – tighten this, flatten that, cover this up, etc. At a recent, what should have been fun, shopping trip to Rue21, I thought about how going shopping is still a struggle because, “Really, how is that ever going to fit?!” I have multiple friends in their late twenties to mid thirties who admit their daily struggle with body image. Every time I log on to one of my social media accounts I see multiple friends selling another beauty product to help with this or fix that (not that there is anything wrong with marketing these produces, but just provides further evidence body image is something we are always thinking about!). I have been around middle school and high school students who struggle with eating disorders (boys and girls, popular and unpopular, for so many different reasons). If you are reading this blog and struggle with body image, know you are not alone. Will you do a few things for me, please? First of all, know above all else that you have been created in the Image of God (Imago Dei; Genesis 1:27), and you are a masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). Second, tell someone! Maybe a trusted friend, family member, counselor, or a sibling. Start the conversation with them by simply asking, “Do you ever struggle with body image?” Third, and finally, find someone who can encourage and support you through your struggle, and then, be that person to someone else! ~ Kristi Kristi Moore is a student at Campbell University Divinity School finishing up her final year of the Masters of Divinity program. She has worked with middle school and high school students for 11 years in the church and school system. She has combined her love of writing with her desire to see human beings understand who they are in Christ, along with her own life experiences to write these blogs. Her greatest hope for this blog is that the readers learn something about God, about themselves, and may be able to smile at some point while reading! Be blessed!! Stay tuned for Part 2 on our series about Body Image: “Now What? The Path to a Healthy, Positive Body Image.”