Loving our bodies no matter our shape

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By Jessica Brodie

Eight words from my ten-year-old daughter made me want to cry.

“Mom, I want to go on a diet.”

She’s TEN. What did I do wrong? How did she get here? And… how do I respond?

It’s no secret women across America have body issues. We’re bombarded by Photoshopped models and TV shows that convince us if only we wore a smaller size, had ample thigh gap, and had well-defined abs we’d get the guy, the job—scratch that, the life of our dreams. It’s almost a cliché: Compliment any woman and she’ll ace self-deprecation like it’s her second major in college. “Oh, these jeans? I’m lucky I got them zipped.” But our girls, too?

I sat my daughter down and talked to her. Turns out she feels she’s “chubbier” than other girls in her class (she’s not, but that’s not really the point). We had a long, good talk about how God likes different shapes, sizes, and colors, and how just like her friends have different hair and skin color, we have different shapes, too. We talked about how difference is part of God’s master plan, and how I’m convinced He thinks we’re all gorgeous, glorious, beautiful, and interesting, and so should we (otherwise He wouldn’t have created us).

I hope she got it. Our girls today—even our boys—have a tough road ahead. Between social media pressure and the orchestrations of photo and video editing, it’s hard to understand what’s real and what’s just trendy fantasy.

But God knows what’s real, and when we remain rooted in Him and His word, we know too. I think that’s the secret to success when it comes to positive body image.

Psalm 119 is a long chapter, filled with heart cries from one who has suffered great affliction in life, but who has learned along the way to trust in the Lord and cling to His promises. But one verse in particular catches my soul: “Your hands have made me and set me in place” (Psalm 119:73 CEB).

That’s right! God’s hands have made each one of us. We are told this over and over throughout Scripture, from the first man and woman (Genesis 2) to the promises God made to Jeremiah (29:11) to the reminders we are given in another psalm: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16).

We are beautiful! We are wonderfully made. And we are set in place by God to do His work.

Our shape, our skin color, our mental ability, and our individual gifts, graces, and so-called afflictions are no random accident, some weird chaotic explosion of DNA that we can change through diet, hair dye, and makeup.

We are His, and He set us in place. Let’s celebrate that whatever we look like and whatever we are going through. 

What do you think? Do you ever struggle with negative body image? How does your faith help with this?

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