I walked into the torture chamber, my stomach tight with dread. Artificial light flickered above my head. The room smelled like cleaning products. The gray carpet showed mysterious stains. To my right were three silver hooks and to my left a tiny corner seat. My face appeared pale and sickly in the mirror. The attendant bustled into the fitting room after me, handing me a pile of clothes. “Let me know if you need any help!”
I hate trying on clothes. The process sets a ticking time bomb on my self–confidence. I spin in front of the mirror. Sit. Evaluate how the fabric bulges and flows. My skin grows irritated from pulling outfits on and off. My eyes pick apart my stomach, legs, and arms. My own thoughts slash my body to shreds, until I leave the room, my self confidence left behind with cast off clothes.
Research confirms other women share my struggle with body image. USA Today reports that Americans spent over sixteen billion dollars on cosmetic plastic surgery in 2016 alone. We want to look thinner, taller, with less wrinkles and flyaway hairs. We strive for just the right breast size and calf shape. Our stomachs should be tight and our teeth straight.
Do you ever feel unhappy with your physical appearance?
As a middle schooler, I dreamed of the day when I would get married. I believed every insecurity I felt about my body would melt away once I met the perfect man. But as anyone who struggles with insecurity knows, the validation of one person won’t fix an aching heart. The validation of twenty people won’t fix it. Because our society will continue to hold “beauty” just out of our reach. Every time we get close, they move the boundaries further back.
Some members of the faith attempt to discredit the need for physical beauty altogether. But our God loves beauty. He creates exquisite things. Flowers display his creativity and majesty, and God did not content himself with just one type. Alan Paton of the Royal Botanic Gardens estimates that over 400,000 flowering plant species exist in the world today. Appreciating God’s artistry leads us to praise and worship.
King David writes about this in Psalm 139: 13–16 (NIV):
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.
King David saw his physical health and beauty as an opportunity to praise God (v.14). He doesn’t demean his good looks or strong physique, but gives credit to the creator.
God worked in awesome power to bring each one of us into existence. Tall and short. Pale and caramel and sable skinned. Curly, wavy, and frizzy haired. Freckled and birthmarked. Round stomachs and flat ones. God himself carefully crafted each detail. Our creation happened in a “secret place,” an intimate moment between us and God (v.15). He knew everything we would do and who we would become and he chose to bring us into existence (v.16). Instead of envying your sister’s curly hair, stop and praise God for his creativity. Spend time in prayer asking to better understand your value in Christ.
Criticizing the human form is as futile and ridiculous as standing before the Grand Canyon and commenting, “I wish that rock formation looked a little less edgy. I feel those boulders protrude too far, maybe we can tighten them up a bit?”
We need to look past cultural standards and our own insecurity to see beauty gazing back in the mirror. Women of God who fight hard for love and self–acceptance provide powerful witness in a society filled with plastic surgery and eating disorders.
Lord, we thank you for your power, wisdom, and majesty. Thank you for delighting in us, body and soul. Teach us to see our own beauty. Help us silence the critic in our minds and direct our thoughts to worship you as our creator and artist. All your works are wonderful, we know that full well. Amen.
About The Author
Allie Mock grew up in Sugar Land, Texas. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas A&M University and will graduate with a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary in December 2018. Allie enjoys exploring the great outdoors, being silly, and teaching the Bible. She currently serves as an intern for HeartStrong Faith.