Saturday, August 13, 2011

Please don't waste your life like this... (I say this also to myself)

Every morning I watch the TODAY Show while I get ready for work. A couple of days ago they did a segment revealing "mom secrets". They baited you for the story by saying, "Would most mothers rather be thinner or have smarter children? The shocking results, coming up!". Maybe I'm jaded, but the first thing I thought was: the only way the results will be shocking is if the moms chose to have smarter children.

I knew all too well that the "shocking results" would be that moms would rather lose weight than have their chidlren's IQs increased. Which really made me think, as women, isn't it time for us to do something different? Can't we have a different obsession? Or maybe no obsession? A different value? A different focus? The obsession with weight is so cliche and mundane. It seems like a given in our society that no woman is content with her weight or body. Every woman wants to be thinner or if they already think they're thin enough (the few), then their greatest fear is gaining weight.

And it's understandable that women are so obsessed with the pursuit of thinness. As a woman in American society I've literally heard it my entire life. From my grandmother, mother, aunts, cousins, friends, and random female aquaintances. All of them hated their thighs or their stomach "pooched" or they made fun of their own flabby arms or thought their rearend was "huge" or wanted smaller ankles or wrists or fingers or feet. Oh, and I joined right in. At some point in my life I think I have disliked almost every single part of my body - even down to the shape of my big toes. Ridiculous. Not to mention the media. I won't even say anything about the media. If you don't understand the problem with the media's portrayal and scrutiny of women's bodies, then I'm really not sure what to say to you.

Of course no one wants to be fat. I understand that. Fatness is often related to an unhealthy lifestyle. In our culture fat people are stigmatized as lazy, gross, dirty, unwanted, angry, and unhappy. People want to fit in and be valued, admired, and wanted. Which is understandable, but still a problem if what your culture values is so shallow or of no true value.

I just wonder what we as women are missing out on. We spend the vast majority of our lives being dissatisfied with our bodies, but is that what life is really about? Having a great or perfect body? Is that living? After all our worry and unhappiness with our bodies, are we any better off? I don't hear many women saying, "I thought I was fat for years, but now I'm so happy. I love my body. It's perfect. I wouldn't change a thing" (except for maybe in weight loss infomercials, ironically enough). Worry, obsession, and dissatisfaction with our bodies seems to get us no where - except more worry, obsession, and dissatisfaction.

I recently saw this quote on Pinterest (and I've heard it before elsewhere) and it's meant to be funny, but I think it might be very true. I wish I was as thin as I was when I thought I was fat. Because what if you're not as fat as you think you are? What if your body is beautiful and functional? Right now, today, I can look at pictures of myself from highschool, when I use to constantly berate myself for my hideous, fat body. And guess what? I wasn't fat. Not at all. In fact, now I weigh a good 20 pounds more than I did in high school. I would love to look like I did in high school. But did I love it then? No. I wonder if the same thing is happening now?! At 28 I can find countless flaws with my physical appearance. What will I think when I'm 40? Will I look back at pictures of myself from this time period and think: I wasted all that youth and good looks thinking I was not pretty/thin enough?

For all the time, energy, and thought we women put into our looks, I wonder what else we could be doing...  What might God have planned for us to focus on, accomplish, and experience if we weren't so obsessed with / depressed about / focused on our bodies and appearance?

Don't get me wrong. I'm a woman and I enjoy being a woman. I like wearing make-up, shopping for cute clothes and accessories, and getting my hair done. In fact, I'm very stereotypically feminine and hate getting dirty. However, I honestly think there's a difference between enjoying being a woman and making yourself attractive and obsessing over your looks - especially your deficiencies and perceived flaws.

A couple of years ago God really spoke to me about this issue through Romans 12:1-2. I am going to leave you with this long version of those verses, slightly modified from the Amplified Bible.

I appeal to you therefore, sisters, and beg of you in view of all the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies (presenting every single part of your body) as a living sacrifice, holy-devoted-consecrated and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable-rational-intelligent service and spiritual worship

Do not be conformed to this world, to this age - which is fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs, but be transformed and changed by the entire renewal of your mind (which means new ideas and a new attitude), so that you may prove for yourselves (be able to discern) what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good acceptable and perfect in His sight for you.


Jenel said...

Amen sis. I can't help but wonder too how much more joy and freedom we'd experience if we spent that mental obsessing time on the fact the we are royalty, children of the King of kings.

Erin Baston said...

This is so true. you are so smart. I love you for having a blog i like to read.

InterestedCommentator4 said...

I want not to be able to worry about my body, eat healthy, not be plagued by diseases, but when I don't focus on my weight I have trouble with walking which gets me into anorexic thinking and such.

Anonymous said...

I remember saying to Chris when we were first married, "I'm not happy with the way I look now (at 24 yrs old), and I know that it's all downhill from here (old age, things start to sag etc etc). If I can't be happy with myself now (when I'm at my 'hottest'), how can I bear to grow older?"

Since having a baby though, my perspective has totally changed. It's a cliche, but my focus is on being a mum and a wife, rather than on being a hot individual or being labelled 'sexy' by random strangers in the street. My body (and I'm still pretty slim in the eyes of the world) shows who I am - each curve and sag and dimple that the world labels as unattractive is a badge of honour that represents a sacrifice I made as a mum. I'm currently putting on weight again as I'm nearly 7 months pregnant again, and although I sometimes fret over the way I look, I try to remember it's just superficial.

It's so hard though, especially when we are totally bombarded by the media with the way we should look...