‘Spiderman: Far From Home’ Helped Me See That I’m Living With a Teenage Superhero

Will you ever write about boys and body image?

Moms ask me this question often, and I am the perfect mom/writer to ask.  Because I have many boys. And, to be honest, all of them are already asking questions about their bodies. When it comes to looking at themselves in the mirror, they do what girls do — compare their bodies with others, inquire about how to lose weight and how to gain muscle, and (for some ridiculous reason) pinch the skin around their mid-sections and make critical comments.

I am befuddled.  I do not understand the male brain.

But I do understand some of my boys’ body image concerns. For now, I am doing three things to stand alongside them as they grow and form their identity.

  1. I am listening.
  2. I am encouraging (when I can speak encouraging truth).
  3. I am watching movies with them.

Why I am doing the first two things is fairly obvious.  It’s all the adult-talk these days.  Listening and encouraging is part of loving.  But the third?

The third helps me see what my boys are comparing themselves against.  And more than anything, watching this movie convinced me I am exactly on the right track.

Tom Holland nails his role as the teenage protagonist, Peter Parker, in Spiderman: Far From Home.  Occasionally awkward, easily embarrassed, and intelligent in that endearing and slightly geeky way, Holland reminds us that Spiderman is both a superhero with unlimited potential and a teen boy just trying to be normal.

But what I loved about this movie was what it helped me realize after the credits (and two post-credit scenes) finished scrolling the movie screen.

The obstacles my teenager faces are very similar to those that Peter Parker encounters throughout his maturing role as Spiderman. And though the obstacles might not seem body image related, it seems there is a common thread that runs through obstacles that most teenagers face.

Identity is on the line. And our identity is essentially this; it is how we see ourselves.  In the mirror.  Through the eyes of others.  On a good day, our identity is based on how Our Father sees us — unique, beautifully crafted, and redeemed.

Similarity #1: The Villain Is Far More Complicated Than He Appears

As you might guess, Far From Home has one heck of a nasty villain.  He is unpredictable, evil to the core, and manipulative, which makes him exactly the kind of bad guy we enjoy cheering against.

He is very similar to the real villain my son faces every day.

Just to give you context, most of our summer mornings have played out like this.  I’m putting up dishes, and my oldest lumbers into the kitchen, mutters that he hasn’t had enough sleep (after waking up at 8 am), and complains about what I don’t have in the fridge for breakfast. He sighs as he begrudgingly grabs a yogurt and asks me a laundry list of questions about what I’m planning for the day, meanwhile expressing exhaustion at what I have planned.

I find myself confused and defensive.  How can he already be so disappointed?  He just woke up! 

But when I take a step back and choose to see what is really happening, I realize that my son is not the enemy.  He is, however, suffering bombardment from Satan who wants to steal his joy from the moment his feet hit the floor.

Much like the best of villains, Satan is unpredictable, evil to the core, and manipulative. And, unfortunately, he wants my son’s attention.

When I choose to recognize Satan’s attempt to get a foothold here, I am quick to draw near to the Spirit to help me see my son how the Lord sees him. 

With the Spirit’s help, I have the power to give my son a hug when he is looking at me, slumped over and grumpy.  And on a really good morning, I can offer my son grace as I offer the same options I always do for breakfast without letting it steal my joy as I savor my last few sips of warm coffee.

Similarity #2: Peter Parker, The Hero (in training) Has to Learn How to Navigate Relationships

Relationships are hard.  And between Peter Parker trying to make his affections known to MJ and working diligently to protect his friends from harm, our friendly neighborhood Spiderman also has to figure out who he can really trust.

Juleeta Harvey
Juleeta Harveyhttps://www.bodytruth.org/
I'm Juleeta C. Harvey - pursuer of the living Jesus, encourager to my man and our five boys, and writer of body image truth. Find me writing at www.bodytruth.org.

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