I felt fat when I woke up this morning.
Okay, some people say you can’t “feel” fat. Fat’s not an emotion. But, I reached down and grabbed a few inches on each thigh. I felt fat. Literally.
Now I have to decide what to do with that feeling.
My physical options are obviously limited. Short of scheduling a liposuction appointment for this afternoon, there’s not a whole lot I can do to change my thighs before dinnertime.
The bigger battle is: What do I do with this “feeling” in my brain.
How do I not obsess over my body image today?
I’ve been working on this body image issue (and how it affects Christian women, especially) for a few years now. I find that ninety percent of the women I communicate with are struggling, in some way, with the same negative thoughts and feelings that I daily battle. They feel “fat” too, or say they just feel “ugly,” not “good” enough, unattractive, or undesirable.
Then there’s the ten percent—these women seem to have this body image issue licked. Either they walked through it and found freedom, or were blessed to never have struggle in this arena. (Though they do have other struggles!)
What made this ten percent different? I determined to figure it out.
So, I did what any industrious woman would do in this day and age. I stalked them. Ummm. . . scratch that. I mean—I researched them. And what I found is that they do some of the same things the rest of us strugglers do—weigh themselves, work out, think about changing their hair or getting new clothes—but they think differently. It’s like they have a secret filter in their brains, helping them avoid body image bondage.
What’s in that secret filter?
These four things: These are the secrets that woman with healthy body image know:
- Looking like “her” is not a goal. I noticed that women with healthy body image didn’t have pictures of other women whom they hoped to look like hanging on their fridge, mirror, or even on a Pinterest board. These women know that their body likely will never mold, shape, or morph into looking like the body of someone else–short of involving a surgeon. They don’t obsess over body parts to change because they have bigger goals than “getting her abs.” They focus on those other goals–loving their families better, serving others, using the talents God has given them to work, create, and accomplish. They know that even if they could “look like her” it wouldn’t last forever anyway.
- Numbers make lousy life coaches. While listening to women with healthy body image, you’ll rarely hear them mention their weight, their size, or their body fat percentage. They may not even know these numbers, so they don’t feel as if someone has trampled on their soul when those numbers fluctuate. The filters in their brains sift out all thoughts of associating value with body size. They don’t look to the numbers to find their affirmation, either.
- Food is Just Food. This one always amazes me. Women with healthy body image enjoy food without obsessing over it. They can leave half a brownie on their plate because they know they’ll have more the next time they are craving something gooey and chocolate-y. They have a keen awareness that food is something that they need for nourishment and nothing else. They don’t get emotional about food or plan their days around their meals. They eat to live, instead of living to eat.
- Variety is the spice of life. Women with healthy body image have a greater appreciation for the ways in which God made women look different. They don’t pine after attaining one particular look. They have rejected the enemy’s lie that there is only one type of beautiful woman. Instead, they’ve replaced it with the truth that beauty is more than a physical attribute. They believe that many women are uniquely beautiful in an endless variety of ways.
Wondering where you find a filter like this? Me too. I asked these women where to get reprogrammed. They had no clue what I was talking about. I attempted to find these filters on sale. I Googled it. But there were no entries for “healthy body image brain filter.”
So what do we filter-less women do?
I believe we take a cue from the new movie, “War Room” and pray. We pray for God to show us the truth about our value. We pray for God to give us that filter to see ourselves as He sees us. And, we pray for Him to show us the depths of His love so that we can spend more time looking to him for affirmation than looking at our scales, size tags or mirrors.
How do we become women with healthy body image?
We seek Him first.
And, that’s really no secret at all.