I have been struggling with body image ever since I was in middle school. It seems like a pretty common issue among young women. Back then, I thought none of the boys liked me because I was “too fat.” (I was nowhere near “fat,” but I came up with this lie about myself, thinking there must have been something wrong with me.) This lie has stuck with me even through college.
I like to think of myself as a pretty positive person, but when it comes to my body, I can be pretty critical. When I look down at my stomach or my calves, I don’t see a beautiful gift from God, or limbs that move at my command—I only see the negatives. I notice that when I look down, I often don’t see good. Rather, I saw fat, faults, and flaws that I regard as pathetic results of my carelessness. Why is it that I easily can point out the beauty in others, but when it comes to myself, I cannot help but pick out the faults?
And to make it all worse, I constantly compare myself to others. When I see someone tall and slender, I suddenly feel short and fat. When I see someone with skinny legs, arms, and abs, I suddenly feel lazy. And the list goes on. Why am I like this? Why can’t I just rejoice in the beauty of others without forgetting my own?
But really— each body is so amazing. Not only is every body unique in so many ways (fingerprints, hair texture, eye color, etc.), but every body is truly a miracle made in the image and likeness of God. Every body has so much potential. When you see a baby, you can see how the baby’s legs are likely going to grow and how the human body is made to get stronger, to stretch, and to transform.
I think if we saw the full potential of our bodies, we could start to see the full potential of our whole selves—our souls, how we spend our time, and our relationships.
Bodies heal themselves, they fight for our health, they can get tan, they give you endorphins, they can sit for hours. Bodies can leap, run, lay, swim, crawl, dance, twist, bend, sit, kick, squat—the possibilities are limitless. Bodies can even be art (i.e. through dance, sports, or makeup), and bodies can even express a language.
I think it really sad how easy it is to misuse our own bodies— whether that be using them to do evil, or doing nothing with them. Either way involves not trying to achieve their full potential to do good.
So many times we neglect our bodies. We find ourselves spending hours idly sitting on our butts, comparing ourselves to people on Instagram. It is so easy to take our bodies for granted. Think about all the people who would love to spend a day with a completely healthy body with all of its parts moving fluently— the elderly who cannot walk any more, the amputees who would love to just walk normally again, etc.
Your body is a gift, so next time you look at your leg and only see fat or some other insecurity, think for a moment about who else in the world would long for functioning legs, or to be young again, or to have the great capacity for healing and cherishing that beautiful instrument.