The Incredible Shrinking Body: A Commentary on Body Image & Our Culture

     Recently I involuntarily caught a statement made by Mariah Carey flashing across a ticker during a news show. The report was about how she had gotten into shape after delivering twins. She stated that she was glad that she had gotten her body back. With no facetious intent, my first thought was “I didn’t know she had lost her body. Where did it go?” I would think that pregnancy would make one more grateful for what one’s body does and can do, especially in the creation process of the miracle of life.

Instead of honoring the fact that women are bearers of life (which is a pretty miraculous feat) our culture sees the real miracle as movie stars who return to their previous figure six weeks post delivery.

    Sadly, our culture has objectified women’s bodies. Instead of honoring the fact that women are bearers of life (which is a pretty miraculous feat) our culture sees the real miracle as movie stars who return to their previous figure six weeks post delivery. What a shame. It is unfortunate that women cannot identify themselves with having pregnant bodies. Instead, the concept of the body they own is compared to a lofty pedestal of the ideal (the pre-pregnancy body, high school senior body, or worse yet, the body of fill in the blank of most sought after actress’ body).

    How do we change the culture? I posit that the only way to change the culture is through where we put our money. If we continue to buy the magazines with emaciated stars peering back at us in the grocery store checkout aisle, then the fashion industry and popular media will continue to flood the market with these bone-thin ideals. So what about it, women? Can we all stop getting caught up in the mainstream and get on the same bandwagon to stop buying into this madness?

    Unfortunately, too many are drowning in the abyss of mainstream culture and will continue to strive for plastic perfection. On an individual level those struggling and ready to abandon societal ideals can make some significant changes.

1.) Use “honoring” speech when thinking or talking about your body. I regularly see women who have derogatory views of their bodies. You are going to have to stop calling yourself negative things. This will take practice. Stand in front of a mirror and think about what your body does for you. Talk to God about it. Thank Him for the living, breathing creature you are! Do this daily and you will break the habit. (Note: for those of you with daughters, NEVER call yourself fat or say negative things about your looks (this includes your hair, face, etc.). Your daughter having a positive body image begins with YOU!)

2.) Have a healthy lifestyle. Wait a minute, you say, I thought you were just denouncing a culture fed off of diets, now you’re asking me to change the way I eat? 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 admonishes, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” When you replace the motivation behind being healthy, it makes a difference. Diets are not a lifestyle. If you cannot commit to a new activity the way you have developed the habit of brushing your teeth every day, then it is time to reassess what you are doing. This includes exercise. Finding physical activities that are fun is paramount. Why bother boot camp-style cardio if you don’t find it fun? Nothing is more encouraging than having a fun workout that improves your overall physical and mental health. (Note: a workout can be canoeing. A workout can be playing outside with your kids. Get my drift?)

3.) Be the change. Empower women and girls. Value the gifts inside of each. Flesh and bone will eventually fail. If we spent the time we spend on dreaming up how we should look instead on spiritual growth, developing our talents gifted by God, and being good to one another our world we be drastically changed. This means encouraging one another. It means being intentional. Our culture is so busy tearing women down, let’s build our sisters up! We’re queens and princesses under the one true King! Live in that victory!

Posted by Laura Ketchie | Counselor

Laura Ketchie, LPC is a counselor who specializes in women's issues. Her favorite verse is: "...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:8-9

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