This might be a little unpopular, but I have had it on my heart to share my thoughts so I’m digging deep into the courage canyon and writing the words that swirl in my head so often. I want to talk about this whole idea of body shaming. I want to tread lightly because I know it is a tough subject for many, and I want you to know right off the bat that I struggle with my own body image.
I do not consider myself “fat,” but I am most certainly larger than a size ten. And if you asked my physician, she would call me “obese” according to some great medical formula. That used to make me feel bad about myself.
Ever since having kids, my weight has fluctuated from one extreme to the next. I was the coveted size eight and now I am lucky to squeeze into a size 14. I avoid buying new clothes because they seem to be shrinking. I’m happy in my yoga pants and t-shirts. Long live leggings and sweatshirts too! I have learned to love what I feel good in and what I look good in. They are one in the same for me.
I don’t think I am “obese.” But here’s the thing – I also don’t think I belong in a bikini. Or skinny jeans. Or a little black dress. Those articles of clothing do not make me look good or feel good. I want to wear clothes that flatter my body, not draw attention to its unflattering parts. When people look at me, I want them to see a strong, confident woman and not visualize a can of biscuits about to explode.
I want to believe the best about people – including the people who body shame. I want to believe they meant to say something in a different way. A little softer, maybe. I want to believe they have good intentions in voicing their opinions. I do. And I also want to believe the best about the people on the other end of the spectrum. The people who make it very clear they can and will dress however they darn well feel like dressing, and maybe even dress inappropriately out of spite in the name of making a statement. I don’t always understand the statements people desire to make on either end of the spectrum, but here is the statement I want to make today.
It doesn’t matter.
Seriously. It doesn’t matter what that one person thinks about you or your weight or your clothing or your hair or your makeup…or anything. Stop reacting to others. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Free speech allows us to speak our opinion. But the key thing we tend to forget is that people are also allowed to disagree with our opinion. To me, beauty doesn’t mean a size zero runway model, with long legs and flawless make-up. But beauty also doesn’t mean stuffing your body into something inappropriate for your body just to make a point. You may agree or disagree. I will love you either way.
But before I step up on a high box, let’s take a step back. This concept of beauty has another dimension to it - one worth looking into a bit closer.
I love Psalm 8 because it is the perfect reminder for me to look for the glory of God in other people – all people. Skinny people. Not-so-skinny people. People with big hair and nerdy glasses. Plain people and eccentric people. People who rock all the fashion trends and people who should look at the current fashion trends. God made man – you and me – a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned us with glory and honor.
That is nothing to take lightly. Track with me for a second…
God made everything you see. The majestic skies. The lush greenery. The snowy top mountains. The rocks in their wonderous shapes and sizes. And he made us. His most prized possession. Not only did he create us, but he created us in his image (hello, Genesis 1:27). And if you connect that line of thought to Psalm 8, then when you look at someone, you can only look at them with the intent to see the glory of God. Psalm 8 does not say anything about your idea of fit or healthy or skinny. It does not put forth rules of who can wear leggings or what dresses are appropriate for particular body types. In fact, you won’t find anything in Psalm 8 about body types – only glory. God’s glory. As reflected in us. The people he so carefully created.
Someone has to take the first step. Someone has to be brave enough to take a stand. Someone has to be bold enough to see real beauty. Beauty without limitations and restrictions. Beauty that will change the world for the better.
So, what do you say? Can we put away the signs and crazy talk? Let’s stop grumbling and start encouraging. Lift each other up with kind words and helpful gestures. Let’s put smiles on those lips smeared with glossy color and extend grace while we learn to love people who look different from us. Maybe better. Maybe worse. Always beautiful. Let’s take the time to see the glory of God in the people we are surrounded by each and every day. And for goodness sake, let's not lose sight of the importance of reflecting the glory of God to a world with a warped sense of beauty.