Throughout the years, I have struggled with body image. I know this is a common struggle, especially among women. When the world is telling you that you need to look a certain way and that may be impossible to change, it can feel like you’re trapped…stuck, feeling as though everyone notices your insecurities and feels the same way you do…embarrassed and/or ashamed of your image. However, as a wonderful creation of the Lord, that is not how we are called to view ourselves (Psalm 139:13-16)!
What do you do when you feel ashamed of the body you are in?
1. Remember that your body is not YOU.
It can be extremely difficult to separate the two. However, your physical body is an outer shell. You are a soul, designed by our loving Creator. Your body is important, but it’s not who you are. It is a vessel to take care of but not obsess over. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” When we maintain our physical health, we honor God. While we are to take care of the body God has given us, we have to remember that it is possible to go one of two unhealthy routes. We can idolize fitness and health the same way we can ignore our body’s nutritional and physical needs. Take care of your body without finding your value in your appearance. If you find yourself continually obsessing over your body, I encourage you to seek Christian counsel. Some women do not realize they are fighting an unhealthy body image or an eating disorder until they seek help.
2. Pray about your struggle with comparison.
I have seen the damage that comes with constantly looking at what others have. This is true in many facets of life but can become intrusive when comparing our physical traits with others’. When women whom I find beautiful share their insecurities, I am shocked. How can someone who has all of the traits that others envy feel insecure? The truth is that most people have something they would change if they could. If you are struggling with constantly wishing you could look like someone else, it will consume you. You will never be satisfied in the blessings God has given you if you are always looking at others. What the world says you need to look like is always changing. Galatians 1:10 says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
3. Seek healthy fellowship/mentorship.
Many of our self-esteem issues stem simply from the people you surround yourself with. If your community is not uplifting, pointing you to the truth of Scripture, it will be very difficult to see yourself the way God sees you. This includes our online community. You may not even realize how viewing the world through filters impacts your perception. It can be difficult to be joyful where you are when you see others’ seemingly perfect bodies and lives. Personally, I have been blessed with a community that is always pointing me toward a biblical view of body image, and I can see how much this impacts my own.
Something that I have tried to put into practice is learning how to take my thoughts captive. As soon as a discouraging thought comes into your head, challenge it. Is this thought true or is it a lie you have been told from the world? Is this how God sees me? For this to become routine, it will take time. I would tell anyone who is struggling to see herself how God sees her that it is often a continuous journey. Lean into the truth of God’s Word continuously as you grow in this area.