It’s Asher here again, and today I’ll be bringing you the first post of our new series: Body Image! It’ll run for the rest of March – stay tuned for future posts from Hannah and Nancy.
Let’s dive in!
I don’t know about you, but one of my greatest struggles is comparing myself to others. She’s so much smarter than me. He’s more athletic than I’ll ever be. How come I can’t be a leader in church like she is? The same struggle certainly applies to body image.
In this day and age when we are bombarded with pictures of how we “should” look, whether it be on TV, billboards by the highway or on social media, it’s almost impossible not to notice how we don’t look like that “ideal” girl.
The thing is – that “perfect” girl doesn’t exist. No two people’s perceptions of beauty are the same. For example, in the States, where most of you come from, many people think it’s desirable to have tanned skin. But where I live in China, it’s the opposite – most people consider girls with lighter skin as prettier! There is no real definition for beauty. So why should it define you?
One that I can be sure about, though, is having a godly character does make you beautiful. Make a mental list of people who are beautiful to you – maybe it’s your mom, who selflessly cares for you and your siblings, or your best friend, who’s always there to make you laugh, or your English teacher, who always compliments her students. It’s unlikely that all of the people on your list would be considered as conventionally gorgeous, but because of the way they treat others, they are beautiful to you.
Okay, so physical beauty shouldn’t define us – having inner beauty is more important. Great! So, how do we stop comparing? Here are a few suggestions:
• Be accepting. God carefully designed you before you existed, and make you look the way you do for a reason. It may be hard, but try to acknowledge that God made you the way you are, imperfections and all. Instead of trying to look like someone else, learn to embrace the way you look!
• Be busy. Of course, overworking yourself isn’t the idea here! But do invest your time in something you enjoy, whether that’s theatre club, writing in your Talking-To-God Journal, or just talking long bubble baths. You’ll find that your priorities will change quickly – worries about not looking pretty enough are soon replaced by thoughts about your new hobbies. As one of my classmates said, you can’t check if others’ grass is greener if you’re too busy watering your own.
• Be kind. We have so many harsh thoughts about our own bodies – my eyebrows aren’t thick enough, my stomach isn’t flat enough, I’m never going to look good enough – but we would never say such things to somebody else! If you struggle particularly with this, write a little contract, promising yourself that you will think and speak about your body as if it were a friend’s. And if you’re in the middle of picking out your flaws, challenge yourself to pick a feature you like for every “flaw”.
• Be careful. Do you fall into a black hole of comparing yourself to other girls when on Instagram? Tend to question your beauty when you’re with your dance class friends, who seem to only talk about makeup and diets? Feel ashamed of yourself when that guy in your Chemistry class picks on your glasses? Get out of these situations if you can! Delete the Instagram app on your phone. Find a new group of friends at dance class. Tell the Chemistry guy his teasing is crossing a line, and if he doesn’t listen, tell the teacher. Your confidence is something to be protected!
• Be positive. Along the same lines of be careful, fill your life with things that are uplifting. Were you around during our ‘Whatever’ series? Yeah, the one about the verse “Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.” So, do choose environments, friends and websites which make you feel satisfied with yourself.
• Be prayerful. Write about your comparison troubles in your Talking-To-God Journal, and keep on reading the Bible regularly (or start a Bible-reading routine if you haven’t already). As you learn more about true inner beauty and just how much God loves you, the need to be pretty enough will fade away. What’s “pretty enough”, anyways? It doesn’t get much more beautiful than spending time with God.
So, if you’d like to comment: how are you going to prevent comparing yourself to others this week? Will you try complimenting yourself, stop going on Instagram for a while or pray about it? Let us know! While you’re at it, share a feature about yourself that you love, physical or not. We know you’re beautiful already!
Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!