Friday, May 31, 2013

Beach Body

"You're wrong, Wendy," my friend protested.
"The beach is the BEST place for it."            

In a blog post I said the beach was the worst place to go if you have body image issues. There are hundreds of practically naked people. When I lounge on the shore, I occasionally glance up from my magazine and watch humanity walk by. That's when I am sorely tempted to compare myself to other women.

"Au contraire," said my friend, who writes the blog, and is a size 28. "At the beach it's obvious that no one has the body the media promotes. It's the great equalizer."

She's right. How often do you see someone with the perfect body? What is perfect? And how many times have you thought, "Well, at least I look better than that woman. Honestly -- someone needs to tell her that heavy women should not wear bikinis."

Who is allowed to wear a bikini? Leaving modesty issues aside for a moment, if we insist that a woman's body must be perfect to don a bikini, aren't we saying that most people are unacceptable? And our standard is a lie preached by our culture.

Now, I wish some people would wear more than the handkerchief-sized suit they strapped on. But my reason for that should be, "modesty is important," and NOT "you're too fat/busty/flat-chested/fill-in-the-blank."

Don't buy the lies sold by the media. And let's hear it for a bit more modesty. It'll save you money on sunscreen.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Senior Pictures

Remember that black shoulder drape they made you wear for your high school senior picture?

That was so 1980s. Or 90s maybe.
Nowadays some parents are shelling out major bucks for a private
 photo session on location. And did I mention the hair stylist and
 make-up artist who work you over before you smile for the camera?

After reading about this trend in the Wall Street Journal and feeling
indignant, the truth came back to haunt me.  I said to myself,
"Now, Wendy, did you not just pay a professional photographer
to take pictures of your seven-year-old daughter in a lovely little
garden near your home?" Okay, I'm busted. I'm just jealous because
I didn't have a makeover and wardrobe consultation when I had my
senior pictures taken.

But something caught my eye in the Journal article. One young lady noted that in the photos her face looked "flawless with no blemishes . . . . It's just so reassuring." When one photographer took the photo proofs to the students' homes, the girls "would pore over them for hours looking for imperfections."

Ah, perfection, that elusive dream. At least the girl whose blemishes were erased realized a photograph doesn't always show reality. A photographer can touch up a spot here, erase a wart there. Does the girl understand that they do the same thing with the pictures of professional models? Does she know her real face is beautiful simply because it's her face? When she applies mascara does she know her eyes are the window to her lovely soul, to paraphrase the old proverb?

God delights in your beauty. So go to the photo shoot and have fun. But remember that your beauty doesn't need to be retouched. For you are forever graced by the fingerprints of God.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Anorexia and OCD

Is your fight against the culture's lies a mental
struggle or a mental illness?                                                       

Every woman wrestles with our culture. Media tells us we're not pretty enough or thin enough or curvy enough. But what if the struggle takes over your life? One example is anorexia nervosa. The mental fight crosses a line, and the obsession with being thin drives the victim to starve herself.  It's a physical illness requiring medical intervention.

In my case the illness is not anorexia but obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). A psychiatrist diagnosed me thirty years ago. It affects how I view my body.  I am small-busted, and our culture constantly tells me my figure is ugly. "You're not a woman," is what I hear whenever I glance at a magazine cover.

I've thought about it every day since I was twelve. That's 11,680 days of feeling inadequate. (I'll do the math for you -- I'm 44.) Thanks to a drug called Wellbutrin, OCD no longer controls my life, but it's probably involved in my body image issues. This realization led me to talk to a counselor about it a year ago, and the counseling has helped.

Have you -- or has a friend -- crossed a line? I know nothing about diagnosing eating disorders. I know a lot about suffering from OCD, but even so, I'm not an M.D. If you think you may need it, get a professional involved.  

And leave a comment here or on facebook for me. You may not need the help of a professional, but if you're like me, you do need the support of fellow soldiers in the fight against our culture's lies.