Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Body Image and Good News

On the Body Image Project's website you will find the stories of young women who are struggling with our culture's messages. What struck me was their ages. Twenty, twenty-five, sixteen. All young. I'm still struggling with body image at age forty-six. Some unsolicited advice for the young women:

1. Don't think, "I will outgrow this." It could be dogging you when you're my age.

The good news: you don't have to wait til some magic age when you think you'll be over your body image struggle. Fight the messages now and win. A start: assume every photo of a woman in a magazine is altered. It probably is.

2. Don't imagine you'll find your true love and his approval will help. My brain found ways around that, like, "He's settling for my body because he loves me."

The good news: A man's approval is nice, but not necessary.

3. Don't rely on time to level the playing field. Sure, as we age, even "the most beautiful" people wrinkle, and gravity pulls everything downward. But you'll find excuses. "Look at her. She's fifty and still thin. It's not fair."

 The good news: Your worth is not wrapped up in looking young and beautiful according to someone else's standard. Your worth is in being the work of the Creator.

Our Creator is all about good news. Seems to be a pattern with my God.

Monday, September 8, 2014


I live a pretty sheltered life. But sometimes another woman gives me a peek into the real world and what it feels like to be dehumanized. A friend gave me permission to share her story. These are her words except names have been changed. Some rough language is included, so be careful about who's reading over your shoulder.


In the past week, two people have asked me to show them body parts. These people are complete strangers to me. I was walking out of a bar, and a boy stopped me and said, "Will you show me your boobs?" I slapped the left side of his face. In the other incident, a text message from an unrecognized caller came around midnight.

"Is this Ashley?" the text said.
"Yes, who is this?" I asked.
"This is Mike. I have a friend who says you have a really nice ass, and I was wondering if you would mind showing me."

I hate to say that I responded ungraciously, telling him, "**** you." I will have to repent of that. I felt dehumanized, devalued, like I was reduced to the size of my breasts or the shape of my butt. I am pretty self-confident and really don't struggle with body image, so it catches me off-guard when I feel so low. I cannot believe the lack of respect these boys had for me. What in the world makes them think they have the right to ask to see my body?

How would girls who are not as self-confident respond? Would they show the boys something to be treasured to boost their self-esteem? Would they be grateful someone thought they were attractive and give in? These boys are like hyenas roaming through Africa on a hunt, trying their luck to find the weak antelope. They make a "kill" and see what they want to see, and it's a confidence booster for them.

Sometimes I enjoy the flattery when the guy I'm dating says something appropriate about the way I look, but I really just want someone to ask me an intellectual question. People assume I cannot be smart and look the way I do. My intelligence is the thing I value most about myself, and I hate it when that gets overlooked.

Any girl or woman should know she is so much more than the size of her breasts and shape of her butt. She was given unbelievable gifts from the King of the universe, and she should be valued for her soul and her heart.


Couldn't have said it better myself, friend. Thanks for your candor. Stay strong, sister.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Overweight and Discrimination

Overweight = unhealthy. Right? Not so fast, says Lindsey Averill, the maker of "Fattitude," a documentary slated to be finished in 2015. The film aims to expose discrimination against overweight people. When a fundraiser for the movie went online, Ms.Averill received death threats.

The discrimination is real.

Of course, it's reasonable to say that being overweight implies the person would be healthier at a lower weight.

But how do we know the thin person is healthy? She could be a smoker or have an eating disorder. However, at first glance, she gets the benefit of the doubt. Not so for the larger person.

But everyone knows that overweight people are lazy and self-indulgent.
Well, yes, some of them are. And some thin people are, too. How much self-control do I have?

Well, let's see. Sometimes I yell at my kids, ignore my husband, do exactly what I want when I want without considering the needs of others, and I eat unhealthy food.  Occasionally. Give me a break -- it was Hershey's chocolate, ok? You probably will give me a break because I'm not overweight -- even if my behavior was irresponsible.

But if an overweight person eats the chocolate, we scowl at her. Even when we know nothing about her. We don't hire her because we assume she's lazy when she may be a hard worker. We don't trust her to help with a project because we assume she can't control herself when she may be the one on the team with the greatest integrity.

The next time you see a large person eating chocolate, don't jump to conclusions. Just ask her if she has any to share. If she gives you some, that's a person you want to get to know.