Body Image

I stumbled across a support website about women’s bodies recently. Along the same thread of thought that provoked my first post on beauty, I am inspired to think and write about how we view our bodies. Bear with me as I work through my thoughts with a keyboard.

The female body is sensual. God designed men to be inherently attracted to its curves and motion. There is decent reasoning behind some cultures’ decision to cover their women up in loose-fitting garments and probably better reasoning behind the sex industry covering very little. Our creator knew what he was doing when he came up with the template for our bodies. They are meant to be enjoyed {within a marriage} for their aesthetic qualities.
But they are not merely enjoyable. They are quite functional. In fact, some of the nearly universally unattractive parts of our bodies are the most useful. I will not give examples because even the thought of these parts make us grimace; which proves my point. We would die without them, but we very rarely want to look at them. Sorry, now I have you thinking about things over which you could lose your lunch…. Think instead of puppies. Puppies are adorable. 
There are also parts of our bodies that are very attractive and very useful. Breasts for example. They are exploited to cause men to lust and patronize companies of debauchery, but they are also the vehicle for custom-tailored, God intended, life giving nutrients for an innocent, hungry baby. Some of the recent uproar over mothers who nurse in public highlights to me the serious problem we have with over-sexualizing our bodies {particularly the female body since, while it does mean something, women really don’t lose it over the male body in the same way men do over the female counterpart}. There is encouragement in our culture for women to wear whatever they want – to embrace their sexual nature. We get you-go-girls when we wear low cut shirts and short skirts. We are told that men are pigs if they holler at us, even when our outfits leave little to the imagination. It is our feminist right, they say, to dress however we want. Damn the male mind. They must overcome their biology and control themselves. While that is true, it is also foolish to believe that in a world where people feel entitled already, where we are told to “follow our hearts” and adhere to our feelings, men will always control themselves. And that even if they do, that they are not objectifying the woman in their minds, thereby respecting her less in reality. Conversely, if a woman exercises her “right” to nurse her child in public this is considered uncouth, even offensive. People have no problem seeing breasts on display in push-up bras, but to see them used for their actual functional purpose reminds them that breasts are not meant to only be carnally used. It affronts our culture’s theories on existence. We are not put on this planet simply to enjoy ourselves. This is an uncomfortable truth to a culture of Hedonists.
All of this to say that I think we in danger of losing the appreciation for the divinely bestowed beauty that is our bodies. It is sensual, yes, but not exclusively. It is functional, yes, but not ultimately. There are aspects to our physical selves which point to greater truths and parts which help us carry out our commission as humans. As a woman ages and her body begins to betray her life’s work it should be celebrated, not scorned. The line I now have on my stomach is a sweet reminder to me that RJ was in me, that I carried her and that my body gave her life. It is a daily note to myself that she is here because of a sacrifice I was more than willing to make. An honor. The stretch marks that the world tells me are ugly only mark me because of my very heart, my beautiful RJ. Honestly, right now, I don’t want the creams and the ointments to try and make them go away. Whatever the media says, I am proud to be a mother and to carry the tattoos of my mothering. 
7 months pregnant with RJ

I know that many women have much more severe scars – cesarean scars, extra and wrinkly skin on their stomachs, darker stretch marks – that cause them to feel less than beautiful. I will not insult these women by telling them to get over their insecurities. These are deeply rooted, constantly affirmed feelings that are sometimes impossible to control. I will however encourage them by saying this: you are magnificent. You are stunning. The ways your body changed as a result of being a woman are noble to the highest degree. You are no martyr and you are no victim. You are the life-giving, insanely strong, passionately loving Woman that your family needs to exist. Your body is a vessel of Christ. You selflessly contribute yourself to bring life into the world. Your children are here because you kept them safe in your womb. Your body is being used by our Creator to create! Do not get caught up in it’s wonders, but do relish in what God is able to do with the body you find vastly imperfect.

I hope that the Lord will grant me a contentedness with my body as I {if he allows} give birth to more children and get older. I will not pretend to be somehow “above” the insecurities and the discouragement. For now I’m grateful for the revelation and the peace he’s giving me. I pray that this leaves you with a lighter burden in some way or at least a new perspective to consider. 

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