Body hate. It’s such a sad pairing of words. I remember from my anorexic days that dark sensation of so despising myself, I was willing (even eager) to make the ‘skin’ I was in disappear.
Maybe this feeling is familiar to you. Or maybe ‘hate’ seems too strong a word. How about ‘body dissatisfaction’? In our world, with its endless opportunities to compare, very few people are satisfied with their appearance—always wishing some feature looked, well, like someone else’s.
This kind of thinking steals from us in so many ways. It robs our joy. It lowers our sense of worth. And it keeps us from growing into who we were made to be.
In my last post, I asked you to join me in breaking free from pressure to fit the world’s ‘perfect’ mould. How’s that going for you? It can be hard to swim upstream alone. Here are some strategies I’ve found helpful.
- Shift your Gaze
The house we’re renting is full of mirrors. Almost everywhere I turn, I’m faced with my reflection—not ideal for someone who wants to set her sights higher. While we can’t remove the mirrors, I’ve found a way to adjust my focus.
Attached to our large bathroom mirror are several slips of paper, each bearing a short quote. Every morning when I’m dressing, I shift my gaze to those words and remind myself what matters most.
People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7)
You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honour God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Set your mind on things above (Colossians 3:20).
These words remind me my appearance isn’t my primary feature—even though it’s the one people see first. It’s my heart that sets the course for my life. That’s what I need to check as I head into each day. Am I at peace? Am I ready to love the people around me? What needs to change?
- Train Your Mind
Every day we’re bombarded with lies. Every day we need to replace them with truth. Romans 12:2 says we’re transformed by the renewing of our minds. This renewal doesn’t happen by chance. It comes when we stop, recognize the destructive thoughts taking root in our mind, rip them out and replace them with truth.
Reading words on the mirror helps. Speaking the words aloud—whether to ourselves, in prayer or in conversation with others—is even more powerful. Many times, my spirit has lifted as I’ve chosen to voice God’s words of promise over a difficult situation. The more we feed on His truth, the brighter our perspective grows.
How about our technology use? What are we looking at, reading, listening to? All of these are seeds we’re sowing into the soil of our minds. Recent studies have shown a clear connection between online media use and body dissatisfaction—even in young children! Maybe it’s time we think about cutting back.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2
- Feed Your Body
That’s right. Feed it, don’t starve it. Your body is an amazing creation and needs nourishment, rest and sensible exercise to function well. Eating a well-rounded diet brings stability to our emotions, helping us have a more positive outlook. And choosing to nurture, rather than deprive, our bodies brings a heart change, sending the pendulum swinging away from body hate closer to love.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
- Find Your Purpose
We were made to be so much more than a good-looking ornament. Life is a gift to be embraced with all we have. In each of us God has put a deposit of His nature—a handpicked mix of personality, passions and gifts. Even before we were conceived, He had a specific path in mind for our lives. As we grow in knowing Him, He reveals more of His purpose for us and our sense of value grows.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
- Bless Others
The closer we draw to God’s heart, the more His love for others seeps into our veins. We realize life is not all about us—how we look or the image we project. It’s about people–living with them, loving them, seeing their needs, letting them see ours and each playing our part to boost each other on the journey. When we live this way—pursuing God and loving others—we find fulfilment that goes far deeper than any superficial happiness.
It shouldn’t be surprising, really. After all, it’s what we were made for.
Jesus (said), ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your mind . . . (and) Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37