When Beauty is a Beast

Psalm139Some days… when standing before my reflection, stripped of everything… motives, guilt, expectations, past images, I can honestly look at my body and speak the words of Psalm 139 with great certainty.

I do well most of the time, but when the body image monster sneaks up on me, it does so with a vengeance. I go from being comfortable in my skin to feeling like the reflection in a fun-house mirror. I wonder whose body I’m trapped in and when the merger occurred. I see my curves as too curvy. My hair appears dull. My laugh lines are deep and obvious. My image is distorted.

It’s no secret that my relationship with food and exercise is less than ideal.

(I’m honored to be writing for Leading and Loving It today. Will you join me over there and read the rest of this post?)

I’m a hypocrite

Some days… when standing before my reflection stripped of everything… motives, guilt, expectations, past images, I can honestly look at my body and speak the words of Psalm 139 with great certainty.

There are other days when I stand before the mirror and wonder whose body I’m trapped in and when the merger occurred. I look at my curves as too curvy. My hair appears dull. My laugh lines are deep and obvious. My image is distorted.

These are the times when the Father whispers my name, Chosen one. Beloved daughter. I have called you by name. You are mine.

I used to have such a hard time with the phrase, “Beauty is on the inside.” I felt like everyone I heard say it was unattractive and used it to self-soothe. (Mean and judgmental, I know.) Interesting how perspective changes when inner beauty is realized in others and strived for in oneself. It is much more difficult to acquire, maintain and increase than outward beauty. It is the great reminder that this “shell” is temporary. Appearance is fleeting. What’s on the inside will indeed show through…eventually.

I have found it fascinating how the inside begins seeping through the eyes and the smile. The mannerisms and responses. The posture and tone. I know several women over the age of 55 who have a rare beauty that a 20-year-old doesn’t even know to wish for and certainly could not understand. My perception of beauty now differs greatly from when I was 20 or even 26. I don’t think it can adequately be defined. It’s like trying to wrap ones mind around “forever.” It simply cannot be done.

Truth be told, twelve years of abuse to one’s body doesn’t just go away. I know that eating disorders in general are a phenomenon to many. For those of us walking through it, it could not be more real. Some days I wonder if I will ever have a healthy relationship with food. I wonder when I will stop wanting to bend over and vomit every time something passes my lips. I wonder when I will stop trying to force my curves into straight leg jeans. I don’t know?

What I do know is that when I stand up in front of your daughters and mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives and friends and tell them that God made them with a purpose in mind and we should embrace the body he has created for us, I better be living what I’m speaking.

Some days I do. There are days when I have too much confidence. Those who know me well would attest to that. On the days when I’m not appreciating my laugh lines, the curve of my hips or the scar on my belly (that provided a safe delivery for our son) I remember the verse that I have given out to so many women and girls. “I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!” Psalm 139:14

I am not the crease in my brow or the lines encompassing my eyes. I am not the stomach lacking definition or the thighs that will never fit into a size 4 again. I am not the arms that hide from sleeveless shirts or the boobs chest that is, at times, less than manageable. I am not the chin that is no longer well-defined or the insipid, brown hair on my head. The fact that more things jiggle when I walk than I would like, does not decrease my value or deflect me from my purpose. All of these things make up my physique, but they no longer define me.

I am a child of God. Made in his image. Created with great purpose and craftsmanship. I am his masterpiece. Dearly beloved. Beautiful in his sight. Purchased with his blood. Worth dying for.

And darling, so are you.


Do those come in elastic waist?

Here she is, the legend, the one that daisy dukes were named for. Daisy herself. How did she get those on I wonder?

I don’t often reminisce about my short shorts days, but today I allowed myself a stroll down memory lane when a beautiful blond with no more than 6 inches of denim covering her booty walked past our table at lunch.

My first thought was, “I wonder how it feels to, not only be able to fit in a pair of shorts found in the toddler section, but still have range of motion while doing so?”

Was I jealous? I think maybe I was…a little…for a second. Don’t get me wrong, I stand by my mantra, “Love the body you’re in.” I love my body. It serves me well. I just wish sometimes that there wasn’t so much of it.

This got me thinking, “Do other women feel this way when a cute little booty adorned in stretched denim passes by?” Are there women who don’t even notice? How is that possible?

Okay, if we are being painfully honest here I will say that the next thought through my mind was, “Why did that skinny little be-otch have to walk passed me on a day like today when I reluctantly stuffed myself into shorts that I haven’t worn in… oh… 3 years, just to show me what I don’t look like? The one time I put my pride aside and my less than tan legs on display I’m sharing a room with the inspiration for the song, “I’m sexy and I know it.” I wanted to cover myself with the vinyl tablecloth. Pathetic, I know.

I wish I could tell you that the next thing that came to mind was Psalm 139 and thoughts of how beautiful I am to my Creator and to my man who treats me like a goddess. It wasn’t. The next thing to surface was justification. “Well, Marilyn Monroe was a size 16 and she was smokin’.” “I rock my curves!” “I’ve had 3 children. T h r e e!” “Thin isn’t the biggest deal and neither is a tan! I want to be healthy and white! After all, vampires are the latest craze and they are paler than I am.” “Yeah. That’s right. I’m hot.”

Now enjoy the part where my rationalization comes crumbling down around me.
~ By today’s sizes it is believed that Marilyn would have been a 6/8. (There goes that theory)
~ I have grown accustomed to and even fond of my curves. However, a muffin top or shelf butt are not technically the curves that one likes to “rock.”
~ True, I have had 3 kiddos and with each one worked out less afterwards. It’s difficult to maintain the excuse that it’s baby weight when my baby is 4!
~ Thin is just as big a deal as it has been for as long as I can remember. Everything looks better tan, especially fat and while being healthy is important, thin is more times than not, healthier than pudge.
~ Just for the record, most days I do feel hot. I mean, it’s been over 100 degrees here for the last month!

Seriously, I’m not lacking in self-esteem and for someone who struggled for so many years with self-loathing behavior, I’d say that’s a pretty huge statement. I just wish that I could tell you that having a healthy marriage, beautiful children, everything I have ever dreamed of in this life, would keep me from looking at “little miss tight buns” and being envious. But alas, I can not. I would be lying.

It’s interesting what topics have come up in the last week for me. Words like “enough.” When it comes to size, attitude and fiestiness, I’m more than enough. When it comes to viewing myself as the Beloved through the eyes of my Master, I could use some work.

So today, right now, here in this moment, Daisy can keep her dukes and Marilyn her 24″ waist. I’m good. Now, what’s for dinner?!

To download a PDF version of the Psalm click on one of the links below
Psalm 139
Psalm 139 text version

* Media was taken from google