I don’t know if you know this or not, but Pinterest is a dark, scary place.
I hadn’t spent much time there, but as preparation for a women’s retreat I’m speaking at later this month I wanted to do a little research on the negative messages women are fed, sometimes by ourselves and other women around us. So I dove into pinterest to see what kinds of lessons I could learn in the “Health and Fitness” section. What I found was kind of horrifying. For starters, as one of my sisters put it, “so many butts.” Pictures of butts everywhere. Goodness. I don’t even own a full length mirror, so I couldn’t tell you what mine looks like. But according to pinterest I should probably get to toning. What Pinterest doesn’t know is that it’s about a zillion degrees below zero here, so nobody can even tell if my butt is toned or not, for I am covered in many, many layers.
Anyway, I digress.
What terrifies me the absolute most are the “motivational” quotes.
The internet is positively diseased with these things. And as good ol’ Abe Lincoln once said, it’s hard to tell if they’re legit or not.
Take any phrase, put it in front of a beach at sunset or a snow-covered mountain, and suddenly it is advice worthy of your trust.
Or in the case of Pinterest, it’s quotes in front of butts and bellies. Goodness, how many times can I write butt in one blog post?
Here are some examples:
“No muffin top-what I look forward too.” Did you know you can actually eliminate a muffin top by purchasing a pair of pants that fit properly? True story.
“So you don’t have to be ashamed to undress in front of someone.” I feel like this is a terrible reason to do ANYTHING, including workout. Just imagine…
Reporter: Wow, Jenifer, you’ve just finished first place in the super marathon championships! How do you feel!
Me: Well, after months and years of training, it was all worth it, because now I can finally go around undressing in front of people with no fear of shame…only arrest.
Seriously. There are way better motivations to get moving, like my friend who runs to raise money for a cure for her daughter! Support her by clicking here!
“Tame your thighs” Goodness, I apologize for having wild, rebellious thighs. I shall get right on the taming of them. Except, gotcha! My brain is rebellious too and probably won’t follow through with it.
“Make their jaws drop. Prove their words wrong.” Meh, that implies that I care what “they” think.
There are also charts about which fruit I most resemble. To which I say, I am created in the image of God, not a piece of fruit.
But the most horrifying “motivational” quote I’ve seen so far, and I’ve seen it several times, is one that reads, “It’s easier to wake up early and work out than it is to look in the mirror each day and not like what you see.”
I don’t quite even know where to begin with this one. I will say, first of all, that I am completely in favor of a healthy lifestyle. The Bible says our bodies are temples, and I think it’s great to honor God by taking care of these bodies He gave us. Exercise and healthy eating are good for us and make us feel good too!
I know what it’s like to look in the mirror and not like what I see. And trust me, no amount of exercise helped me change my opinion of myself. No matter how much weight I lost, there was always more to lose, always something to improve, always some way in which I did not measure up the impossible standard set in the media and in my own imagination. Even when I was at my smallest I looked in the mirror and saw ugly and fat. And no amount of getting up early and hitting the gym was changing that.
In July of 2012 I had the incredible opportunity to go on a mission trip around the world. I spent eleven months overseas, most of that time without a full-length mirror. Some months I didn’t even have a mirror any larger than the one on my makeup bag. How absolutely liberating to have no idea what my tummy looked like on any given day! How freeing to have no opportunity to stand sideways in the mirror and measure myself with my eyes! What a gift to spend time around a community of people who assured me that I was not, in fact, fat, and that my belief that I was ugly was a complete and total lie. What a blessing to have that time where I could focus on spending more time with the Lord, listening to what HE had to say about me.
The result: when I got back home from the World Race, for the first time since I could remember, I was actually happy with the way I looked. I was content with my body. I didn’t feel the need to stand sideways in the mirror and inspect my size.
The Lord crafted my body and kept it healthy and working for eleven months around the world! Why would I want a different one?
It’s just…it’s just very freeing to not hate myself for a change, you know? To not look in the mirror and frown or stand in the corner and worry that people are judging my body.
And it’s safe to say that absolutely none of this new perspective, none of this heart change came from diet and exercise. None of it came from losing any amount of weight, or doing any amount of butt toning.
It came about because for the first time since I can remember, I began to actually believe God’s truth about me. The Lord spent that year relentlessly pursuing me with His truth. And the truth is that I AM beautiful. Not “beautiful if I lose 15 pounds,” not “beautiful if I tone my tummy,” not “beautiful if I can just get myself to the gym and eat a few more salads.” No. I am beautiful. NOW.
Biblical beauty, as you may know, focuses a lot on the beauty of our insides. That’s where our focus should be, and trust me, no amount of squats is going to help with that. But I believe God also wants us to see ourselves as beautiful on the outside as well. I guess I just have a hard time imagining Him looking down from Heaven and being like, “Ufda, it’s a good thing I gave that girl a good personality, because she sure ain’t much to look at…”
The Bible does say that the Lord knit me together in my mother’s womb, and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139). It says that humans are made in God’s image, and what He made was good (Genesis 1). Therefore, criticizing myself is actually criticizing what God-also known as the creator of the universe, the sculptor of the mountains, and the painter of sunsets-has made.
It breaks my heart to see the bondage American women are in when it comes to our self image. We are fed so many lies on a daily basis, friends. So many lies that they’ve started to feel like truth.
I don’t know how else to say this, to put this across in a way that causes you to understand the truth.
So I will just say, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, and let God do the rest.