3 pounds

body image

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, epSos.de

3 pounds.

That’s all it took to send my thoughts into a tailspin. Two seconds with my feet planted on a scale was all it took for my entire day to feel ruined.

You know the thoughts that started. I considered the wine, the candy, the burritos I’d had over the past week. I remembered the day when I met a friend for ice cream instead of exercising and the mornings I just couldn’t rouse myself out of bed for a run. I grabbed the back of my thighs—you know, the place we’ve all grown up learning to squeeze and hate—and vowed to live and eat differently. Spinach, no carbs, lots of water, and for heavens sake lay off the dessert.

My thoughts spiraled in that crazy place. You know the one. The place where you know you are crazy, that you are not the fattest, grossest person to ever grace the planet, but you can’t stop the thoughts. Suddenly, everything looks big and swollen and you notice the double chin that really isn’t there, but you’re just sure it is.

This crazy zone is the same place we go when we have absolutely nothing to wear. If you are married or you at one time lived at home with your dad, they give you that look that says: “Hey sister. Calm Down. I’m starring at a closet full of clothes and there’s at least 10 outfits on the floor right now. Why don’t you just breath.” But you can’t breath or calm down because you have somewhere important to be with absolutely nothing in that dreadful closet that remotely will fit the occasion. And it all just feels crippling.

Loving our bodies can be one of the hardest parts of womanhood. We’re taught to hate and to hide what God has given us. I think it’s good and maybe even freeing to admit out loud that we often feel like a number on a scale, even if we know that number doesn’t define us. It’s healthy to admit we struggle with comparing our bodies to our friends and hoping one day we’ll win what feels like an endless battle.

I love a story Anne Lamott tells. Her friend lay dying in a hospital bed, body filled with cancer, and Anne was visiting her before a book signing that evening. In what became a pivotal moment, she asked her friend:

“Does this dress make my hips look big?”

Her dying friend looked at her and said,

“Annie, you don’t have that kind of time.”

Big hips? You don’t have time to worry about big hips.

Beautiful, especially considering the recent events in Boston that made us all consider the terrible brevity of life.

I struggle and I know you struggle too. Your body is not a problem and you are not a number on a scale. The truth is I’ve grown significantly in this area and learned to love my body over the years and maybe you have too. But in some ways, it will always be a fight not to succumb to hatred of our bodies in stride with culture. And that’s ok. Our job as redeemed women is to keep fighting to focus on what really matters, instead of allowing hateful thoughts to steal the joy of living, loving, creating, and embracing—all the beautiful parts of life.

The world needs women–strong, brave, and beautiful women willing to love the forgotten, the outcast. Women willing to bare the burdens of our sisters and let them know it’s going to be ok.

I don’t have time to let 3 pounds or big hips or a week of dessert to occupy space in my mind. And I hope you don’t either.

Do you struggle with body image? What helpful ways have you found to love your body and not let worry steal your joy? 

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Comments
11 Responses to “3 pounds”
  1. Catherine says:

    Ugh, this topic is so frustrating. Mostly because I can’t believe that I’m still dealing with it after all these years! But I’ve definitely made great strides. One of the biggest things has been changing how I view my body not as “an Other”, but as Me. This might sound bad – Wait! I am NOT the number! – but for me, realizing that my mind is not constantly fighting my body, and vice versa, has allowed me to more fully embrace all the uniqueness of both sides of me. When I workout, I do it because it’s fun and makes me feel healthy. Even though I may not look exactly the way I want to look, I know that I am making wise choices and using this gift of God’s as well as I can. I hate on my body less when I know that I am working to be healthy and a more complete picture of a heart-healthy creation.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      I know how hard it can be. I love the shift in perspective from seeing your body as other to ‘me’ or ‘mine’. It’s a constant fight isn’t it? I think that because so much emphasis is placed on women’s bodies, this fight won’t be done until we’re face to face with Jesus. Thanks for sharing, Catherine!

  2. Greg says:

    Even though it came from a man who was responsible for ending prayer in public schools (Earl Warren, Chief Justice), what he said was nevertheless true, and it dovetails with what this post is primarily about:

    “I’m very pleased with each advancing year. It stems back to when I was forty. I was a bit upset about reaching that milestone, but an older friend consoled me: ‘Don’t complain about growing old—many, many people do not have that privilege.'”

  3. Tricia says:

    THANK YOU for this post. I resonate so much with everything you said. And what a reminder that I don’t have time to worry about the five or so pounds I’ve put on since my April 2012 wedding! Jesus, remind me of that daily.

  4. Megan says:

    Thank you for this post! It was just what I needed to hear this morning, after kicking myself in the back for not running more this week. I struggled with loving my body ever since 7th grade, when I was put in a back brace for scoliosis for 2.5 years. Ever since then I couldn’t make clothes fit right, and hated the fact one shoulder and hip was higher, ect.

    This year though, I joined a dance team at my college and for the first time in my life, I started to own my body. We are a cultural dance group, and as the weeks went on, I realized that when dancing….I felt sexy. I felt beautiful and powerful and STRONG. Through dance, I’ve learned to embrace and love my body. And I learned that as a Christian, it’s okay to love your body– it is not shameful, as some churches would have us believe. God made me like this, curves in my spine and all :)

    Wonderful post!

  5. Karen says:

    When I feel down about my body, I congratulate it for all the amazing things it can do, its produced 4 healthy children, it’s whole and able, I am very lucky, i too don’t have time to bitch and moan about cellulite or wrinkles. I am loved by my Father just as I am and He’s the only One I’m interested in. The other thing I do at those times is reach out and care for someone else, really lifts the spirit.

  6. Jennifer says:

    I wish I had only 3 (or 5) pounds to worry about…I guess this is why you’re married and I never will be.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      NOT TRUE! That makes me sad that you would think that about yourself. Chapter 5 of Real Men Don’t Text talks about beauty and how to embrace and feel confident in our beauty. I hope you get a chance to read it.

      • Jennifer says:

        While the first three chapters were well-written, your target audience seems to be college students and twentysomethings who are pursued by men. Since I am not in the target audience, I will probably not read any more of it..

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