Welcome to Part 3 of our series “Let’s Change Our Body Image”. In Part 1, we looked at reasons why we as women might have a negative body image. In Part 2, we looked at the consequences of a negative self-image.
In this post, we’re finally going to shift our perspective to the positive side! I’d like to share with you some ways I’m learning how to have a positive body image. My hope is that we can all grow and be able to overcome in this area together!
I’m not a counselor, medical expert, nutritionist, or psychiatrist. What I share with you will not come from any clinical experience of helping others with a negative body image. But it does come from my own experience in overcoming a lifetime of crippling low self-esteem. (You can read about what I learned here.)
Having a positive body image is life-giving. I believe we can learn to be comfortable in our own skin! Feeling free to be our authentic selves relieves us of the worry and fear of others’ opinions. It “clears the channels” for our thoughts and emotions to be healthy, and it opens us up to be more engaged with the world around us.
As Hope Dwellers, we can be overcomers! We can choose to do what it takes to push past anything that holds us back from being all God created us to be.
So how do we do it? Let’s begin by looking at 5 ways I’m learning how to have a positive body image.
Embrace the Desire to Be Beautiful
I’ve always longed to be beautiful. I bet you have, too.
When I was a little girl twirling in front of my dad with a new dress, I wanted to hear affirming words of my beauty. As a teen, I daydreamed about a handsome hunk sweeping me off my feet with the words – “You are so beautiful. I love you.”
I’m in my mid-fifties, and I still long to be beautiful.
The book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge ( see below) helped me to understand about this desire to be beautiful. Here’s what they say:
God has set eternity in our hearts. The longing to be beautiful is set there as well.”
Beauty is the essence of a woman. We want to be perfectly clear that we mean both a physical beauty and a soulful/spiritual beauty. The one depends upon and flows out of the other. Yes, the world cheapens and prostitutes beauty, making it all about a perfect figure few woman can attain. But Christians minimize it, too, or overspiritualize it, making it all about “character”. We must recover the prize of Beauty.”
Why does beauty matter to us? The Eldredges go on to explain of ways that beautiful things reach us and touch us on deep levels. The beauty of a sunset or a peaceful garden, the beauty of flowers being given to a grieving friend, the beauty of a magnificent cathedral or a piece of art – beauty speaks to us and invites us to a place of rest and comfort and peace. And “it speaks of Heaven to come, when all shall be beautiful.”
Ultimately, we are made in God’s image, and He is beautiful and captivating. So our desire to be beautiful is a desire to be like Him and a desire to be how He has created us to be.
We don’t need to feel guilty for wanting to be beautiful. There’s no benefit to us in condemning ourselves for this desire. But it’s also not good to obsess in our attempts to fulfill this longing.
Let’s first be courageous to embrace this desire to be beautiful as a healthy longing. I think we can then learn to address it in life-giving ways.
Recognize That Real Beauty Does Start From Within
In Psalm 27:4, we read of how the psalmist wanted to spend time in the temple so he could gaze at the beauty of God. We read about the beauty of His holiness. Yet Isaiah 53:2 tells us that Jesus had no appearance that people would find attractive or desirable.
Isn’t that interesting? Jesus would never have made it on the cover of a magazine. Yet He had a massive following while on earth. Why?
I believe people were attracted to His presence, His confidence, and His message. They were captivated by His ability to be at peace at all times. He knew His purpose and knew who He was. He showed compassion and was willing to listen and help anyone who came to Him.
His beauty came from within Him. Our beauty lies within us, too.
Our personality, our interests, our passions – all those things that make us unique and who we really are – this is where our beauty lies. People who really love us don’t love us for our appearance. They love us – the whole package.
And from a practical standpoint, when we can have peace within, trusting God and believing His word, what a difference it makes in how we look! Being able to rest in our souls will translate outwardly in our bodies.
When we can let go of shame and guilt to give ourselves grace, and when we can forgive those who’ve hurt us in the past, we’ll have a freedom that radiates to others in an appealing way.
Knowing that we are loved and accepted by our good Father frees us to accept ourselves, and we can then begin to feel more comfortable in our own skin. And our outward appearance will reflect it.
Cultivate Your Beauty
It’s tempting to skip this step in learning how to have a positive body image. Some would say I just need to focus solely on the character within. But since we’ve been given a longing to be beautiful, I believe it’s good to do what we can to enhance our physical beauty.
I totally understand those of you who are muttering under your breath about now that “you just don’t know what I look like!”
Over the years, my challenge has been that if I define beauty by the standards of the media or entertainment industry or if I define it by what makes a man turn his head, I will never see myself as beautiful.
Even when my husband tells me so frequently.
Again, this is the true challenge for us in this subject – we can’t base our body image on how others define it for us!
But let’s just be honest – we all do feel better about ourselves when we look good. When we are in a place where we are taking care of our bodies, it’s just easier not to obsess on how we look, isn’t it?
While we don’t want to obsess over our outward appearance, we can be courageous to do practical things to make our body the best it can be. I believe these practical things, (and they may be different for all of us), can go a long ways to help us overcome those tendencies toward the negative.
♥♥Be sure to stay to the end of the post. I have a printable of practical tips to help you in this area!♥♥
For some of us, we might need to step up to the challenge of losing excess weight that has plagued us. We might need to save pennies to go to a salon to get a new hairstyle or a new color. Or we might want to be brave and let the color go if it leaves us feeling unauthentic.
Drinking more water and eating plenty of plant foods can help our skin. Exercise tones us and helps us move our lymph to get toxins out. A healthy way of eating just makes us feel better in every area. (One way of determining a healthy way of eating can be found here.)
There are many books and websites that give us simple ways to make our own products that can enhance our beauty. (You can see some books below.) You could even have a “spa night” with a daughter, a granddaughter, or a friend and pamper yourselves with homemade beauty products. It’s good for the body and good for the soul.
I believe doing these practical things to accentuate the beauty we’ve been given can actually boost our confidence and improve our body image. Especially if our heart motivation is to be the best “us” we can be, rather than doing them to earn our worth or acceptance.
Refuse to Listen and Engage in Negative Talk About the Body
While we have this longing to be beautiful and may be trying to cultivate our beauty, it’s still far too easy to look in the mirror with a negative perspective, isn’t it? The thoughts we have or the words we use to describe ourselves are often anything but positive. It’s such a temptation to focus on the negative and bring our thoughts and emotions right along for the ride.
Christa Black, in her book God Loves Ugly and love makes beautiful, gives us such good advice here:
Here’s a personal test that I use toward every belief system in my life. If your “truths” are leading to death in any way..then more than likely, they’re not the truth. By death, I mean they produce things like insecurity, depression, self-hatred, fear, worry, or any other negative result. “
Let’s choose life in what we think about ourselves, not death! Let’s choose to fight these negative thoughts and lies instead of giving in to them. Who needs insecurity and depression and all that negativity? We can choose to live in the positive, just like our Father does! (If you struggle with your thinking, you can find help here.)
And can we also choose to be careful with the words we speak aloud? Both about ourselves and about other women?
I confess I’ve been in too many conversations over the years where we talk about the weight a female friend has gained or how bad she looks after some difficulty in her life. For me, the only reason I would join in a conversation like that is to make myself feel better about the way I look. It’s really shameful.
Look at this verse in the Passion Translation Bible:
When you speak healing words, you offer others fruit from the tree of life. But unhealthy, negative words do nothing but crush their hopes.” Proverbs 15:4 TPT
Our words need to be life-giving – always. Negative words only serve to crush our hope and diminish our strength. Let’s be brave to speak only kind and positive words about others. Let’s be brave to give healing words to others.
And let’s be brave to speak only life-giving, healing words to ourselves!
Choose to See Yourself as God Sees You
This last point wraps up the heart of my message here at Hope Dwellers. I firmly believe that if you could just see yourself the way God sees you, you would be amazed at the difference this freedom would bring you!
The longing we have to be beautiful, when matched with the world’s standards of beauty, might lead us to fear and despair that we’ll never attain beauty. We might then feel we’ll never achieve our even deeper longing: to be loved, seen, accepted, and valued for who we are.
Dear one, this is why it’s so important to not let man (or woman!) define you, your beauty, or your worth!!!
Let me quote Stasi Eldredge again, this time from her book: becoming myself:
I have learned that being beautiful, feeling lovely, and enjoying who we uniquely are have absolutely nothing to do with our weight, our age, or the shape of our bodies…Being beautiful is a quality of spirit recognized primarily in a woman whose soul is at rest because she believes her God when He calls her lovely.”
Song of Solomon 2:10-16 has been a deeply meaningful passage to me over the last few years, especially these words:
Arise my love, my beautiful one, and come away. O my dove…let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” SOS 2:13b-14 ESV
It made such a difference to me when I gave myself permission to believe that God is speaking these words to me. Because of Jesus, because of His incredible love and His scandalous grace, He knows everything about me and still loves me and delights in me and sings over me.
And of all things, He says my face is lovely to Him. He longs for me to be with Him and talk with Him and connect on the deepest level possible.
My friend, this is true for you, too!
No person on this earth will ever fulfill all our longings. We can free them and free ourselves from that expectation. God, the very Maker of Heaven and earth, whose opinion is far greater than any other, validates us, affirms us, accepts us, and cherishes us.
To quote Stasi again:
The only things standing in the way of our beauty are our doubts and fears, and the hiding and striving we fall to as a result.”
You are His Beloved! Throw away the doubts and fears and the striving to earn your way. Choose to believe His love and revel in it!
Knowing you are truly loved and accepted for who you are is the key to learning how to have a positive body image!
Let’s keep progressing in this journey to believe God is who He says He is and to believe we are who He says we are. We CAN overcome a negative body image!
Choosing to see myself more positively with you,
In the comments below, please share with us one thing you’ll do or one thing you’ll believe to have a more positive body image. We want to encourage each other. Thanks!
Here’s the free printable I mentioned earlier to help you begin cultivating your beauty from the inside out.. You don’t want to miss this!
Here’s the link to the first two parts of my series, “Let’s Change Our Body Image!”:
(Be sure to print out the freebie that goes with Post 2 – a great reminder to believe God’s opinion of you! You might even want to print it out where you can see it often.)
Once again I highly recommend these first 3 books below. They have been so helpful to me. Also, if you want to have fun making your own beauty products, the last 3 books will help you do so in a natural way.
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Scripture quotations marked TPT are from The Passion Translation® Copyright ©2017 by BroadStreet Publishing ® Group, LLC. Used by permission. All rights reserved. thePassionTranslation.com
Scripture quotations marked ESV are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.