Editor’s note: The prior 2 articles in this series have addressed the problem of negative body-image, and in a way have only focused on that, the negative. Here, we’ll finally discuss the liberating truth and the only response we could have from knowing it.
Finding a solution for negative body image is complicated, but it starts with God’s attitude toward all of His creation. As God’s people, we need to sit and hear Him say about us, “It is good”.
In the very first chapter of scripture, the very first page of the Bible, we are given the profound truth on how to view the world. Genesis tells us that God made the world. He made the grass and its seed, the animals and the rivers, insects and atoms, the mountains and the sky. And He made man and woman, and gave to them their bodies. That immediately shifts the human body from the category of “commodity to control” into “gift to cherish.” And yet the body’s value isn’t complete until we read further. After God completes His work of creation, He says something that shapes the way we view ourselves and all of creation:
“And God saw everything that He had made and behold it was very good.”
Beauty is often subjective. What one culture deems as beautiful may not be beautiful to another, including what your face and body looks like. But with God, your worth, beauty, body, hair, arms, and waistline from 6 years old to 60 are not beautiful because of the era or culture you live in.
Your body isn’t good because your friends are telling you that, and you should just believe it. The goodness of the human body doesn’t depend on human opinions.
Your body is good, objectively, because God says so. Our bodies are made by God. And God declared what He made “very good.” That’s not sentimental. That is powerful.
That is why the Christian view is the most liberating. Because it sincerely doesn’t matter what someone looks like. The fact that you were given a body means you were granted a gift. A gift to love, to be thankful for, to cherish.
This blocks out any desire to reform the body to be good in another’s eyes. I don’t need to do that, or feel less than someone else, or compare myself with another.
My body is not to be wept over or cinched or injected for the sake of making it better. God’s authorship and ownership of me is enough. God has the final say over the craftsmanship of my body. And He has declared it, “good.”
When we realize this, the chains that once bound our minds, hearts and bodies are released. We are free to enjoy our bodies! We have reason to cherish our bodies as good gifts. And yet, it doesn’t stop there. Because Christianity doesn’t just show us how to enjoy the gift, but also how to enjoy the Giver.
Our call, then, is very simple. God asks us to respond with praise.
Psalm 139:17 says “I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Most times, when Christian girls struggle with body image, this is the verse they are told to memorize. And it’s a good one. After all, we just saw from scripture that what we need isn’t positive body-talk with no foundation as to why we’re saying what we’re saying.
We need the truth for why we can say with confidence that the bodies we have are good, and that comes from knowing that we’re created by God. Psalm 139:17 says that exactly, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. But too often, most of us latch onto that second clause and forget the first one. If we stay there, reiterating to ourselves, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made!”, we may have some ground to stand on, but it’ll be too easy to veer right or left and fall off the path of joy.
Remember, sin bends us inward towards ourselves. We need direction on where to go and where to focus our eyes. “If our eyes aren’t supposed to scrutinize ourselves in the mirror, maybe they’re to adore ourselves in the mirror?” some might assume. But that view falls short. If we focus on ourselves, we’ll be left with ourselves. God is trying to bring us beyond ourselves.
When we know that God has purposefully and graciously made us, we are left with only one response. To worship! And that’s what that infamous verse is getting at. It starts with these words: “I will praise You…” That is the main point. We can’t help but worship God, when we realize that He Himself has made us. When my heart is full of praise for Him, there’s no more room left for me. There is no room to obsess over my body. I realize God is the beautiful One, not me. God is of great desire, not my dream body. And when I find in myself dissatisfaction towards my body, I can realize that it’s not only a dissatisfaction with God’s gift, it’s also a dissatisfaction with the Giver, God Himself!
But to be struck by the goodness of God eradicates any ill view I have of myself and of Him. My eyes drop from the mirror and look to heaven. My mouth ceases complaining and instead offers praise.
When we want to scrutinize or despair over our gangly limbs, thin lips, big noses, or thick thighs, remember there is a greater vision than our features and what society or yourself say about them.
Hear what God says about your body: “It is good.”
And then join the psalmist and all the saints, declaring to our holy, good, and loving God: “I will praise You.”