I recently caught myself looking at the floor when I got out of the shower as I blindly reached for my robe. I don’t know when I started looking down, but today was the first time it really hit me why I wasn’t looking up.
Looking up means looking into a full-length mirror of my naked body, and I just can’t do it.
I can’t look at the rolls of fat that have replaced my stomach, the stretch marks that have replaced smooth skin, varicose veins that look like a road map on my legs, and a chest that now sags after breastfeeding.
I was always a little overweight most of my adult life, but nothing compared to what I am now. I thought turning 40 was going to be amazing, but two years later and 30 pounds heavier I am wondering—who in the hell is the person looking back at me in the mirror? Getting old feels like a cruel joke, and I just want to scream at God; this is so freaking unfair.
Didn’t my body go through enough with four pregnancies (one miscarriage, one vaginal birth, one emergency c-section, and one vaginal birth after c-section) only to rewarded with an obese body and a metabolism that depleted about four years ago?
I know I’m supposed to love my body, especially since it’s the aftermath of three full-term pregnancies. It’s beautiful battle wounds, right? But I can’t. I can’t get beyond the fact that no matter what I do, this is my body. And before you try to solve my problem with diet and exercise, been there done that, and still doing it. Guess what—I still look the same.
I guess that’s my predicament. How do I love my body when I’m too ashamed to look in the mirror?
I wish there was an easy fix to change my thoughts, to take away the frustration, anger, embarrassment, and shame I feel. I want to look in the mirror and say, “damn girl, you look good,” but right now, it’s just not going to happen.
The funny thing is I am showered with compliments from my husband every day. Every day he tells me how beautiful I am, how he loves my body, but every time we have sex, I cringe when he touches me because I’m so embarrassed he is touching my fat.
It’s all me. I know this, because as I said, he loves me and the way I look. But I also know that if somehow I don’t get out of my head, this is going to affect my marriage more than it already has. I know the more I hate my body, the less likely I will want to be intimate with my husband and that will be damaging.
I have to move forward and stop focusing on the negative. Easier said than done, right? Well, I can continue good habits like exercise and healthy eating, but I also have to stop body shaming myself, and that is going to be the hardest habit to break.
I’m going to have to start looking up in the mirror instead of looking down. I’m going to have to start liking myself instead of hating it. I’m going to have to start remembering the positives about my body instead of the negatives, even if it’s just as simple as saying I like my ears. Saying that out loud makes me laugh, but it’s a start.
I also have to bring God into my conversation—not as a prayer to lose weight but to remind me of who I am.
Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God created me to be a mom. He created me to be a wife. He created my body. The truth is we are God’s masterpiece, his greatest piece of work. Who I am inside and outside is part of God’s masterpiece, and even though I struggle with fully believing it, it doesn’t mean it’s not the truth. I can’t stress this enough—I need to start believing the truth of who I am in God’s eyes and not the lies I continue to tell myself. The Bible is clear—there is an enemy of God who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy us. He’s really good at it.
Ultimately, the battle is whether I agree with God about my worth. Whether I’m defined by Him or if I let culture define me by how I look. Any time I feel shame, I have let the enemy into my mind.
I have agreed with the enemy of God (who literally wants to kill me) that I’m not what I should be. I’ve agreed with a recent American culture-created belief that beauty is being slim and young and wrinkle-free. GOD NEVER SAID THAT. That’s not even something other cultures or time periods have agreed upon. But it’s in front of us in enough commercials, and suddenly, it’s the measuring stick for my self-confidence? It’s a factor in whether I can enjoy sex with my husband? HELL, no. Not any more.
I’m waking up to the way that lie has stolen from me. I’m turning the other way and running as fast as I can. The only source that gets to define beauty for me is God—the Maker of beauty Himself. I’m recommitting myself to His distinctions between beauty, health, and intimacy. I’m surrendering it all to God for a fresh start.
Beauty is being who God made me to be with confidence. Beauty is radical kindness, refreshing authenticity, a smile that lights up rooms, big laughter, and a personality that warms and unites and woos. That’s what beauty looks like for me. You have a unique beauty of your own too. It has nothing to do with your waist size or complexion.
Health is choosing to honor the body God gave me. It remembers how valuable these muscles and bones really are. It’s remembering the incredible life they’ve enabled and believing the decades ahead can be vibrant if I value them. It’s choosing to move when I’d rather be still, choosing to drink water when I’d rather have pop. It’s eating healthy not as punishment for not looking a certain way, but as a joyful investment in the health of this incredible body that holds my valuable life together.
Intimacy is being fully known and loved by God and my husband in spite of my imperfections. It’s choosing to believe them when they say I’m loved, beautiful, and wanted. I have to believe them more than pop culture. More than that image of the perfect body I’ve made an idol in my mind. More than my fears or insecurities. It’s letting go of all of those and believing my husband’s words.
Because if I don’t, I’m wasting chances for connection for…what? To wallow in insecurity? To feel bad about myself for reasons literally made up by culture? Our sex life should not be limited by how I measure up to an airbrushed supermodel image that isn’t even real. Our sex life should be limited by nothing but our willingness to be all in the covenant of our marriage. It’s up to us. We can let lies into our bedroom, or we can embrace the rare gift of getting to be loved by someone who sees your flaws and still wants you.
And also, I’m pretty sure men really don’t need their wife to have a “perfect” body to enjoy sex. Why is that so hard to remember?
I know this is a lot easier said than done, but here are some things I have started doing this year to help me not change my appearance but change my thoughts about myself.
I started swimming again. I haven’t swum actual laps in over 20 years because I was too embarrassed people would judge me, but a friend convinced me to start swimming with her, and I freaking love it. I am doing something I never thought I would do again in my life, and I’m crushing it. I know God was telling me it doesn’t matter your weight, you are a swimmer.
I also started really looking into what clothing looks best on my body type. I am no longer 30 and 150 pounds, so dressing like it doesn’t help, but dressing in baggy clothes like I have been doing doesn’t help either. What I have found is clothing for my body type is not oversized and ugly like I thought but can be gorgeous and make me look good. I know God was telling me to stop complaining and try something new.
There is a very good possibility I might never lose the weight I have gained since turning 40, but I can either embrace the person God made to be now or I can continue to complain about what I used to be. I don’t want to look into the past anymore, this is who I am now, and I am grateful for it.
There is not one standard of beauty. It comes in all shapes and sizes. No matter what you might think of yourself I am here to tell you, you are beautiful. How do I know? I know because God created you to be a masterpiece, and all of His masterpieces are beautiful.