Tuesday, September 1, 2015

"Hey, Fat Girl!"


“Body Positive.”

People throw that term around like it’s something easy to be. It’s not. As a substantially-framed woman, I can say it’s not easy and I can feel annoyed with skinny girls who talk about fat days. Except I can’t, because body-image problems plague all women. Why? Because it’s a head-game and "fat girls" aren’t the only ones who play head-games.


Our culture is on an upswing body- image-wise with more and more people widely accepting the fact that there is beauty to be found in every body-type. Though Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” doesn’t address the issue of the popular lie that we’re sexual creatures when we’re really so magnificently much more, I do appreciate the fact that she literally seconds with her lyrics what my own mother has always told me. “I got all the right junk in all the right places.” Also, the song’s just ridiculously catchy. But hearing on the radio that “every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top,” or that plus size model Erica Jean Schenk was given the award for Courage by Teen’s Choice Awards, or that a young woman has done an intriguing social study by undressing in public and letting people draw love-hearts on her arms, legs, stomach, back…these things don’t fix the fact that most – if not all – of us struggle with fully loving our physical forms. Though I’ve had problems with self-image, I’ve never struggled with self-loathing. Actually, an honest answer would be that I have never loathed myself so much that I wished I could die. It took me years to accept, not the fact that it was structurally impossible I will ever be a size two, but the fact that my body as is, is gorgeous. It’s so, so easy to half-believe I’m beautiful by thinking, “Yes, I would be gorgeous if I could just change this one thing, or that one thing.” Or to think I’ve really conquered body-image with this (true) statement: “My personality is incredibly beautiful.”

But no. I’m saying right now that my body, as is, is gorgeous. So is yours. Right now, no additions, omissions, or caveats. Okay. So my body’s not perfect and it could definitely use some upgrades and repairs, but it’s a fascinating piece of technology. But since when does “perfect” constitute “beautiful?” I’m pretty darn certain that a medical community wouldn’t look at some new form of cancer treatment machine and remark that it had got a few scratches on its stainless-steel surface in transit so, no thanks, keep the stuff.

Guys. My body is GORGEOUS.
In a field alongside the Transfagarasan near Brasov, Romania

It consumes and processes food, turns food into energy, and with that energy powers the most intricate of neural processes.  And I beat myself up because when I look at my reflection sideways in a mirror, I can see that my belly isn’t flat and my love-handles show. My body has these eyes that not only see images of the world around me, flip them, and send them to the brain, but also happen to come with these pieces of skin lined with silky lashes that lower over the delicate ocular devices to aid me in sleeping and to keep out any particles that shouldn’t get in.  And I complain that these eyes are too small, or have dark circles under them, or are hidden in my smile. I have legs that take me places – that have allowed me to stand on top of European mountains and play soccer with my little girls, to curl up in bed at night and walk the streets of exciting cities. I have arms that seriously aid me in pursuing my work as a nanny, lifting hefty, growing children on and off counters, folding laundry, braiding hair, teaching letters, scrubbing floors. And hands! Mine are actually connected to my brain and obey that massive technological mystery by transferring feathery imagination into tangible image for paintings, illustrations, doodles, or novel-writing. My fingers can type and tickle and pick berries and roll croissants. I can paint. I can crack my knuckles. And my body has all the normal female processes and prepares itself every single month to host a baby and then realizes we’re not ready for that just now and cleans house to start afresh next month, and does an okay job of keeping all these various hormones in line (all right, so mine could use some help here), and is amazingly WOMANLY, just doing its woman –thing which is pretty awesome.  And you know how I thank that body? By looking at my reflection in the mirror and critiquing my ample hips and the fact that I wasn’t born an hour-glass shape and that my lips aren’t fuller and that my butt doesn’t look like hers and that my arms are never toned and that I have the Heffington Nose. And let’s not even get started on my soul, which the prettiest, most mysterious, most precious part of me. The part that will go on to live forever. Forever, mind you. The real one. Not the “BFF” one.

on top of that mountain, which I climbed barefoot
I’m grateful today that I’m able to say with honesty, I’m beautiful. I think my body’s beautiful. Most days. And the days I’m not feeling the love? I look the Ugly-Lies straight on and tell them, in the words of a dear woman I recently met, “Go back to the PIT A’ HELL.” Because here’s another truth: we will always battle self-image because we have an enemy that runs a feed-lot of lies for women that we just run to voluntarily. But once we’ve embraced the truth about ourselves, we have the ability to shut the lies down and move on with the real knowledge that our bodies are truly beautiful.  I want to go further than addressing the lies and give you ways to apply this pep-talk to your real life. Because step away from the computer screen and you’ll have choices to make: are you going to hand yourself over to a falsehood or live in the truth? The truth is, you are beautiful.


Body-Love 101:

Take Care With Your Appearance: On a “fat day” I realize you don’t feel like any amount of makeup will cover the fact that you’re just as ugly as they come. But you know what? Put your big-girl pants on. Wear the high-heels or the leather boots or the glitzy sandals. Apply lipstick liberally. Wear more jewelry than is strictly necessary. Wear what makes you feel like the best version of yourself. This tip doesn’t only apply to days when you’re struggling to feel beautiful. This is my number one beauty rule. Adventure is always out there. Destiny is always right around the corner. Believe me: you don’t want to look shabby for destiny. Our attire should not be a cover-up, but an adornment. Personal style is you telling the world what you want the world to know before you’ve said even a word. Tell ‘em straight or they’ll try to tell you and you don’t want their opinion.
Take Care With Your Body: Get up and move around. Take a walk. Have a dance-party. Find some sort of exercise, whether it’s swimming, biking, jogging, walking, zumba, or dance and make time for it. I like to get my “workouts” in at the front of my day, and then they’re finished, I feel better, and it’s off my mind for the rest of the day. Eat well. Go to fresh fruits and vegetables before anything else. Make sure you’ve had protein. Drink enough water. When I’m truly taking the best care of my body, I cut out wheat and all processed sugars, not as a diet but as a gift to my body. Diets don’t work for long. A life-style  of healthy food and the occasional treat does. Feels amazing. Go to sleep at a reasonable hour and wake up at an accountable time each morning. Save sleeping-in for days off or weekends. And when you’re pursuing the best life for your body, it’ll find its healthy weight which, I might mention, will not be the same as every other woman’s healthy weight.
Take Care With Other People: Pay a compliment to a woman you’ve never met. Random compliments are one of the sweetest surprises and confidence-boosters I can think of. Smile at strangers, hold open the door for someone, buy a latte for a friend and deliver it to their desk at work as a surprise. Text a friend you haven’t spoken with in a while, write a thank-you note. Hang out with your family. Keep critical comments to a low and instead look for the praiseworthy in those around you. There is always more to be found than the weary soul realizes. Sending surprise packages and letters is my particular brand of getting outside myself – or one of them, rather. As a general rule, you can never go wrong by loving someone in a way in which you love to be ministered to. And above all, be sincere.
Take Care With Your Mind: Allow for time to read a new book or work on a drawing, to cook with a new recipe or learn a new song on your ukulele (I don’t know…). Allow for time to just be, and appreciate the fact that that amazing body of yours is doing its stuff in addition to going double-time to keep up with your life. Stress has a large impact on how we view ourselves and redirecting the mind from the day’s troubles to something beautiful or intellectually challenging is a great way to snap out of a funk.
Take Care With Your Heart: Do a check-up now and then and make sure you’re following Truth instead of Deception. Spend time in the scriptures and in prayer, feeding your soul. Ask God to show you His standard of beauty and for ways to bring out the beauty in others. Get out of harmful relationships and take personal responsibility for your wrongdoings and yours only. Let go of grudges and learn to forgive. You can’t let other people be your affirmation, so make sure you’re confident in your identity (P.S. True and full identity can only be found in Christ.) and from that confidence, help others find who they were created to be.
Take Care With Your Words: I can’t even remember where I first heard the term, “You aren’t fat. You have fat,” but it has become a favorite saying of mine. Be careful what names you call yourself, even mentally. Make sure the words you apply are true words, kind words. You should never call yourself what you would not call another woman. Would you walk up to a girl in line at TJ Maxx and say, “Hey, Fat Girl, what’s up? Why aren’t you smaller?” No? Then how dare you say it to yourself? Use words in relation to yourself and others that contain the nearest thing to the whole truth. Those are the words that really apply. Also, purposely take a look at yourself in the mirror when you are dressing in the morning. We’ve got to get over the mindset that says, “Let me hide from my reflection while I wriggle into these jeans.” So you’ve got cellulite, or maybe you’re super skinny and bony and your kneecaps stick out. As do many other people. So what? I had to get over the whole “I don’t want to see myself without clothes on” thing when I got a new dresser with a huge mirror and couldn’t avoid the sight. And guess what? I’m used to myself now, and I’m actually pretty gorgeous, in whatever state of attire I’m viewing.

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I’ve tried to be thoroughly honest in this post and I hope that someone finds it informative, helpful, or inspiring. I feel strongly that body image is something most women struggle with on some level at some point in life…and knowing that you’re not the only one and that there is truth to counter your lie…that’s worth a lot. It was worth a lot to me. Thank you so much for reading this far and sticking with me as I bash into your brains the complexity of who you are as an individual, unique creation with absolutely boundless potential. And you know what I hope more than all this? I hope that you are able to look at yourself in the next mirror you see and ask your reflection with a smile (maybe the first smile you’ve given her in a very long time):

“Hey. What’s up, Beautiful?”


23 comments:

  1. This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing! <3

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  2. Thank you so much for this gracious heart-talk!

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  3. Thank you so much for this gracious heart-talk!

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  4. Thank you so much for this gracious heart-talk!

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  5. Thanks for this honest-to-goodness, love-filled post. It's one of the best I've read on the subject, and believe me, like most girls, I have read a lot. I think this struggle is not foreign to most any girl. I have stared at my own reflection and have shed many a tear over my never clear, always covered with blemishes no matter what products or food I eat face. I think I'm too skinny and boyish, with no curves. I am annoyed with my Pound nose and my unruly hair. I forget that God those awesome abilities that God fashioned in my body...like you mentioned! The human body is fearfully and wonderfully made and so fascinating, and yet I throw mud and slander at my own. Thanks again for the encouragement. You're the real deal and such a sweet blessing to me! <3

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    1. I'm so glad this post was able to encourage you! You're definitely not alone in this....like I said, I think most if not all women (on some level) struggle with the concept of what beauty really is. Thank you for reading. <3

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  6. Cheers to you! Brilliant, uplifting post - and though I've never worked through as much of a body-image struggle as some (i.e. I have no interest in ending my life, thanks!) , I've definitely had days where I feel like I'll never be where I want to be. Dance doesn't help with that. But it's such a good reminder that we are beautiful as we are, even if we aren't as toned or slim or tall or small-chested as we want to be. And that's okay!

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    1. Yep. Too much of an optimist and adventurer for life-ending but GOODNESS some days it's hard to see the beauty behind in and behind the body.

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  7. I LOVE THIS! Rachel, thank you so much for writing this. :'D

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  8. Beautiful, really inspired me. I needed this I have been struggling a lot with body image so thanks.

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    1. Skye: well, welcome to a place where we acknowledge that such struggles DO exist and that there is truth for every lie. Thanks for being willing to admit your own struggles...now go delight in the beautiful way God has created you.

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  9. Love this. *Really* needed this. Big time. Love ya Rache!

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  10. Awesome post! Thank you for writing this, it's so encouraging and inspiring!!

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  11. Rachel, thank you SO much for writing this and letting us all read it. Because I do the same thing--ie, I'm actually pretty skinny, but I wish I was skinnier, I wish I didn't have such a square, "Polish-looking" face, I wish I had red hair instead of brown . . . etc, etc, etc. But I really don't need ANY of that stuff! I'm fine just the way God made me, and I need to start recognizing that fact. So it really helps to read that other people go through the same struggles :)

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    1. Goodness, girl. We ALL have them. So glad to be able to encourage all my sistahs this way! :D

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  12. This is beautiful and awesome and so are you, Miss Rachel.
    My body-type seems to be a thick hourglass. And body image is something I struggle with.
    But most of my body works well and I can still praise God for that and I am beautiful now. Yes, my body is not perfect. But I am beautiful now.
    Thank you for this post, Rachel.

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    1. It was such an eye-opener to me, when I realized that our concept of beauty is so one-dimensional and doesn't even contain any consideration for the beauty of skill and science and technique that is going on all the time under the surface!

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