Peering, squinting, staring, turning, looking and sucking it in all at once and holding up my head, and pushing out my chest and tightening up those abs and turning in my tailbone doesn’t help me, cannot make me see that beauty in my reflection or let me look at me with satisfaction and or gaze happily, with joy, at the amazing body God has given to do good works for Him when my ridiculous, sticky fingerprinted mirror cannot airbrush out my blemishes, or photoshop more thinness to my thighs? Why can’t it just adjust the the ruddy in my cheeks or smooth away the dimply skin that comprises my back side? How can I walk with head held high, and skipping steps, and lightness in my soul when I cannot come close to the beauty I think that I should be? How can I be beautiful at all?
When am I beautiful?
Can I truly leave the house and gain respect only if and when my face has been painted and colored and smoothed, with just the right amount of sparkle and shimmer in just the right places and all the right shades? Am I only beautiful with highlighter dusted on the bones of my cheeks and bronzer squaring up the lines of my jaw? When I’ve waxed and washed away the things that don’t belong? Do I only look good when the clothes that I wear slim my shape, and boost my curves, and hide the hideousness of imperfections? When can I be beautiful at all?
I am tangled up and caught in a growing, looming battle for perfection in my looks, a vanity that runs too deep to quell with just a tube of lipstick or highlights in my hair. I am a body shamer.
I am conflicted in my inner me as I look at you and feel ashamed. I will never measure the size of your thighs, or the width of your calves or the span of your backside when you walk by and I cannot bear to calculate the angles on your face or imagine the number on the inside of your skinny jeans or crane my neck to look for muffin tops or dumpling rolls or little bits of fluff poking out from under your shirt. I’ll never say that you’re too fat, that you’re too thin, or something’s just not right about how your glorious perfect body appears before me. And I won’t call out a Hollywood celeb if they’ve got a dimple of cellulite on their left butt cheek or an outfit that belonged to yesterday’s style or a top that isn’t cut low enough to show off all the goods.
But still, I am a body shamer.
I shame my veiny legs from a pregnancy that wasn’t long enough and I had to lie too still for too long and left me with scars I hide and streaks I loathe and weakened abs that could never be the same and a sweet perfect little boy who is nearly 9, and I shame my crooked hip that makes a funny lump of fat stick out on just one side, and I shame my uneven skin, and too-big ribs, and I shame my lack of a pretty waist and without wearing all the right clothes and all the right makeup and just the right hair all of the time to hide what I think is imperfect when you see me, I am ashamed.
But until I learn and live and know that I measure up just exactly how I am; until I learn that I am beautiful in the now and the then, and until I love myself for every part of me that is good, that works hard, that carries small children and cooks nutritious food, and that works to mend breaking hearts and share Jesus and kiss booboos and feed chickens… until I love myself enough to stop hiding behind long pants and thick shirts and black eyeliner and cute shoes and trendy things, until I am happy with the me that makes up myself than I am a self-righteous contributor to all that is body shaming. If cannot let myself be less than perfect than I, yes I, am a contributor to all that demands perfection and thinness and thick hair and great skin and high heels and great gams and tight bottoms and anti-aging in glorious amazing women.
God doesn’t ask us to be perfect on the outsides, He rejoices over us because we are His; He loves us.
I am a body shamer. And the body shaming must stop.
For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)