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  • Writer's pictureRuth Sauers

What if we blessed our bodies

I was talking with some friends the other day about our elementary, middle school and high school daughters. We were fiercely adamant that we don’t talk about the numbers on the scale, we do not comment on whether there has been weight gained or lost. When it comes to our daughters appearance, we do not emphasize anything other than you are beautiful, you look lovely today. And sometimes, when necessary, we instruct others to also not comment on weight gained or lost or on whether you look skinny or chubby or anything in between. And the reason we are so adamant about this is because we have grown up in this world, in this culture - a culture that tells girls and women that your worth is primarily made up of the way you look and what size you fit into. And we know what that mindset can do to a young girls soul.

Thankfully, culture is changing, and body positivity is a thing. But it might not be changing fast enough, or completely enough. There are still spoken and unspoken rules about what is beautiful. Women are still objectified by their body and their face. It’s good that we are seeing this and it’s good that we are fighting back by telling our daughters it’s not about a number on the scale, it’s not about your waist measurement, it’s not about lashes and cheekbones. It is about your heart, it is about your character, it is about you taking care of and nourishing your body as the gift that it is. But I think it goes deeper than that even.

Something that I’ve been noticing through various conversations and encounters with women is that we don’t preach the same message to ourselves that we are preaching to our daughters. We desperately want our daughters to believe that who they are is so much more than what they look like - but why don’t we believe it for ourselves? Why do we look at ourselves in the mirror and think such negative things? Why don’t we fight back our own thoughts and mindsets as fiercely as we fight for our daughters to know what truly matters? Why don’t we stop ourselves from the negativity that flows from our minds and our mouths and affects the way we view ourselves? Mamas, we have work to do. Our daughters are never going to believe they are more than what they look like, if we don’t believe it ourselves. They are learning from us - more from what we don’t say than what we do.

What are my daughters learning from me? Are they learning that dieting is a way of life for middle-aged women? Are they learning that being a certain size matters so much to me that I will deprive myself of certain good things just to get there? Are they learning that I don’t feel happy and content with my body unless I’m small? Are they learning that some foods are considered good and some bad based on calorie content? This is a grave thing to consider. One day our daughters will be us - how have we prepared them to love and accept themselves through changing seasons?

Please understand this is me writing about this as I wrestle with it. I am thinking about all these things in real time. I don’t have it figured out. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. But I think this matters. I want to do better. I want to treat myself the way I want my daughters to treat themselves - with grace, compassion, with kindness, with awe at how our bodies work, with amazement that we get to be living breathing human bodies on this earth, that we get to steward this precious gift of life in our earthen vessels. That God made man and woman and He called them very good- He called our bodies very good- I want to believe Him.

I recognize that this is a very nuanced and layered topic. I recognize that some of us were told horrible things about our bodies and maybe some of us have had horrible things done to our bodies and those scars remain and inform our present, sometimes the voices are so loud. I recognize our bodies are broken in various ways, some with sickness, some with trauma, some with years of believing lies. I think healing begins with acknowledgement of this, and kindness and love for ourselves.

I think the way we talk about our bodies matters, the way we talk to ourselves, to our friends, to our thin friends, to our medium friends, to our larger friends. Why are certain body types praised? When someone says something nice about my body and doesn’t say anything nice about the larger body next to me, you know how it makes me feel? Awkward and bad.

When someone says something nice about the smaller body next to me and doesn’t say anything about my larger body, you know how it makes me feel? Awkward and bad. Why are we so careful with our language with our daughters and then why do we turn around and say things about our middle-aged bodies that we would never say to our daughters or let anyone else say to them? Is there a certain age of reckoning when we start to gain weight and our bodies are no longer good, no longer worthy? Why do we tell our daughters, you are beautiful no matter what, and we look at each other and say, you look pretty because you’re thin?

We deny the exquisite creativity of God when we say that there is only one body type that is attractive. And we deny our intrinsic value when we focus on our bodies as the measure of our worth.

I think we need to be louder about this - with our words and our actions. I think we need to take our own attitudes and mindsets into account just like we fight for our daughters to know their worth.

What if now in this season where many are bemoaning the rolls we might have gained over the holidays and loathing the layer of extra padding that’s insulating us this winter - what if right now we blessed our bodies? What if we blessed the thighs that are thicker than we’d like? What if we blessed the tummy that’s carried children and bears the scars - or maybe it hasn’t carried children but it’s been an integral part of our nourishment and digestion for our entire lives? What if we blessed the arms that we think are too thin or too wide, the arms that have served us and so many others? What if we blessed our feet whether we like them or try to hide them? What if we blessed our faces- our laugh lines and wrinkles, our nose that’s a little crooked, the way our eyes are not symmetrical but they window our souls?

What if we blessed all these pieces of us and called them what they are- evidence of a living, breathing, human life- a life that can’t be measured by a number on a scale or a measuring tape - a life that is precious and unique and stunning?

So absolutely, replace some of the cookies with fruit, replace the sitting with walking, increase the veggies, get more sleep- but also, replace the negativity with blessing, replace the criticism with kindness, replace the lies with truth, replace the self-deprecation with understanding that God created you, you are beautiful, you are lovely because He loves you.

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