Men, if you want to help women with their body image, stop weighing in with your opinions.

Most men genuinely want women to feel happy and comfortable in their own skin.

Most decent guys hate the way the media screws with women’s minds, making them feel like they just don’t measure up to the ever-elusive ‘ideal.’

Many men want to help, but as soon as they open their mouths they get it wrong.

scream-mouth-background_23-2147492625The other day I read a great piece of writing by Tina Fey articulating the exact proportions of different body parts that today’s ideal woman is supposed to have. It was refreshing because it enabled women to see how utterly ridiculous and unattainable all of these combined features were.

In a beautiful moment of eloquence, women around the world were united.

Until…

Enter the man.

Bless him. He wanted to be encouraging. He wanted to point out that not all men want that ridiculously unattainable ‘ideal.’ So he picked out two features, named them, and said ‘Ew.’

And right at that moment he stopped being helpful. Because while the complete package is rare, the individual features are not, and all of a sudden, millions of women were told that their ‘rock hard abs’ and ‘narrow hips’ (in this case) were ‘ew.’

Good try.

Let’s get some things straight. Women come in all shapes and sizes. Men like different shapes and sizes. Now let’s stop talking about that, and engage with each others’ minds.

Because it’s not all about the bass, or the treble… it’s about the heart and the mind.

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Instagram my Life (how we’ve all become airbrushed models)

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The magazine industry has long been slammed for its propagation of perfect air-brushed images.

And so it should be.

The criticism does not stem from society’s inability to appreciate art, but rather from the fact that we understand that what we (and teenage girls in particular) see in magazines, helps to define our sense of ‘normal.’

I’d like to propose that we can no longer point the finger exclusively at Hollywood and the magazine industry for giving us a distorted sense of normal. While we may not be reshaping our appearance to the same extent that these industries do, social media, and, in particular Instagram, has enabled each of us to put forward our own perfectly ‘altered’ version of our lives.

Instead of seeing each other for who we really are, we are assailed daily by images that have been composed, cropped, filtered, adjusted and selected from dozens more that didn’t make the cut.

We’ve Instagrammed our lives and in the process we’re re-defining normal. We’re building a discrepancy between ‘real me’ and ‘media me’ and we’re finding it hard to live up not only to the images of others, but even the images of ourselves.

I’m concerned that this ‘masked’ version of ourselves not only conceals an insecure and broken reality, but provokes envy and feelings of inadequacy in others.

So, before we post that perfect picture, maybe it’s worth asking: what message am I trying to send the world about myself and my reality?

Body Image: Self Focused or God Focused?

I’m sick of standing around with adult women having petty conversations about our appearance.

‘Your hair is so beautiful, mine is flat and gross!’

‘My hair? No it’s not, yours is awesome. And you have such a better figure!’

‘What? My figure is average! You’re so much more curvy!’

I’m even hearing it in the church! Ladies, can you hear yourselves? This is not high school anymore!

Fashion Girl Vector IllustrationMost women worry about their appearance; I’m certainly not immune. It’s okay for women to want to be beautiful, but it’s not okay to obsess.

We live in a world that pushes body image and self-love as though it’s all there is to life, but Christian woman, hear me! It’s not the main thing! It’s not even close!

While we’re talking about how that other girl’s toenails look so much better polished than ours, there are people starving, children being trafficked, or, even closer to home, that girl standing over there alone who needs a friend.

Dress beautifully girls, but be beautiful first; Love yourself, but love God more.

Body image is a huge issue in our world, and I don’t think it’s because we don’t love ourselves enough. It’s because we’re more inward focused than outward; more in love with ourselves than we are with God.

I truly believe, that as we turn our eyes upon Jesus, and look full into His wonderful face, that the things of this world will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

A few things you shouldn’t say to skinny girls…

Do you find this topic surprising? Read on.

I come from a thin family; tall and thin. People would say I’m lucky, and I am, but it took me until my mid 20’s to believe it. Before that, if I could have changed anything about my physical appearance, I probably would have chosen to be fatter.

The world seems to assume that if a woman is thin, she has chosen it. While remarking on most women’s weight is a social taboo, thin women seem to be fair game.

What goes unnoticed is the emotional-verbal baggage that girls like myself have accrued.

I have never had an eating disorder, nor desired to be thin, but growing up, I received a multitude of personal barbs:

‘Oh my gosh! You’re so thin!’stock.xchng2

‘There’s nothing to you.’

‘You’re so scrawny.’

‘You’re a stick.’

‘I’d hate to be as thin as you.’

‘You’re so skinny it’s disgusting.’

‘You’re gonna fade away.’

‘Do you even eat?’

Approaching adulthood as a size 6-8 (US 2-4), I felt abnormal and unattractive to men.

While I have overcome many of these insecurities, it doesn’t mean that people’s comments have stopped.

Just last week, my sister had a client stop her at work and say, ‘Wow, you’re so thin! I bet your husband wishes you’d put on weight so you were more cuddly!’

Thin girls are people too.

As a rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t say it to an overweight person, don’t say it to an underweight one.