body Image. 9 comments


{Linking up with Blessed Is She}

“We’ve decided that we hate you.”

“Did you come back to work just to show off how quickly you could fit back into your jeans?”

These are just a few of the things I’ve heard in recent weeks. This body image thing is a nasty phenomenon that robs women of their peace. It might seem weird for the usually tall and slender girl to sit here and write this, but God made us how He made us. No matter what we look like we are still made in His image. I’ll say that again: no matter what you look like, you are still a reflection of His boundless beauty.

At the end of the pregnancy you’d have been pretty hard pressed to snap a picture of me. I took a weekly bump shot and that was about it. I felt huge. Sure, people told me that I was all bump and that they were sure I hadn’t put on any weight, but I felt gigantic. I was uncomfortable and was quite ready to have the record-setting watermelon out of my belly, thank you very much.

Then I gave birth. Birth is this beautiful – and, yes, painful – life-changing thing. It is exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. My body changed, quite literally, over night. There was a baby in me, and then there wasn’t. But after you give birth there’s still a bump, there’s still weight to be lost. It doesn’t all just come out with the baby.

No, I didn’t go back to work to show off how quickly I fit into my jeans again. I don’t really care that people hate me because of how I looked 7 weeks postpartum. This habit we have of comparison only serves to steal our joy and our peace. It is a nasty habit. I looked at other pregnant women (and still do, if I’m being honest) with enough envy to make the Hulk look pasty white. I was (and, to a degree, still am) convinced that every other woman is a cuter pregnant woman than I was, especially at the end. I had moments of feeling beautiful, but by and large I didn’t feel it. I didn’t own it. I spent my days wishing for my old body, for clothes that fit and made me look good instead of looking like a whale.

I’m not saying any of that to humor anyone – that’s really how I felt. It wasn’t pretty, but it is the truth. And now? Two months after giving birth? Well, I’m happier than I was at the end of the pregnancy, but I still struggle with being happy with the way I look. I’ve got stretch marks. My belly button is…weird. I wonder if it will ever look the same. My hips got wider. I can easily sit here and compare myself to other women, whether they’ve had children yet or not, and find something wrong with myself.

Do you remember that scene from Mean Girls where they all stare in the mirror and point out their flaws? I don’t need a gaggle of friends to do that with, I can do it all on my own. But it is in those moments of envy and comparison that I have to remind myself what this body has done, what this body has been through. This body nurtured and gave life to another living, breathing human being. This body is still nurturing her. This body has traveled, has been sick and healthy. This body is my body, and no matter what the pictures on social media make me think of myself, there’s a stronger voice out there. That voice shouts over me – and all of us – that “you are all fair, my love; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Songs 4:7).

There is NO flaw in you.

You are God’s great love and He sees no flaw in you.

He sees beauty in you.

He see Himself – His radiant, glorious, unending beauty – in you.

He sees it in me and He sees it in you: beauty. Dignity. Worth.

Whether you look exactly like an airbrushed model in a magazine or not, He looks at you with the eyes of the most loving Father and sees only beauty. He sees no flaws, He just sees you: the wonder and the beauty that He created in you. Can you see that in yourself?

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9 thoughts on “body Image.

  • KimberlyE

    I didn’t have too much time to worry over the way my body looked after giving birth to my firstborn son, as I weighed less than I did pre-pregnancy when I found out we were expecting again (and twins!). So as the weight came back on and my hips widened (again) and the stretch marks themselves got stretch marks from two babies noodling around in there instead of just one, I figured it’d be ok–I’d “bounce back” as easily as I had been “bouncing” the first time. BUT after the twins were born, it was another story. My c-section scar, my stretched skin, my breasts . . . to me, everything looked as “tired” as I felt as a new mom to three under one. Thanks to my amazing husband and an incredible group of loving, supportive friends, I was constantly reminded of the truth you note here, Amanda. And although it took MUCH repeating for me to start to BELIEVE what I was being told, it eventually stuck and at some point, I could finally look in the mirror and see the amazing, incredible, BEAUTIFUL woman I am–“marked” with various signs of the love I share with my Lord, my husband, and the three handsome little men I co-created. There are still days I stretch my tummy tight with my hand in front of that mirror and envision what I’d look like if I’d ever dare to wear a bikini again, and I notice how quickly EVERYONE ELSE seems to shed their post-baby belly faster than I did, however those moments are shortlived as I think how I would speak to my daughter (if I had one) if she were standing in my shoes. My body may not always conform to my desired shape, but that doesn’t make who I am in the slightest. My heart knows better.

  • Bethanie Ryan

    Every pregnancy is different. I actually did leave the hospital weighing less than I did before I got pregnant, but I’m a big enough girl you wouldn’t have noticed. Most people are miserable as their pregnancy progresses and think that they look as bad as they feel. That’s completely natural. Thank you for this reminder of our God-given beauty!