As I was getting dressed this morning, adorning a black dress with black over shirt with black shoes and black jewelry, I recall a comment made by someone a week or so ago at work,
“Why you wearing all black? You going to a funeral or something?”
And then my mind goes to the multitude of other comments made by various others over time…
“You should really keep your hair long.
“You could light a match with the stubble on your legs.”
“Everyone could stand to lose a few pounds…” in such a manner that was side stepping saying directly that *I* could stand to lose a few pounds.
“Your ankles are HUGE!”
“You’re tummy is looking flatter today…”
“You should really wear make up more often.”
“You always wear ‘safe’ clothes…”
“You’re getting too thin.”
“You’re clothes are fitting a bit snug.”
And…the arsenal of ‘you should’ and ‘your body and appearance don’t measure up’ statements goes on and on and on.
As I ponder these statements, I also recall the LIFETIME of discontent that I’ve had about my body and my appearance. And it suddenly occurs to me that my discontent is a reflection of others’ perceptions about the way my body and appearance should be. It’s ludicrous to think about… like I or anyone has ever had any control over the body that we were born into. Yes, I can control the length of my hair and whether or not I shave my legs and I can to some extent control my weight fluctuation, and I can control the clothes I put on my body… but to be constantly aware of my body and appearance because others find some authority to speak about the condition or state of my appearance according to their own lens at any given moment, is exhausting!
I was talking to my Mom last night and she was bludgeoning herself about her appearance and the weight that she’s gained, and the thought entered my mind,
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? 1 Cor 6:19
God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Gen 1:27
The Creator of the universe also created fat cells and the shapes of our bodies. In His image. Who re-wrote the standard?
Once upon a time, man and woman walked in the garden, naked. Unashamed. Can you image being so free and so unencumbered? What must that be like not to be under the magnifying glass of imperfection and expectation? I so long for that freedom; to be accepted for every single thing that I am, not by all that I am not.
What if the focus was shifted to the attributes we HAVE been gifted with?
“I love your hair!”
“You have pretty eyes.”
“You are beautiful.”
“I love your style.”
“You’re so comfortable to be around.”
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Phil 4:8
I’d add to ’think’ about such things with ‘speak’ about such things; not just to others, but about ourselves, as well. No longer is it appropriate for me to shuffle through my closet and berate myself for having a ‘fat’ day. My body is going through a natural and normal hormonal fluctuation that requires a bit more room to accommodate it. So I wear a pretty black dress that is comfortable and accommodates my needs for that day. And if someone has something negative or contrary to say about it, I will reply back with a compliment; “I really like your shirt!” :)
Therefore, let’s keep on pursuing those things that bring peace and that lead to building up one another. Rom 14:19