Monday, April 24, 2017

I stopped using the F word (and why you should too!)

It seems no matter where you look someone or something is telling us what beautiful looks like.  You don’t have to go farther than magazines, movies, book covers, TV shows, marketing and the list goes on... 

-Eat this way and you’ll look younger. 
-Work out like this and you’ll get your “pre-baby” belly back. 
-Lose 10 pounds fast.
-Contour your face in three easy steps to look photo-shopped…
-Get bikini body ready....

What if, instead of getting hung up on the number on the scale, or the makeup we try to cover up all our imperfections with, we took a closer look at what's on the inside?  

What if we spent as much time working on us, the real us like what's on the inside, as we do to make ourselves look more:  attractive, perfect, younger, skinnier, etc?  

What if we read God’s word and believed it for what it is?

What if stopped comparing ourselves with others?

What if we believed our parents and husbands? (This is assuming they are telling us that we are beautiful and perfect just the way we are.)

What if we believed the truth about us?  That we were created in God’s image.  We are unique.  We were fearfully and wonderfully made.  We were made for a purpose.  We were intentional.  That not one of us was an accident.  There is no one else like each of us.  What if?

What if we raised this next generation with better body image and self talk?

What if we showed others what beautiful looks like, in different shades, shapes and sizes?  With imperfections and all?

What if we were so comfortable in our own skin that our kids would be too?

What if we loved ourselves, so we could truly love others?

What if we all took the word "fat" out of our vocabulary, unless we are talking about meat?  

What if everyone became less focused on getting back to "pre-baby" weight?  or "pre-freshman 15"?  or the size you were in high school? 

What if we were happy with who we are now?  What if we helped encourage others in who they are now too?

The 30 year old, 40 year old, 60 year old version of us?  We aren't in high school anymore.  We’re older and wiser.  We have babies.  (Even if some of us didn't birth them.)  Those scars and stretch marks are part of our stories.  They are part of us.  We have life experience.  We are so much more than the number on the scale.  We are so much more than that makeup on our face.  We are loved.  We are known.  We are beautiful.  We are unique.

I just feel so passionate about getting this “F” word out of our culture and vocabulary I think it can really be life-changing.  Hopefully, this will also be life-giving!

You see, words hurt.  I have never been the skinniest girl, but there were several years growing up when I was quite thin.  During the midst of those years when I was in eighth grade, a boy named Cody called me "big boned" and when I asked him what that meant he said it meant that I was fat.  And just like that, this boy I thought was my friend, crushed me.

Me in 8th grade, and my cute mom in the background!

Yes, that happened 20 years ago, and no I haven't forgotten.  Should I forget?  Yes.  
Should I forgive him?  Yes!  Did I think I already had?  Yep.  But as I write this, it’s apparent I haven’t, completely at least.

I don't know why it bothered me then, but like many, I have always feared being fat, people thinking I was fat or at least being called fat.  I’m not sure why I’ve been so aware and concerned about it.  In this world with so many other things going on and wrong, one wouldn’t think that this would be such a big deal.  But the reality it is for a lot of girls/women at least.

I went on to be rather obsessed with weight for a...lot...of years.  (I can’t say that I have actually really grown out of it completely either. Work in progress...)  In high school I got so into exercise that I had amenorrhea for a whole year.  (Sorry if that was TMI.)  But that's not healthy friends.  I actually was working out SO much (over exercising) that my body couldn’t function properly.  Our bodies are meant to be nourished and exercised both in moderation.  Even good things in excess are bad.

By the grace of God, I stopped over-exercising after a year or so and never developed any real eating disorder. Although, I feel like in this American culture at least, it’s hard to not develop some sort of poor body-image/eating disorder.  Not that I’m downplaying how serious eating disorders are, but they manifest in many different ways.  Here again, if we were more focused on the whole person, like what’s on the inside and not the outside, this would solve a lot of this problem!

Theodore Roosevelt said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” 

You see, nothing good comes from comparing ourselves to others. 

Susie may have birthed 5 babies and been able to lose all the weight within two months and still be in better shape than when she was in high school.  So what?  Molly may have been thin in high school and college but now can’t seem to lose the 50 pounds she gained after she got married.  So what?

For every woman who wishes she didn’t have a stretch mark is one who wished they did.  -Unknown Author

The grass is never greener on the other side of the fence.  It may look like it from where you are standing but you don’t have the whole picture.

Those neighbors you think have the perfect marriage may be struggling with finances or infidelity.  That woman you think has it altogether may be a mess inside her head.  (Think Randall from This Is Us.)  That single person you think has all the freedom in the world, may long to be married.  That cute couple from Church who seems so “free” and “fun” may be dealing with their own battle with infertility or illness.

If we are so desperate to make ourselves feel better (or worse) by comparing ourselves with others, there is definitely a deeper issue going on.  (I'd love a chance to chat about that if you're interested.)

So, why am I so passionate about getting rid of the F word?

It may not be the worst f word that comes up in your mind.  But this f word is the three letter one that is just as bad in my book.  It tears down.  It destroys.  It does not build up at all.

I don't want my children growing up thinking I'm not happy in my own skin.

I don't want them to think they need to diet or do this or that in order to be beautiful or accepted. 

I don't want them calling each other "f**", whether they mean it or not.  Been there, done that, have the postcard and it’s not fun for either party—believe me.

Would I like for my kids to have a healthy self-image? Yes!  
A self-image based on much more than outward appearance?  Yes!  
A self-image that is based on who they are as wonderfully, purposefully, beautifully created children of God?!? Yes!!  Yes!!  Yes!!  

We want them to be known.  We want them to be loved.  We want them to know that they were wonderfully and beautifully created by God.  We want them to be healthy.  And of course, we want them to know they are loved by us.

I want my son to know what a real woman looks like.  That it’s ok if she has curves, or cellulite, or is skin and bones, or is a little extra round.  I want him to recognize beauty based on much more than outward appearances.

So what do I do when I am tempted to use the forbidden F word, I insert fabulous

“I feel so fabulous today.” 
“Do you think this shirt makes me look fabulous?”
“Does this dress fit or does it make me look fabulous?”

The more you change the way you think, the more you believe it.  Or so I’ve realized.  God made us beautiful and different.  We don’t have to look the same or like models to be beautiful.  We also don’t have to look or feel beautiful to be beautiful.  

Other tips:
  1.     Let's wear (and/or buy) clothes that fit, are comfortable and make us feel good!
  2.     Let's get rid of clothes that we don't like, don’t fit in or don't feel good in.
  3.     Let's stop calling ourselves fat, feeling fat, or calling others fat.
  4.     Let's stop the self-loathing.  You are a daughter of the King!  You are beautiful inside and out.  You were fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe!  (Need I go on?!?!)
5.    Let’s stop comparing!  This is your life not anyone elses!  Rock your body!!  Whatever shape or size you come in!

If you'd like to get healthier and maybe lose some weight--great!!
If you'd like to gain weight to get healthier--great!!
If you'd like to stay where you are--great!!
Let's raise up the next generation as people who care more about what's on the inside than the outside.  Let’s raise up this generation as people who don’t say the F word, but instead call each other as they are:  beautiful.  Let's raise up a generation who values the whole person.  

Remember who we are, and how God sees us.  We are known.  We are loved.  We were no accident.  Let's build ourselves, our babies and our friends up!

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