Do you struggle with weight issues and a poor self-image? Do you struggle with shame and rejection linked to your self-image? Well, it has been heavy on my heart to write about my journey and what I am being taught by the Lord as He unravels lies that I have believed with regards to my self-image. I hope that through my transparency you may be able to relate to my story and that it will bring all of us into a greater revelation of discovering how the Father views each of us and that His opinion is really the one that counts.
To put things into context for you, I will give you some background into my story. My struggle with my weight began a very long time ago. I recall being around the age of 8 or 9 when one of my great aunts said these words to me: “Caryn you need to lose weight as you need to enter the Miss South Africa Competition one day and they only choose girls who are thin.” Just as a side note, I had NO interest in entering the Miss SA Competition as I had zero interest in modeling, yet this statement greatly affected me and from that point on I became very aware of my weight and the fact that I was NOT skinny. I was constantly reminded that I needed to lose weight and not eat too much. How you looked also determined whether you will meet a husband and be socially accepted. There was a real big focus on external appearances and fitting into what society deems acceptable. All of this really messed with my self-image and identity as I believed that fat equaled ugly!
In my high school years, my poor self-image and the lies I had partnered with took its toll and I decided to join Weigh-less and through this weight loss program, I lost most of my excess weight. I began to establish a balanced lifestyle and eating healthy became a part of my everyday life. Looking back, I realized that what motivated me to keep going was that people were telling me that I was looking thin and according to me, thin equalled beautiful. I managed to maintain my weight to some level but after leaving my job to pursue the call of God on my life, I hit a huge roadblock. The structure and regiment I was familiar with was broken, and more freedom meant I was not as dedicated to an eating plan. Over time the weight began to pile back on. I tried various eating plans, but it was as if I had zero will power and nothing worked. This left me rather despondent.
Fast forward to a little over 4 weeks ago… My brother got married! Now weddings are a rather big deal!! I wanted everything to be perfect and in place with regards to how I looked on the day BUT it turned out completely opposite to what I had anticipated. Rather it was a day that exposed my wrong beliefs and shone a spotlight on lies that I have been partnering with for a long time.
The day started off with my hair turning out WRONG!! I often curled it and it always turned out perfectly but this time around it would not hold its shape. You know the feeling when you have a clear picture in your mind of how you want things to look but it does not turn out that way. Well, that was me! To make matters worse a few days earlier I had also visited the hairdresser and my hair colour came out much lighter than I had anticipated so it felt like I was bombarded with thoughts of how BAD and UNRULY my hair looked and what would people say as I am the sister of the groom.. like really. My thoughts ran away with me… why did I go and colour my hair? Why is this happening? What did I do to deserve this? I absolutely partnered with a victim mentality and a wave of sadness overtook me. My mom, on the other hand, was trying her best to console me and saying that I must please not cry as we need to get done.
Just when I thought things could not get any worst, there was the dress! I loved the dress when purchasing it but when I put it on the morning of the wedding, I felt so BIG or for a better word FAT and it felt like the dress was just not the right fit for me. I thought to myself I really should have done more to lose weight for this wedding. It was a strappy dress but looking at myself in the mirror through my distorted self-image I thought to myself I really should have taken a dress with sleeves to cover up my chubby arms. How did I not see this when I bought the dress? Negative thoughts bombarded me, “my arms look so big it looks like I have arms as big as Hulk Hogan or a sumo wrestler of some sort”. “Oh, my goodness how big are they going to look in the photos and my big arms are probably going to ruin the wedding photos as they will take up the whole photo!” I did eventually get done but I left the house that morning feeling very unpretty.
The wedding was breathtakingly beautiful, but you see what I walked through was not a wedding issue. My poor self-image was the issue at hand. I knew that the Lord was shining his spotlight on my body shaming and insecurities linked to my poor self-image.
The days following the wedding, the Lord began to bring perspective. He began to fill my heart with truth and began to break the shame off. If you keen to read more about breaking out of a cycle of shame, you can check out my previous blog post striking through shame
Here are some truths that I am learning along this journey and would love to share them with you:
You are not what you weigh
The scale or your BMI is not a true reflection of who you are. God created you uniquely, yes you are really one of a kind. There is no one in the world who will ever look like you, in any way or form. You are God’s masterpiece and He put you together with a specific plan and purpose in mind. You are beautiful and perfect in every way, don’t doubt it!
“You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate insides and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb. I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex” (Psalm 139:13-14)
Comparison kills authenticity
You will never be the person God has designed you to be if you keep comparing yourselves to those around you. Comparison stops us from being authentic and real. You were never meant to imitate or look like anyone else. We need to begin to celebrate and embrace who God created us to be and that includes our flaws. So, I want to encourage you to STOP comparing yourself to others but rather celebrate your uniqueness.
The media distorts
If you are like me and struggling with your self-image, I want to encourage you today that because society determines that skinny is beautiful it does not make this statement TRUE.
Society and the media will always be shouting things at us, but we don’t have to partner with
External beauty is fleeting but internal beauty last forever
We live in a world that that defines our worth and value by what we do or how we look but this is a false representation in my opinion. True beauty comes from within and our worth is not found in the external (beauty, weight, accomplishments) but in the person of Jesus. Let Him redefine who you are and not the voices around you.
“Let your true beauty come from your inner personality, not a focus on the external. For lasting, beauty comes from a gentle and peaceful spirit, which is precious in God’s sight and is much more important than the outward adornment of elaborate hair, jewelry, and fine clothes.” (1 Peter 3:3 -4 TPT)
Love the reflection in the mirror
I am on a journey of learning to love myself and that includes the things I dislike about myself. We really need to love ourselves completely and therefore I want to embrace my chubby arms and big hips as they are part of the things that make me uniquely me. We also need to be aware that if we struggle to love ourselves, we will also struggle to love those around us. Let us begin to love the reflection looking back at us in the mirror!
Stop the negative self-talk
We need to work on our self-talk, as so often we are partnering with the negative thoughts passing through our heads. So often we are telling ourselves how we are not good enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough and the list goes on. The Bible tells us that we should be taking these thoughts captive and making it obedient to Christ, therefore we need to be replacing these lies with the truth of the word. Let us begin to break the cycle of negative self-talk with positive affirmations.
I am beautiful (Song of Songs 4:7)
I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
God is within me, I will not fall (Psalm 46:5)
I am dearly loved and chosen (1 Thessalonians 1:4)
So to conclude, let us STOP being so concerned about the opinions of others, let us STOP
We can now straighten our crowns, walk upright and know that we are adored by the king.