Body Image & Beauty (and Why I Had to Apologize to My Kids)

I’m about to just lay it out there. Transparent. All the ugly.

The Lord really convicted me, all of a sudden, late one night. And I want to share it with you because I know I’m not the only one who struggles.

It’s hard being a woman. It’s even harder when you live in a culture like ours, where plastic surgery, airbrushed magazine covers and Instagram filters work overtime telling us how we should define beauty.

We have an innate desire to be beautiful. I’m pretty sure of that. And very few of us are probably completely content with our appearance.

I have struggled with physical self-acceptance my whole life. I compare. I want to be beautiful but I don’t look like her. At a very young age, I started soaking up beauty tips and tricks to try to improve my appearance.

Pride. Vanity. We shouldn’t dress it up. That’s what it is. And it can quickly even become an unhealthy obsession. And how to draw the line?

The Bible speaks of beauty and even beauty regimens. So the desire to be beautiful is not, I don’t think, inherently bad, as some would believe.

But for me, it had become an unhealthy obsession. I’ve always been thin, able to eat anything without a second thought. Until my last (11th) child was weaned. And the pounds started creeping on until I found myself 25 lbs heavier. For the last year I’ve spent my days yo-yo dieting between Keto and counting calories. With little success.

But when the Lord convicted me, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Because I am a really transparent person, I say what I feel. Out loud, all the time, to anyone listening. Which means my children have heard me lament about not being able to lose weight, and “I can’t eat that” or “I guess I’ll just be fat.”

What on earth am I teaching them??? That beauty lies in appearances. Which is the opposite of what the Bible teaches.

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain. But a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

And the opposite of what I want to teach my daughters. I have said with my mouth that “inner beauty is to be valued.” But lately, I have said with my actions (and also my mouth) that outer beauty is what gives us our value. (This also goes with our complaints about wrinkles, less than attractive attributes, etc.)

So, I’ll sit down tomorrow with all my girls (and my boys too). I’ll apologize and ask forgiveness for not living out what I say I believe to be true. I’ll praise them for their inner beauty–that which is not fading, but growing ever more radiant. And I’ll vow, and try really hard, to never speak derogatorily again about my outward appearance.

The truth is we come in all shapes and sizes. We don’t need to let expectations define us. We can eat healthy, exercise–all in balance, but ENJOY LIFE (and eat the occasional favorite food), praising God that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, realizing people value us for our inner attributes–and so does our Creator.

27 Responses to “Body Image & Beauty (and Why I Had to Apologize to My Kids)”

  1. Marilyn says:

    Amen! I have been struggling with weight gain after babies, and this was very timely. I need to remember this. Trying to find the balance between accepting my body and doing my best to lose the extra is a difficult balance to find.

  2. Anne DeRuiter says:

    Yup. All of it. But I remind myself I have all the right parts in all the right places and they all work, therefore: perfect.

    🙂

    • Bev in Texas says:

      This is very timely for me as well. I have struggled with 60 pounds that I put on in 3 months after our little boys accident. It just won’t go anywhere no matter what.
      I realized a few days ago that my 15 year old daughter is skipping meals! She is in no way overweight but feels like she is. I’m praying about what to say to her since I’ve been a really bad example. I know my weight is unhealthy and I am suffering with some issues so I decided to break down and go to a doctor to run some hormone and other tests. So how to keep trying to lose the weight but let her know that she’s perfect…..

  3. Chrissy says:

    Thank you for sharing! I realized after baby #7 that I was giving my kids the impression the reason I am now overweight is because I have had so babies. Yikes!! How did I expect my kids to value life, God’s creation (in the womb and out), and desire to have a family when I have been in poor health and giving reasons like, “I have had 7 kids, remember??!!” The Lord convicted me a couple years ago. I’m so thankful to God! He never lets us sit in our junk. Always making us to be more like Jesus our Savior. I repented and sought the kids forgiveness.
    We talk a lot about healthy lifestyles and a lot about Jesus. I pray Jesus is the biggest focus here. Lord, help us!

    • Gosh, that’s such a great insight. I had that thought too…what if they don’t want to have children? God’s grace is sufficient in our weaknesses. We WERE willing to sacrifice. That means something.

    • Bev in Texas says:

      This is so true! I have never said this but I have many friends that have told me this in front of my kids (“what do you expect? You’ve had so many babies” . I have always pointed out that we have other friends that have had more than me and are in much better health than me. It’s not a numbers game.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Just when I’ve been a little grumpily thinking about my post-six-babies body, those extra lumps and loose bits! God has been so good to bless me with a body able to carry those six blessings, and I need to frame my attitude in light of what He says, not what the world expects.

  5. Autumn Beck says:

    Oh, Kelly. I am absolutely speechless. Last week I hit a major wall and literally everything you wrote could be my words. I cannot begin to praise God enough for this post arriving in my inbox and me actually reading it! Thank you for your transparency, the Lord used it to bless me. THANK YOU!

    • Autumn,

      This brought me to tears. This post sat, unpublished for 8 days because it was just so real/raw. I’m so thankful He prompted me, and thankful it ministered to you. I love how God orchestrates things.

  6. Kim M. says:

    Great post!

  7. Lisa T says:

    Thank you, Kelly. This is excellent advice. I was convicted a few years ago when I was complaining about my weight, “I’m so fat,” and my daughter told me she didn’t like it when I said bad things about myself. What a wake up call! Have a blessed week. Lisa

  8. Mari says:

    Wow, spot on! We were just discussing this last night as my twelve yr old was talking about weight. Her big brother told her that God makes us all different sizes, shapes, looks, personalities… It was good for her to hear that from her big brother. Thanks for your post. I will be sitting down to discuss with my children too as I struggle with the same things you mentioned.

  9. 6 arrows says:

    An important topic.

    I can attest, from the perspective of a woman who has wished she could gain more weight, that it’s very easy to be dissatisfied with one’s body.

    I’ve been wanting to put on 15 or 20 pounds for many years now, but you know what happens when I gain a little? I complain that it only goes to one place and doesn’t get evenly distributed.

    And so I try to tuck in my belly when out in public so that little poof on my skinny frame doesn’t show so much.

    If I look deep inside myself, I know the solution isn’t to get to a certain number on the scale, or a certain visual proportioning. It’s to thankfully embrace the physical characteristics God has given me, without grumbling that my looks aren’t what I want them to be.

    Am I making dietary and exercise choices that help give me energy to serve the Lord in the way He calls me, whatever the scale or mirror may say? Do I model gratitude in how the Lord created me? Those are more important questions — note to self — than playing the numbers game.

    Thanks for this post, Kelly.

  10. Amanda says:

    Amen Kelly!

    I love reading your blogs! I am a mother of 5, the oldest one is recently turned 7. I have had so many comments about our kids close together, knowing what causes that right?, that my husband and I were seriously considering trying to do family planning, and feeling guilty about having kids so close together. But after reading your posts about mothering, and children being a blessing, and the Biblical truths you put in those articles, it renewed our conviction that we are doing what is right and following God.

    So as a result of having all my babies, and not paying close attention to eating very healthy, I do have extra weight that, for a long time, I was always complaining about to my husband. Every sunday I would get upset because I felt I never looked good in my clothes, and the other ladies at church would judge. I read an article somewhere about how your husband wants you to be confident in your body, and that it makes him feel so much better. I realized it was true….when I complained to my husband about my body, I could see him get so discouraged. Then I started to really think about my mindset, realized it was not healthy, and it was not helping me lose weight or be motivated to lose weight when I thought like that. Most importantly it is not how God intended for us to think of ourselves. We ARE fearfully and wonderfully made! We ARE made in the image of God! Our identity is not found in man, nor what man thinks. Our identity is in Jesus Christ! The only one who has the power to change our hearts and lives! If we are always focused on how we aren’t skinny enough, or don’t have enough weight, that can take away from our focusing on Christ and cause us to not be a good witness for Him. Our weight then becomes an idol. Something taking the place of God, or distracting from God, in our lives.

    When I finally realized all of this, and I wore a dress to church because I wanted to and not because of how I felt I would look, it was so freeing!! I could focus on the sermon, I could focus on the fellowship of the other women, and not be constantly worried that they would stare at my belly chub. Lol
    That’s not to say i don’t still struggle with it. But when I feel the feelings coming back, I say “not today Devil!” I am resting in the assurance that God loves me how I am. He made my body type this way, and as a previous lady said, I am so thankful that I AM able to carry my babies with my body! My sister in law is very thin, but because of her body shape, has had to have her 3 babies by c section. 🙁
    (I know not every thinner women had to have c sections, but in her case she did)

    So I hope that made sense, and can help someone out!
    Hebrews 12:1-2
    “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

    Let us not obsess over our weight or how we look, but look to Jesus, and run the race before us with confidence!

    • Oh Amanda, I loved your thoughts here! Yes, I think it can border on “idolatry” although you never used that word. It’s so encouraging to hear how you are finding freedom. And it’s true…there is so much attractive about a confident woman, even if she isn’t “perfect” physically.

  11. CARLA KIZER says:

    Thank you Kelly, this really hit home for me. I owe my lovely family an apology, because my negative behavior to this recent weight gain was ugly and definitely not a good example to set, for my daughter or my sons. Our bodies are the temples of God and we are to love and take care of them not body shame or over emphasize on how they look but to build up the inner man to be more like Christ.

  12. D. says:

    Amen to all your thoughts. No matter if one is skinny, in between or larger, we all end up with self-criticism and thinking that “she” looks so much better than we do.

    While I do wish I could lose some belly flab and the stretch marks and cellulite would magically disappear, I think about the miracle it is to carry a live person. How much more valuable that is than refusing to have children just to maintain ones physique.

    My dear daughter commented one time about my stomach looking droopy and was “hanging over” to which I laughed uproariously and told her she was a contributing factor! I hope my lightheartedness can show all my children that they are worth the extra flab and that contentment is not in feeling good about myself and my appearance, but in serving the Lord (which in many of our cases is serving our family).

  13. Kelly Crawford says:

    I love it! It does help to reflect on what a miracle life is, and our ability to carry and nurture it, and the reminders “mark us” should be thought of in that light.

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