Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Body Beautiful

I have been thinking a good deal about maintaining this temple of the Holy Spirit of mine. I have not had much time to stay fit, and the wear and tear of a body left to just "be" is showing. So, I have been reading articles about women's health (the HHS mandate has had me doing that, as well). One was titled, Women Put 6 inches on waists in 60 years. It was an interesting article about how we don't work as hard as we used to, and so we must "work out".

Hate is a word I commonly use in association with the phrase to work out. Nonetheless, I read the piece with some interest regarding the changes in our culture and how it has impacted not only our health, but our attitudes toward our bodies.

But, my initial thought: I must be very special. I was able to do it in far less than 60 years! (LOL)

Body image is a concept that plagues women -- young women, in particular. We search for the ideal, which in reality is unattainable without surgical alteration. In order to have the Barbie figure which has enamored the desires of young men for over 50 years, a woman must starve herself and receive breast augmentation. Although, according to this article, written on the celebration of Barbie's 50th anniversary, a life sized Barbie would actually look like a freak of nature! But, I bet, if reality airbrushing were possible, I'm sure many women would sign on.

What does this say about the way we view ourselves as women in society? Is body image the most important thing? Can we be happy without being the perfect super model? Does looking beautiful really lie in having a 22 inch waist and a 42 DDD cup? (That, my friends is the recipe for a world of back ache!)

We talk about needing to take back our culture because of issues like abortion, contraception, sexual abuse, etc., we really need to consider remediation in our culture on this issue, too.The message we send to young women is decidedly skewed on how to view and care for their bodies. Why is it not acceptable to be the heavier set woman on the right in the picture above? If it is because her health is suffering, fine, point taken. But, if it is because she is not as attractive as the woman on the left, then we have crossed a line; one that typically results in low self-respect and low self-image for the woman on the right. It can lead to all sorts of psychological trauma, as well; when in reality, she may be the healthier of the two in terms of living a good, clean life, but be the product of bad genes. That poor self image may also be a contributing factor to how she uses her body to feel attractive and loved.

Of course, the Lord wants all of us to care for ourselves and our neighbors. By reinforcing an unrealistic perspective of what "beauty" or "attractiveness" is in our culture, we are failing both ourselves, our neighbors and sacrificing future generations of young men and women to misunderstand the concept, as well. The more we look to self-glorify, the less we look to self-knowledge and self-perfection. The less we take care of what is true, good and beautiful about the way God made us, the more we will work to undo what was created in His image and likeness by attempting to selfishly redo it in our own flawed estimation of perfection.

I have no illusions that I will ever regain my 20 yr. old body. And, while I'd like to be about 15 lbs. lighter, I'm not terribly uncomfortable with the way I look. I'm not as young as I used to be. I'm also not as anxious to be active, either. I have to force myself to do it.

When all is said and done, and I have taken a brisk 20 min. walk to keep my heart healthy, I remind myself that the man I love doesn't mind that extra 6 inches around my waist. He still thinks I'm the "girl" he married almost 25 years ago.

 And, in my mirror, that looks just perfect!

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