Body Image: Embracing Your Imperfections

You're perfect in your imperfections." Body Image Series |LydiaGlick.com

To be comfortable in your own skin –

this is a destination I want so much for you to reach. It is the place in womanhood when you will wake and walk and sleep, and never think for one second that the body that is housing your soul is not beautiful or capable enough for the journey in front of you.

It is the day you understand what it means to embrace your physical flaws, knowing that your imperfections, your scars, your pain and your inadequacies are all opportunities for grace, healing and redemption to be known in your life, your body and in your heart – and then in turn you will be equipped to extend life and love to those around you.

There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty. ― Steve Maraboli

Deep and meaningful radiance flows from a woman who embraces the person God created her to be. This kind of beauty draws people near you instead of intimidating and pushing them away. It creates a space to bless others, and leave an impression of loveliness that will forever be imprinted on their hearts.

Your message, your ministry, your influence is built from your flaws. People relate to HUMANITY…not perfection.” ― Mandy Hale

Dear daughter of mine, may the song of your life continue to be a delicate melody that grows stronger and more meaningful with every day. And may you soon understand that those things which you perceive as less than perfect, are the very notes that make your life’s song an unforgettable work of beauty that lingers in the heart of all who behold it.

~ Justina Dee

Thank you for visiting my blog! This is one of the posts in a series I’m writing for my tween daughter. You can read more here. 

Body Image: Why Eternal Perspective Matters

...the Lord looks at the heart

Twenty years ago there was a seventeen year old girl who frequently attended the aerobics classes  I taught at a small gym in Tomball, Texas. She wasn’t the kind of girl you would ever see on the cover of a fashion magazine. As a trainer who’s taught classes at gyms for many years, I regularly see women and girls whose bodies and faces are perfect by our cultural standards. The girl I’m talking about here wasn’t the prettiest one in the hundreds of those who took my classes over a long period of time. I’ve long forgotten many people, but SHE stood out in the sea of faces, and I remember her to this day because of her ready smile, her gentle confidence and deep sincerity, the genuine interest she took in the lives of those around her, and most of all – the true LOVE and JOY that she radiated in her world. She was truly beautiful. 

One day just like any other, she took my aerobics class. And the next day I learned the horrible news that she was killed in a car crash after being hit by a drunk driver. This life on earth is fragile gift. A shimmering vapor that is here today and gone tomorrow. And even though this girl’s life on earth  tragically and abruptly ended, her beauty has not faded, but instead it lives on. 

So what does any of this have to do with a healthy body image? I believe it has EVERYTHING to do with the way we perceive beauty. You see, our society’s definition of beauty is temporary. It’s something that fades with time, and in some circumstances it is snatched away in an instant. Time wrinkles perfect skin, and burns bring scars. The strength and vitality of a “perfect” body fade with the years, and horrific accidents can break our nervous system causing a beautifully functioning body to become useless and paralyzed in an accident. You could be named the world’s most beautiful woman, and be disfigured by tragedy the next. The kind of beauty we see around ourselves from day to day us is temporary. 

But here’s something that never changes: The Word of God. And that’s why His definition of beauty is the only one that is trustworthy and true. It’s the standard of beauty we should set for ourselves, and it should dictate the way we perceive others.

You see, God’s Word says that “people look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” And it tells us “the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” It’s important to understand beauty through the lens of eternity.

What is eternity? I love Jenn Arman’s explanation on Project Inspired. 

An eternal perspective is one that views a much larger picture than the one we see in our time-oriented lives. Having an eternal perspective helps us to focus on things that transcend time like God, grace, mercy, love, faith and hope, instead of losing ourselves in our circumstances. An eternal perspective also assures us that God has a reason for the things He does, the things He allows and the answers He gives, even if we never understand the reason in our “time.”

True beauty is defined by what is inside. An “unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” Earthly charm and beauty fade away, but a woman who loves and worships Jesus as the Lord of her life will be highly esteemed and praised! True beauty not only stands the test of time, but the test of eternity. It will never, ever fade away. It’s an eternal legacy.

Dear daughter of mine, no matter what this crazy, upside-down and messed-up world tells you – no matter what the magazine covers & commercials say to you – no matter what famous Tumblr girls, popular YouTube channelers or your Instagram stream shows you – no matter what a boy tries to whisper in your ear or your so called friends may try to convince you of, the only thing that matters is what God says about you. And no matter what anyone tries to tell you, know this: as a daughter of the King you can stand firm on the truth and firm foundation of His Word. You are beautiful, you are loved,  you are perfectly and wonderfully made, you are of great worth and value, and God has designed an incredible plan for your life. 

~ Justina Dee

This is the third of seven posts I’m sharing with my eleven year old daughter who is navigating the rocky waters of self esteem. You can find the first post here: 10 Things That Make You My Beautiful Girl 

Additional resources:

Focus On the Family post: What the Bible Says About Beauty and Appearance 

Bible Scriptures Referenced in Post: 1 Samuel 16:7, 2 Corinthians 4:181 Peter 3:3-4, Proverbs 31:30

10 Things That Make You My Beautiful Girl {the next five}

As a mother learning to help her daughter navigate the treacherous waters of body image, I am learning one of the most valuable things that I can do is help her understand the true definition of beauty by identifying teaching, encouraging and reminding her on a daily basis of things about her that are beautiful – and unrelated to weight, size, and our warped and idiotic (I know it’s a strong word, but it’s true) cultural ideals of beauty. I want my daughter to understand and know beyond the shadow of a doubt that even if she loses all that this world shallowly defines as beautiful, her inner beauty will still remain, and shine clear and bright in a dark world. Last week I began a seven-week series on body image, by writing about five things that make my daughter beautiful, and this week I am sharing five more. If you have a daughter, I encourage you to make a list of at least ten things that make her your beautiful girl and read it to her. I know she will be lifted up and encouraged, as my daughter has been!

6. Your identity

A person’s name is a way we identify someone. When Daddy and I found out you were a girl, we spend countless hours pouring through baby name books, looking for the perfect one for you. We wrote many lists of names we both agreed were beautiful, then carefully researched the meanings. Then (together) we prayerfully decided on the name we gave you on that unforgettable day you were born. Amazingly, the meaning of your name has proven itself to be a true representation of your remarkable and strong character and personality! Your identity comes not only from your name, but from the story, personality, gifts, talents, passions, hopes, dreams, family, friends and experiences (both the good ones and the difficult) that make you, YOU. Your personal identity is completely unique, 100% original and beautiful in every way, and I am so thankful that I have been given the privilege of seeing your identity and story grow and unfold into something more amazing than I could have ever imagined!

7. Your strength

I’ll always remember the way your tiny yet very strong fingers wrapped around mine when you were a baby, and you squeezed with all your might. And I remember the day you decided you wanted to roll over, and you practiced relentlessly until you accomplished the amazing feat. Even when I was pregnant, I could feel that you held an incredible sense of determination. I’ve seen what happens when you set your mind to something, and your tenacity and “stick-to-itivness” inspire me every single day. From pushups to a difficult math problem. From teaching your dog a new trick and not quitting till she gets it right, to practicing a dance routine until you can perform it perfectly. From learning a new volleyball skill with Daddy to following through with a personal decision you made about anything from eating healthy food to keeping your room clean, your determination to finish the task you’ve started is a rare and valuable quality. Keep on working hard, flexing the muscles in your spirit, body and brain, and growing stronger ever day. Your strength is beautiful and powerful, and will help you accomplish great things.

8. Your hands and feet

I’ve always loved these words:

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7 NIV

This verse reminds me of YOUR beautiful hands and feet. I know that you want to travel to foreign countries and share the Gospel someday, but let me tell you a little something about you that is happening at this time in your life. I’ve seen your feet run towards those who need help. I’ve seen them walk into places and lives void of the Gospel and share the love of Jesus with people who may never have heard of Him before, as you served refugees and orphans. I’ve watched your feet walk beside a little one, holding their hand and helping them stay safe along the street. I’ve seen those beautiful feet of yours walk towards a person who is sad, so that you can give them a hug. I love the way your feet can’t stay still when you hear music you love. Those feet of yours have been dancing since you were a tiny girl – bringing joy everywhere you go. I’ve seen you dance in praise when no one but me is watching and it makes (happy) tears roll down my cheeks. I know God loves watching you too. I love the way you kick off your shoes and run barefoot every minute you can. And your hands! They are incredible! They care for others, they create, they make music, they draw, dance, hold books while you read, they write, they help – I could go on and on and on. Your hands and feet are perfect, and absolutely beautiful.

9. Your knowledge and love of learning One of the things I love most about you is your unstoppable desire and quest for knowledge. When you want to learn about something new you will research it for hours on end. It’s exhausting for me to even think about it! I love when you gain new insight and understanding on a matter and the light bulb goes off over your head. I’m in awe of the way math comes so easily to you. How quickly you learn foreign languages, and when something interests you, you give yourself no rest set until you’ve learned more about it. Your intelligence, knowledge and love of learning is an incredible gift, and it is beautiful.

10. Your sense of adventure If we lived in the days of pioneers, you would be on the wagons rolling west. If there was an uncharted mountain looming in front of you, you’d want to climb it. If someone was in danger, you are the girl who wouldn’t stand on from the sidelines wringing your hands as you watch, but instead you would bravely run to help.  Your wonder & excitement in not only the big things but tiny treasures like hummingbirds and butterflies are a joy to see. Always keep your sense of adventure. Never lose your wonder. They are beautiful.

Blessings to you my friend, and to your daughters. Thank you for taking the time to visit my little spot on the web. May each of us understand more of what it means to be truly beautiful. ~ Justina Dee

Related post: 10 Things That Make You My Beautiful Girl {The First Five}. Next week’s Healthy Monday post: “Body Image: Why Eternal Perspective Matters”.  Also coming soon: How Your Unique Creativity & Talents Make You Beautiful

10 Things That Make You My Beautiful Girl {the first 5}

Intro: Today I’m beginning a series of seven “Healthy Monday” posts dedicated to my daughter. I’m appalled and devastated at the manner in which western culture has already begun to define her perception of beauty and her own body image, despite all the rigorous efforts on my part as a mother to keep it from happening.

I naively believed I had this healthy body image part of mothering figured out. But there was a day it all changed for me. I was talking with my distraught daughter. She was curled into a ball on her bed. Her sweet little head was on her pillow while gut-wrenching sobs came one after another. My heart felt like it was being ripped inside me. My (then) eight year old daughter had just told me she believed she was ugly and fat. I was flabbergasted. Shocked. Numb with disbelief. Infuriated that the world had inflicted such pain upon my daughter. How could this have happened? Her daddy and I (with much sacrifice) had protected her at all costs. Daily surrounded her with love and affirmation, and truth about who she was. Reminded her always of her great worth and the beauty that radiated from her heart. Even guarded her from the torrent of media that pours out it’s superficial lies and values to our little ones. Between my torrent of tears and her body-shaking cries, I coaxed her to tell me why she felt this way. She told be she had been carrying this burden since she was five years old. A little girl she knew, loved and admired looked at my daughters healthy body with it’s little girl belly and told her that she was fat. And that her teeth were crooked and her face wasn’t pretty. And my innocent child believed her. And never told me what happened till this day, several years later.

My daughter is not alone. Did you know that at the tender age of nine, 35% of girls are already dissatisfied with their bodies? (1) WHY?! I’ve been on a mission to find the answer, do something to change what’s happening, and help my daughter heal and navigate through this territory of a healthy body image. Over the next seven weeks I’ll share the things I’ve learned here. I value your input on the issue, please comment with links, resources, quotes and any helpful advice you have to share. I’m starting the series with ten of the many things I believe define beauty in a young lady. They may seem cliche, but that’s ok with me, because they’re true!

Disclaimer: if you don’t want to see the words “love” and “beautiful” written over and over again, stop reading now. (Smile.)

10 things that make you beautiful

Ten Things That Make You My Beautiful Girl {the first 5}

1) Your caring heart.

There’s nothing in the world more beautiful than a heart that cares for others. If you filled every house, skyscraper and shopping center in New York City, Paris and Hollywood with the best makeup, most expensive lotion, most-watched YouTube beauty tutorials, modeling how-to books, and fashion magazines, and used every single one of them, they couldn’t do a single thing to make your heart more beautiful than it already is. Because Your heart is a reflection of your character, and that’s a beautiful, valuable, precious gem that money can’t buy. I love your heart. I’ve seen it in action. The way you care for the people you encounter is an inspiring thing to see, and it makes me so proud to be your mother. There are countless ways to test what someone is made of. I’ll mention two of them here. The way you interact with children and animals, those weaker than you, and those who you will gain nothing from that counts in this world, and number two: the way you treat these same ones when no one is watching. I’ve seen you act on your tender respect for the least of these countless times. And the way your heart cares is beautiful.

2) Your perfect face.

I love every part of it. The beautiful, defined shape. Your radiant skin that gets all rosy with exercise. Your forehead and eyebrows that raise with surprise and furrow with frustration, where I love to gently rest my hand when bedtime comes. Your perfect nose that always finds a flower in which to bury itself. Your cheeks that I’ve covered with countless kisses since the day you were born. I love the way your jaw clenches with determination. If I could choose one daughter from a million girl’s faces, I would choose yours every single time. It’s lovely in every way. I still look at your face when I come to check on you at night while you sleep. I see your lashes resting on your cheeks, look at your ears, your perfect lips and beautiful hair framing it all, and I shake my head in disbelief, a tear rolls down my cheek and I whisper “thank you” to your Creator as I once again am overcome with your beauty. And I love to see your face peek around the corner when you wake up in the morning. I cannot believe how blessed I am to have a daughter with a perfect face like yours.

3) Your strong, healthy, beautiful body.

You have a beautiful, strong and healthy body. As I watch you grow I marvel at your energy, vitality and beaming health. When that incredible body of yours bounces into a room it’s like a ray of summer sunshine that brings energy to all it encounters. God designed every single inch of you with a specific purpose in mind, to bring much glory to himself, and make an eternal impact on the world. Your body is PERFECT. There’s not another man, woman, boy or girl in the world who will be able to do the things you can do, with the unique DNA you have running through your amazing veins . From your height, to your size, to the way you move, to your weight, you are beautiful. Your body is a perfect, delicate, strong and priceless vessel made for incredible things. Your worth is never measured by what others think of your body. Always remember what God thinks about you, how he lovingly made you, how He treasures you, the way he knows you and deeply loves you – and remember and know that your strong, healthy, beautiful body was made to do great things.  (Psalm 139)

4) Your sparkling eyes.

I fell in love with your eyes the moment you were born. I’ll never forget the time when you were a tiny baby, and your eyes truly looked into mine for the first time. I was moved to tears at all your eyes said, and the complete trust and love you placed in me. Whether your gorgeous eyes are sparkling with joy, or brimming with tears of pain or sadness, they are an incredibly beautiful thing to see. The eyes are windows to your soul, and because your soul is beautiful, your eyes bravely and brightly shine that inner beauty of yours into the world. I love the way your eyes are filled with expression, and you’re never able to hide what you’re truly feeling. I love the way dark circles under them will always tell when you’re tired. And the way you’ve fought with everything in you from the time you were a tiny baby to keep them open and not miss any of the possible adventures taking place around you. The way you see things amazes me. From shapes in nature, to tiny objects on the sidewalk, the adorable green ribbons a little elderly lady in town is wearing in her white hair, to a classic car driving down the road beside us, to the first bluebonnets and robins in the spring. The way you use your eyes to seek out and notice the people who need to be noticed – those ones no one else sees. Ah…your sparkling, eyes bring such joy to this mama’s heart.

5) Your gorgeous, contagious smile.

How I love that smile of yours – filled with joy, happiness and delight. When you smile, your whole face shines with such radiant beauty! I love the times you’re laughing hysterically with friends, when you tilt back your head and smile and laugh with all you’ve got. It makes everyone around you feel happier! I love to see you smile when you’re alone – reading, or dancing at home, or listening to music. Since you began smiling as a baby you’ve never been one to hand out your smiles to anyone. They’re always deserved. And that makes them even more special. You smile at elderly people. Lonely people. People who are sick, and sad, and feeling down. You share your smiles with babies and little children. And they all smile back. And I watch you, and I smile too. You’ve experienced some deep sadness and pain in your young life, and that makes your smile all the sweeter and more beautiful & meaningful. I love that knowing smile we exchange, where you nod your head slightly, and grin a little at our own inside joke. And you have your daddy’s humor and quick wit. I am always amazed at how you have the right words to say, at exactly the right time, and we all laugh and laugh and laugh. Your grandfather tells the story about falling in love with your Grandmama’s gorgeous smile forty years ago. It’s one of the sweetest stories I’ve ever heard him tell. And you’ve inherited that incredible smile. Keep smiling darling. And never, never stop. Your gorgeous, contagious smile has a tremendous amount of power and influence, don’t you ever forget it.

Next week come the next 5: Your beautiful hands & feet, your incredible strength, your knowledge & appetite for learning, your endless creativity, your brave spirit – and the icing on the cake; your unique identity (the story that can only be yours).

1. Liechty, J. M. (2010).Body image distortion and three types of weight loss behaviors among nonoverweight girls in the United States. Journal of Adolescent Health, 47 (2), 176–182. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2010.01.004

Links:

Verses on Self Esteem 

Find Your True Beauty

A Mighty Girl

Dove Self Esteem Project 

HP on “Am I Ugly Videos”

Eye Opening Statistics About Body Image