A Fresh-Squeezed Take on Body Image from the Author of Unsqueezed
- Friday, July 16, 2010
Oh, yeah! That's been part of my personal journey. I just can't take myself too seriously! There are these things that I believe about what bodies are for, what God gave them for, and then all of a sudden I'll see myself doing something particularly nutty. In fact, as I was getting ready to come to this conference…
I had traveled a few weeks ago, so all of my favorite clothes that I wanted to wear here and look so special, I put them in the washing machine with this bright red jacket… and everything came out pink!
I'm glad to know I'm not the only one.
Yeah! I just had to say to myself, this is perfect as I'm preparing to speak about how unimportant appearances are. It just made me laugh that this outfit that I had literally imagined wearing for months was just gone, destroyed.
I think that as women can talk about these things and agree together how silly some of it is… like some of the commercials for shampoos and hair conditioners that show the split ends, and all the molecules?
Under a microscope, right?
Exactly! People, these are ends, they don't even do anything! So I think that as we have those conversations, we can help set one another free from some of the silliness that's marketed to us.
Is there anything wrong with wanting to look your best?
[Sighs]… That's a great question. As I was doing this thinking and dreaming [in preparation for the book], I originally wanted to say, "Appearances are not important at all."
But I was kind of pushed by a friend, who said, "Really? Because…" - whatever it is for me, you know, with the tie-dye, or the beads or whatever - "it looks like you do put a bit of time and energy into your own appearance." So, I was challenged. And I realized that where it goes bad is when we become obsessed with this preoccupation with ourselves.
So no, I don't think there's anything wrong with looking good, with appearing attractive. Where we go astray is with self-preoccupation. An example would be a businesswoman who pulls out her credit card in Nordstrom's but is done with it in 15 minutes might spend less time and energy on her appearance than I do at my thrift stores looking for the perfect accessory to go with this or that. So I think that when we look at the time and the resources that we pour into ourselves, that's a pretty good barometer of how we're doing.
And it's applicable to so many things when it becomes about us. You've already touched on the fact that you want to help people discover why God gave us bodies. So can you finish that sentence for us? "God gave us bodies because __________."
Yes, I really believe that God gave us bodies to love God and love other people. I think we see that most clearly in the person of Jesus. Jesus is the visible image of God, and I know that's not supposed to be literal, and yet we can really see who we're supposed to be when we look at the physical body of Jesus: when his hands feed people, when his eyes see people who aren't otherwise seen, when his ears really listen to people who aren't heard, when his knees bend in prayer. I think that that is what bodies are for, and we see it most clearly in the person of Jesus.
And then we figure out what that most looks like in our lives. It might mean shoveling for an elderly neighbor. It might mean holding a friend's baby who's got colic. Whatever it is, when we use our bodies to love God and other people, our bodies are doing what they were made for.
How has your journey of writing the book and discovering these themes changed you, and how can it change others?
I feel like on the journey of both living it and writing the book, I have realized the importance of doing it with a friend. When it's just me, I either get stuck in my head or fail, yet I think when we do the journey with others, we're all strengthened. For a while I had what I call a Body Buddy, I had a Hair Buddy for a while (she had sworn off $150 highlights with her hairdresser, and I knew she was going to need some support to live that out, so we became Hair Buddies)… another friend decided not to buy clothes for one year, and that had been something that had been on my heart for a while. I didn't want to do it! But when I saw her doing it I said, yeah, I want to be a part of that and do that with you.
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