Editor's Note
: The following is a report on the practical applications of Margot Starbuck's new book,
 Unsqueezed: Springing Free from Skinny Jeans, Nose Jobs, Highlights, and Stilettos(InterVarsity Press, 2010).

Our culture is constantly bombarding women with messages that tell them their appearance is what matters most.  But God made bodies for much more than simply being viewed.  Bodies are meant to be used in all sorts of wonderful ways to love God and other people.

As a woman, it's freeing to look beyond our culture's shallow view of your body and start using your body the way God designed it.  Here's how:

Replace lies with the truth. Recognize that the pressure you feel to conform to a certain image of what our culture considers beautiful is based on the lie that you're not valuable unless you look a certain way. Replace that lie with the biblical truth that your value isn't based on your appearance, but on the fact that you're one of God's beloved creations. Stop striving to make your body appear a certain way, and rest in the knowledge that God is willing to bless you no matter what your body looks like. Embrace the truth that you're worthy simply because God says you are.

Accept your body in its natural state. Don't worry about the ways your body might not fit our culture's standard of beauty - from a nose that's too big to breasts that are too small. Instead, embrace the fact that God sees every person He has created as good and accept the natural way He has made your body rather than trying to change it to fit a cultural standard. Let the way you express yourself through your body - the way you dress and carry yourself with posture and mannerism - send others the message that you really like who God has made you to be.

Overcome temptations with trust. You can overcome your body's struggles with cravings and addictions by trusting God to satisfy your needs instead of trying to use quick fixes to try to satisfy them yourself. Realize that nothing you do to your body - from eating sweets or drinking alcohol to try to find peace during stress to dieting to try to feel loved because you're thin - will ultimately fulfill you. Only God has the power to truly satisfy your needs, so turn to Him through prayer when you feel tempted to seek fulfillment through your body.

Stop judging. Be aware of judgmental thoughts that enter your mind when you see people who don't fit our culture's idea of what's attractive. Stop them by reminding yourself not to assign people a value that's any less than the value God has assigned them. Ask God to give you the confidence to make decisions free from the pressure of considering what other people will think of you.

Say "enough is enough." Resist the temptation to satisfy every bodily impulse the way our culture pushes you to do, from eating unhealthy snacks you don't need to buying extra clothes on impulse. As you break free of gluttonous consumption, you'll also break free from a crippling preoccupation with yourself. Then you'll notice other people's needs more often, and be able to respond to them by sharing what you have.

Embrace uniqueness. Stop trying to fit yourself and other people into our culture's mold of what's considered beautiful. Instead, thank God that He didn't create us all the same and ask Him to help you recognize and appreciate distinctive qualities in yourself and in others you meet. Realize that God made people unique because they're worth recognizing.

Look beyond appearance to function. Remember that God's purpose for your body isn't to appear attractive to others; it's to perform useful functions that help you love Him and others. So rather than worrying about what your legs look like, use them to kneel in prayer often, and instead of comparing your hands to someone else with graceful fingers and manicured nails, use your hands to do volunteer work to help others in your community.