If We're Created in His Image, Why the Struggle with Body Image?
- Friday, February 02, 2007
A fresh perspective…
Like most women, I’ve spent many a morning making frequent trips to the mirror, which I find quite disagreeable. And, like most wives, I’ve enlisted the help of my husband as fashion consultant. If you can call it help. “It looks fine,” is hardly helpful when I know good and well that my pants do, indeed, make my rear end look big. And every once in a great while, when I find that rare outfit that actually succeeds in making me look skinny, “fine” is not reassurance. Instead the word turns to an insult in my mind, making me doubt the clothes I was so excited about minutes ago.
More than once I’ve questioned why Ryan can’t just tell me what he thinks: a wolf whistle when I look great and a gentle, “maybe something else” when I look like an elephant. A few months ago, I got my answer.
Ryan and I were dressing to go out with friends and he had on a polo shirt, not unlike the dozen others he owns. I walked into the bathroom and felt like I’d stepped onto the set of “Freaky Friday” and we’d switched places. There he was staring at the mirror, with a frown on his face, turning this way and that, checking out all the angles of his reflection. Let me just pause to say that Ryan is more than just “fine” looking. I know I’m a little biased, but countless other women have echoed what I already know – that he is “fi-ine.” He has huge blue eyes framed by dark eyelashes, a sculpted face, broad shoulders, tan complexion and a tall lean, athletic frame.
But his build, however attractive to me, has always been an insecurity of his. Someone, somewhere along the way, told Ryan he was skinny and he’s believed it ever since. “This shirt makes my arms look skinny,” he stated, sounding scarily like me (only I wish I could find a shirt that would make anything look skinny). I told him the truth. The shirt looked great on him. “No it doesn’t. It looks stupid,” he answered in a harsh tone.
I could hardly believe it. So, I took him through the positive points of the outfit from top to bottom, thinking surely that would boost his ego and his mood. I was wrong. Now I was mad. Not only was he griping about a totally nonexistent problem, but he was more or less calling me a liar and getting mad at me for telling him how sexy he was! Exasperated, I said, “Fine! Wear whatever you want to wear. I don’t know what to say to make you happy!”
Whoa! Where have I heard that before? And suddenly, I realized how annoying I was! In five years of marriage, this was the first mirror incident hosted by Ryan, but how many times had I staged a similar scene? And I realize now that when I gripe about my appearance, I put Ryan in a position where he can’t win. If he denies my self-accusations and compliments me, I dismiss him as just telling me what I want to hear. If he tells me what I think is the truth (and fortunately for him, he’s never been brave enough to do so!), I’d be crushed. There was nothing he could say to make me happy. So, he had developed the best answer he could think of, the infamous “fine.”
God has given us the gift of physical attraction. I believe we have a responsibility to take care of our bodies for health’s sake and to honor our spouse. But when I am overly critical of my appearance, I dishonor God’s creation, insult my husband’s taste in women, and make my spirit less attractive. Instead, I should remember that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” and when Ryan tells me so, it will be just fine with me.
A seasoned perspective…
Athletics and physical fitness have always been high priorities for my husband. Even now, at 53, he plays basketball three days a week to keep in shape. I should have been clued in to this priority early in our dating life. This man had played four sports in high school and football in college. When he wasn’t playing sports, he was watching sports on TV. From the very beginning, our dates often involved some sort of athletic pursuit—baseball, swimming, bicycling, jogging, etc.
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