Destiny In Bloom

Surviving an Airbrushed World When You’re Hiding Your Stretch Marks

Surviving an Airbrushed World When You’re Hiding Your Stretch Marks

posted on March 9th, 2011 / by Melissa Aulds / 45 Comments

My mind was elsewhere as I maneuvered through the entrance of Barnes and Noble towards their café area. I was carrying my computer case, an overloaded purse, a coat, and my precious Nookcolor, trying to balance all that and my six-month pregnant body on a pair of stiletto heeled boots I probably should not have tried to wear that day. As I teetered dangerously before righting myself near the magazine racks, I continued on towards the general direction of the café and felt my irritation grow.

By the time I had ordered my snack and gotten seated at a table to begin working, I was feeling completely unsettled. What was it that had managed to get me so disgruntled just between the entrance of B&N and my lunch table? Perfection. Freaking perfect, gorgeous women everywhere! That moments-long pause and the walk through the magazine section towards my destination had been plenty long enough to fill my mind with some of the world’s most beautiful women. It didn’t take more than a split-second past that point for me to subconsciously begin measuring myself against the covers. Oh yes- and best of all, I had walked past a huge rack (As in the metal rack the magazines are stacked up on, c’mon now!) of Sports Illustrated’s most popular issue of the year … if you catch my drift. So I had lots to measure!

You laugh, and when I realized why I was all in a snit, I laughed at myself too. The truth is we are surrounded by images of perfection as we live our lives. It’s enough to make me want to test-run a burqa. Or go find Amish country.

Seriously though, the pressure to live up to these airbrushed beauties can build up to dangerous levels if we aren’t careful. It is incredibly easy to find ourselves forgetting who we are and adding up our pounds vs. inches as if the sum of the number gives us our value. Because let’s not forget, we’re not only battling our own minds and the society we live in. We are also in a battle with the enemy of our soul who would like nothing more than to convince us that because we’re never going to look like that in a bikini we are somehow lacking. (When really, does the model herself even actually look like that?! Hello, airbrushing!)

One second I’m thinking about the quiche I am really craving (Hey- what can I say, my baby girl loves quiche!) and the next I’m comparing the waist line of the 20-year-old, airbrushed model on the beach to my own no-longer-existent waist. I mean, yeah, it’s because my tummy is full of my daughter, but in that moment it’s really easy to let the discrepancy between the model’s inches and my inches tell me I am worth that much less. Maybe it’s just me … but considering how many women in America deal with eating disorders, like I used to, I doubt it. Considering many American women haven’t known life without some sort of diet for most of their adult (and even teen) lives, I doubt it. Oh, and those facts don’t differ between Christian and non-Christian women, so I really doubt it’s just me. So what can we do about it?

When the world is shouting at us that perfection = Beauty = VALUE, what do you do? You have to start by drowning it out with someOne else. Because here’s what He says about you,

What a magnificent woman you are! How beautiful are your feet in sandals. The curve of your thighs is like the work of an artist … Your nose is as lovely as the tower of Lebanon that stands guard at Damascus. Your head is held high like Mount Carmel. Your braided hair shines like the finest satin; its beauty could hold a king captive. How pretty you are, how beautiful; how complete the delights of your love. You are as graceful as a palm tree, and your breasts are clusters of dates.” (Song 7:1-7 TEV)

“O my love, how beautiful you are! There is no flaw in you!” (Song 4:7)

“Behold, you are beautiful, my love! Behold, you are beautiful! (Song 1:15)

Now, I can almost feel some of you dismissing those verses. Would you stop it and behold already?! He calls you beautiful. The One who created the mountains and their gorgeous vistas calls YOU beautiful. The One who created the most delicate and exquisite of all flowers calls YOU beautiful. The One who has personally created every exceptionally stunning woman from the very beginning of woman-kind calls YOU beautiful. The One who knows beauty, who created beauty, who is the most qualified of all to judge calls YOU beautiful. Would you quit arguing and receive it? Because really, in the face of all that (over) qualification who are you to disagree with His assessment?

“But I’m overweight and my stomach is all stretched out from my kids.” “But you haven’t seen the cottage cheese on my butt.” “But my breasts are saggy and stretch marked.” “But I have acne.” “But my teeth are crooked.” “But my Hair is too frizzy, too thin, too thick or too straight.”  “But I have this birthmark on my face.” ”But my nose is too big.” “But I have stretch marks that are practically cavernous on my hips and thighs.” “But He’s not talking about MY breasts. I have no breasts.” “But I’m too short.” “But I’m too ___________.”  (Insert your excuse of choice right here. We all have one. Or ten.)

We have a choice. We’ve listened to the world, to the enemy, and to ourselves; will we stop for a minute and listen to what He says about us? Because this is scripture, it’s living and powerful, it’s not just words Solomon wrote for his lovely bride; it’s also words straight from the heart of God Himself to YOU right now. He calls YOU beautiful. Will you believe Him over the lies you’ve received?

I really hope so, because it’s truth. We are beautiful not based on what we see in the mirror, what other people say or think, and not even based on what our husbands say. We are beautiful because He says so. Period.  That’s the stark truth. The question is will we stop arguing and behold? It’s scary, it’s hard, and everything we’ve believed and all those thought patterns we’ve had for most of our lives have to be set aside, so we can choose to take hold of this truth that is so key to who we are.

In Song of Solomon there is a reference to catching the “little foxes” that spoil the vineyard. Some of these thought patterns we have, these lies we believe, are slippery little foxes. It takes some effort to kick them out of our vineyard. I’m not pretending I have this mastered … my little episode in Barnes and Noble illustrates what a struggle it still is to take those sly foxes and reject them in favor of God’s truth.  But we can do it! 2 Cor. 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

YEAH- We demolish! Let’s demolish! You’ll laugh at me again, (but that’s ok) when I tell you that I verbally respond when I catch a fox in my vineyard lately, and it’s working. I call out that lie with my mouth. “No! That’s a lie. God says I am beautiful, I am lovely, I have value.” (Or whatever the issue I just caught is…I got myself a fox problem I’m sorting out, LOL.) Speak the truth with your mouth every time a lie tries to make itself at home in your vineyard. Because I will tell you frankly, I am a lot more concerned with what this little daughter of mine I’m carrying will see in me as she grows up than I am concerned with what the people in the car next to me will think when they see me talking to “myself”. How will I expect this baby girl to believe me when I say she’s beautiful because God says so when my life tells her that I don’t believe it for myself?

So yes, I will admit, a LOT of the “excuses” above are straight out of my vineyard. But, together Jesus and I are kicking them out. And that, my dear friends, is how you survive in an airbrushed world when you’re hiding stretch marks!

45 Responses to “Surviving an Airbrushed World When You’re Hiding Your Stretch Marks”

  1. Thanks for this! Love the point on dealing with foxes especially! My precious hubby is dealing with some of those that are telling him he isn't as handsome as God made HIM, and I'm going to share this point with him. Thank you from myself and for him too!

  2. Well done, gorgeous. Lovelovelove it!!

  3. As always Mel I love it!! Thank you for sharing your heart and being so open…..as I sit and compare myself to you! And how cute you are preggers. Looks like this mama has some fox hunting to do :)

  4. Fantastic, Melissa! I battle those foxes regularly and I don't even have to go to Barnes and Nobe – I just have to go to church, get on facebook, go to the grocery store. After two kids and not losing the baby weight from the last one, I compare myself to others frequently – stinking insecurity – ugh!!!

    But… Thank you for such a insightful article. I will remember the foxes, I have more than I need, so I think I'll shoot em' with the Word of God. Have a blessed week.

  5. Great article. Thanks for sharing! :)

  6. Good one!

  7. You kick butt girl! I love what God has done in your life!!

  8. Melissa, Thank you!!! I was just talking with one of my friends about this! You hit the nail on the head!
    I battle those pesky foxes as well. But I know what He sees, I just need to look at that instead of my nasty mirror that lies! Praise God for you, so well done!

  9. Well Said. As the mother of a Daughter, I recently learned (the hard way) that the way I carry myself and my stance that I am beautiful in God's eyes, no matter what the world may tell me, is so critical to the way my baby girl will develop her self view. Thank you for helping us all to remember that we are to be measured by what God has envisioned us to be and not by the World's standards. Happy Hunting!!!

  10. I love that! "My stance that I am beautiful in God's eyes, no matter what the world may tell me, is so critical to the way my baby girl will develop her self view." I love how you phrased that- wish I had written it so clearly myself.

    and Happy Hunting indeed!

  11. To quote Cynnamon- Happy Hunting Bonnie!
    I keep laughing as I picture us all mentally prowling like Elmer Fudd with his shotgun, only hunting foxes rather than Wabbits ;)

  12. I love having friends like you to walk with me! Love you <3

  13. Thank you!

  14. Thanks for taking the time to read it Michelle, <3 You!

  15. You're so right…the comparison like to sneak up on us anywhere, and if the enemy can get us distracted by insecurity at church how much more he gets to steal from us then… Wonder how much I've missed during services because I was distracted by my self-consciousness? Well, no more :) We'll hunt foxes together!

  16. Ah, my sweet soul sister! You and I are so much alike it makes me laugh. The more I get to know you the more it amazes me how our lives have echoed one another's…and not just the last year, and now we get to go a-hunting together… works for me!

  17. Thank you Nancy! Makes me happy to hear you liked it since I love your writing so much!

  18. Loved this, Melissa! One day Katie refused to get ready for church. We took the L&L approach and didn't get into a power struggle with her . . . we just let her wear her mismatched clothes. When she realized we weren't going to "make her" dress appropriately and that she didn't have time to change she got pretty upset. I leaned down and said, "Don't worry, honey. Just smile . . . it's the most beautiful part about you anyway." And then I thought, why don't I talk to myself like that???

  19. Seriously… Why don't we? Thinking on this….

  20. Thanks Melissa. This' very encouraging to me because my body after 4 babies has the most cellulite and stretch marks and I weigh the most I've ever weighed and have a lopsided c-section scar but I will do what you say and everytime I see myself in the mirror and those lies try to come I will silence them with God's truth. I look better after everytime I excercise but my body will never be perfectly airbrushed and that's okay because God made me me and I am His and we have said yes to have His babies and to raise them in His ways. Yay for us mommies!!!!!!! ♥Heather ( P.S. plus I heard in heaven we get a new body whoot, whoot!) Not to mention I think you are one of the most beautiful women especially after I read all your blogs. Inside and out, simply beautiful!

  21. You are totally right, none of us will ever be perfectly airbrushed but when we choose to believe what God says about us instead of what we think or see I am confident our perspectives will begin to heal and shift… (and I'm totally for the new bod in heaven- w00t w00t) So glad you found encouragement today… <3U!

  22. SOOOOO glad I read this! Song 7:1-7 brought me to tears!
    Yesterday I had a meeting with a company who signed me to model with them. Please note I hadn't seen them for 6 months and had since gone through a divorce and lots of stress.
    They looked me up and down in disgust and said "what have you done to yourself?….you used to be so skinny….this is NOT the same body we signed " …..I laughed actually when that came out of their mouths as I have been weight lifting with a body building group for the last 4 months. Needless to say they fired me wich didn't bother me too much until later when my mind started messing with me and I was tempted for the first time in a year to starve myself like I was a few years ago.
    Those thoughts were still in the back of my mind this morning……. they aren't anymore.
    I've worked really hard for this booty and muscles…being "skinny" isn't all that its cracked up to be AND i like carbs :)
    Thank you Melissa… i needed this.

  23. Mel –

    I think you did a really great job with this article. Having a little girl definitely shifted my mindset as it is just not okay to have these tiny little princesses believing that they have to live in a patterned box cut out for such small numbers. God has made each of us unique and this idea of physical perfection is just ridiculous! I am shocked at the marketing and placement aimed at 5 year olds these days. I pray that God gives us moms the strength and wisdom to model positive behavior and to teach our little girls and boys to "hunt the foxes". Love you!

  24. Love it!

  25. What's up with all the Heather posts?? Anywho…great job, Mel! When you can BELIEVE that He see's beautiful when He looks at you, don't you agree that 'beautiful' looks different at that point? Like what I used to think is attractive, I no longer think so…and then there are things the world calls attractive that I embrace as well…but I can with a stance, because I KNOW who I am. I KNOW Who's I am. I KNOW how He see's me…not matter what! So it free's me up to decide what 'beautiful' looks like to me. I think it's different for all! It's a matter of exploration! Does this post make me sound high? Sorry. lol… I ramble!

  26. Oh honey! I am so glad you caught that nasty little fox before he dug a burrow in your mind- because you look wonderful. I love you!

  27. Great wisdom right there, "I am shocked at the marketing and placement aimed at 5 year olds these days. I pray that God gives us moms the strength and wisdom to model positive behavior and to teach our little girls and boys to "hunt the foxes"." I just may have to quote you!! <3 You!

  28. Aww, thank you, so glad!

  29. Melissa,
    Great truth, and practical wisdom on how to carry it out. Good writing! You ARE beautiful. :)

  30. Fantastic job sweetheart!

  31. No it makes perfect and WONDERFUL sense…when we embrace and fully accept that God says we are beautiful it HAS to change our definition of what Beautiful is. Because until then we've accepted our society's view and Hollywood's idea of Beautiful…but when we begin to truly believe His truth it kind of explodes that box… Beautiful won't fit inside society's box at that point…and that's a good thing. Wow- love it heather!

  32. Thanks Pam!!

  33. Thanks babe! I ♥ you so much… you are the very first one who made me begin to believe I was beautiful and it grew from there!

  34. M! I always love the frankness of your posts, and your perspective. There are so many ways we "airbrush" all to hide the fundamental wrestle that you so clearly and compassionately drag into the light. We are looking to the wrong source. Thanks that you don't back down!! Thanks that you keep pointing us all toward the light!

  35. The Lord said, we are His workmanship… He made me, He made me beautiful, that is how His eyes see me, what else matters?

  36. "How will I expect this baby girl to believe me when I say she’s beautiful because God says so when my life tells her that I don’t believe it for myself?" Being the mother of three girls, this statement hit me like a brick and brought tears to my eyes!!! This is a subject God has been speaking to me about for a while. He and I have work to do! Thank you for allowing your life to speak!

  37. Beautiful written, truth spelled out and it is our choice to walk in it or not. Love the visual and reference to catching those foxes. So true, so true.

  38. Great article!

  39. this was just what i needed after a night of little sleep, and an early morning of waking up to a not so attractive feeling postpartum body! thanks for sharing!!!

  40. Love, love, love this!!! Thanks for being so real Melissa! Love you!!

  41. Thanks Melissa! In light of all the comments I've been getting lately "Are you sure there's not two in there?" "HOW far along are you?" "You're pregnant everytime I see you." etc. etc. This was a nice encouraging word!

    Love ya girl!

  42. So good. Thank you Lord for this Word and thanks Melissa for being courageous to listen AND write it out. I love Heather's response. After having 3 kiddos myself and loosing a ton of weight after the second and gaining way to much back after the third I have been having such a struggle within. I wanna believe those things I train my girls that they are beautiful. I need to believe it myself.

  43. I love this and I'm so gonna demolish some things!
    Thanks girl! He IS for us!

  44. Ugh Mel! This topic has been on my mind A LOT lately. Especially as I look in the mirror–offended & startled by the image that seems to have kidnapped & eaten the cheeky hot girl I was 4 babies ago. You & Heather are among some of the most beautiful women I know. It's crazy–that like me, you would struggle to feel not just beautiful..but beautiful enough. Well, I'm done w/it. Too many years have slipped through my fingers bc of the lame shame that comes w/that kind of deceitful nonsense! NO MORE! Though I NEVER thought I'd look the way I do today? You're right. Oppressive lies won't lead me to freedom or bring back the hottie in me. So foxes eh?? Shooooot, a pack of wild dogs must be roamin this area of my vineyard! Lock n load girls we've got some huntin to do ;D

  45. I love the title of this post, and the advice to be aware of where messages about our concepts of beauty is coming from. Although I love portraits of beautiful women (of all ages, in all body sizes, pregnant or not) I am finding myself more and more disgusted by the airbrushed images that even pass for casual "snapshots" in the weekly tabloids. Whose teeth are that white, skin so clear and hair so smooth? Even celebrities who make a living at looking better than the rest of rely heavily on digital enhancement. I've always been skeptical of the mass media's ability to present realistic and positive images of women, but now I'm getting downright annoyed every time I pick up a magazine off the rack. Thanks for this post.