Surviving an Airbrushed World When You’re Hiding Your Stretch Marksposted 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!