“Ugh! I’m so fat!” “I look gross in these pictures!” “I’m going to have to run an extra mile if I want dessert tonight!” Diet culture and concerns about our weight and appearance seem to permeate every aspect of our lives. Not only can this hurt us, it can do long term damage to our children! When we learn to embrace a healthy body image we set the foundation for everyone to thrive!
We Are Made in the Image of God
Genesis 1: 27 tells us, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.” (ESV). We know that the Bible is true so that means we were created to bear the image of our loving, all-powerful, all-knowing creator! Let that sink in as we talk about how God’s love can change how we see ourselves.
God Created YOU in His Image
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to believe God’s best for others, but not for yourself? But it does apply to you. God created YOU in his image. Not just your neighbors and friends. Certainly not just the people you think of as skinny enough, or pretty enough, or whatever enough. God created each and everyone one of us with the same love and care, and that includes you.
God Doesn’t Make Mistakes
You are not a mistake. The way you are is by God’s grand design. Since you are created in God’s image, nothing about you can be ‘hideous’, or ‘ugly’, or ‘worthless’. When you’re struggling with your body image, remind yourself that God didn’t make any mistakes with you!
God Doesn’t Expect Perfection
Do you expect yourself to be perfect before you can have a good body image? So many of us women do! The thing is, even God himself doesn’t expect perfection from us! He isn’t waiting for us to be smart enough, strong enough, or thin enough to deem us worthy of his love. He choses to love us no matter what. So if God doesn’t expect you to be perfect, stop trying to hold yourself to that standard!
Our Children Are Watching Our Body Image
There is nothing quite like a child to hold up a mirror and reflect our words and actions. They are always watching and always listening. This is especially true when it comes to how we treat, and talk about, ourselves.
Focusing on Imperfections
There is a huge temptation to ‘notice’ our imperfections on a regular basis. It seems innocent enough, a small comment about our hair, or a little remark about the tightness of our clothes. The problem is that if we become overly focused on our imperfections it can cause our kids to develop a critical spirit.
Influencing the Future
Our children are always listening. Always. They also see everything we do as normal and right. That is a powerful influence and one we shouldn’t take lightly. The way we speak about ourselves now will influence how our children speak about themselves as adults. Would you want them to speak about themselves in the same way you speak about yourself? If your answer is no, it’s a good sign that things need to change!
When our children hear our words, they don’t just influence how they see themselves. It also impacts how they treat others. If we want our kids to speak love and kindness to others, they need to see that from us. Even if we are always kind and loving to others, if we don’t treat ourselves with respect we are sending mixed messages to our kids.
Speak to Your Inner Child
I know this sounds trite, but I want you to try speaking to your inner child. It may seem silly, but we are often far more gentle with children than we are with ourselves, so give it a try.
How Should Others Speak to Your Children
Picture yourself as one of your own children. Are your words the kind you would want them to bear? Speak to yourself the way you would want others to speak to your children. If you would be angry at someone for treating your child that way, it should be a good sign that things need to change.
How Should Your Children Speak to Others
I think it’s a pretty fair assumption that we all want our children to be kind to others. One of our biggest jobs as moms is to set an example for how our children should behave. Speak to yourself the way you want your children to speak to others, because I promise you they will likely follow whatever example you set!
How Do You Speak Kindly to Yourself
It’s all well and good to know what you ‘should’ do, but actually changing the way you speak to yourself and reworking your body image can seem a bit tricky. As someone who has struggled with negative self-talk for most of my life I recently put this issue out to a group of fellow moms. The best tip I got is that any time you find yourself speaking harshly to yourself, stop right then and correct it. Say the same thing, out loud, in a kinder way! It’s all about breaking the cycle.
Embrace A Healthy Body Image
Struggles with your body image aren’t going to be fixed overnight. It’s going to take time, intention, effort, and support. Remember that you are a child of God, created in his image. Speak to and about yourself with kindness and love to honor God and to set a good example for your children.