Last night over 200 women gathered to talk about body image. A third of the women were young girls (middle school, high school and young twenties).
Body image is a painful subject for most women.
There are two great influencers in our lives when it comes to how we view our bodies. Mother and media. Prior to age ten the significant woman in our life impacts how we see the body – our body. I asked women to text in what their mother (grandmother, sister, aunt etc.) taught them about their body. It may have been a spoken or unspoken message. An unspoken message is like when a mother constantly diets or has plastic surgery or can’t go out without make up.
The text rolled.
It’s not what’s on the outside but what’s on the inside that counts – (Really!? Then why do we look at our butts in the mirror while trying on a pair of jeans!)- your too fat – watch what you eat – you have love handles – men will only love you if you’re beautiful – thin is in ….
You get the point. Toxic right?
Have you ever stopped and thought about what messages you received about your body? How have they impacted your body practices (how we use and engage our body)?
The second influencer in how we view our body is media (no duh!) Advertisement is a 100 BILLION dollar business. We see over 2000 ads a day. And what are they selling? Image. If you buy this you will be … “cool” “sexy” “successful.” Advertisement sells image.
If that’s true, and it is, then what’s it selling to us women? Let me just say 20 years ago the average model wore a size 8, today she wears a size 0! Need I say more.
But mom and media aren’t the only ones forming and informing our view of the body. The Church informs us too. I asked the women to share what messages, spoken or unspoken, they learned from the Church about what it means to have a female body.
Women are responsible for sexually purity – theirs and the boys too! Be thin. You’re husband needs you to be beautiful. You’re not sexual. Be put all together (especially when you go to church). What you wear is very important (especially when attending church). Don’t focus on outward appearances as much as the culture. The body is a Temple (meaning be respectful of it).
Think about it. What messages have you learned from the Church?
And are they true? That’s really the question we’re after. What does it mean for us to “image” something? Body image. What are we imaging – after all? That’s for tomorrow.
Tomorrow I will talk about body theology – God’s perspective of the body. My hope is we might start to deconstruct what we’ve learned and reconstruct God’s vision for our bodies.