Everyone has a physical body, and everyone has a mental representation of their body. This representation, or image, can at times shape our thoughts, feeling and actions. This image can fill a person with pride, lead to feelings of sadness or perhaps not have any impact. Body image falls under the category of mental health because the way you think about your figure can impact you in profound ways. Let’s look at some clinical definitions for distorted body image, see what the Bible says about your body, and look at a first-hand testimony of dealing with a maladaptive body image.
A distorted body image can be stated as a disturbance in how weight or shape is experienced leading to an inaccurate perception of an individual’s shape and size. This distortion can become harmful very quickly when an individual uses an inappropriate coping mechanism to deal with the “problem” that they feel their body poses. There are serval inappropriate compensatory responses that an individual could use to try and fix this perceived flaw. Those include purging food from their stomach, heavily restricting their caloric intake, or unduly using exercise as a means to remove extra calories. These unsuitable coping mechanisms come with a whole host of side effects, such as impaired kidney functioning, cardiovascular difficulties, dental erosion, electrolyte imbalance, and rupture of the esophagus. These are obviously some devastating consequences caused by a mental health struggle, so let us look at what the One who made your mind and body has to say about your physique.
What Does the Bible Say About Your Body
God feels very strongly about every part of your being and has supreme love for you. Psalm 139:13-14 says,“You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” This verse points to the fact that God formed you into the wonderful amazing creature that you are. The word fearfully when translated from Hebrew means to inspire awe. We were made inspiring awe and God put us together in our mother’s womb to be unique, amazing, and wonderful. While at times we might only focus on our physical appearance, we are so much more than that and God sees all the way to the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Through choosing King David over his attractive brothers, we can see that God sees more than physical appearance. He sees your heart and loves you. God cares for your heart and regardless of how you feel you look; God loves you. I want to share
one more verse regarding how God sees our bodies. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago, Ephesians 2:10.” We are a masterpiece created by the hands of the master creator. He formed the inner workings of our body and molded our physical appearance for His purpose. He loves you and your body as it is because He created you to be His masterpiece. He wants you to show love to yourself because He fearfully and wonderfully made you into the amazing person that you are.
A Testimony on Body Image
As a young woman starting my senior year of high school I quickly became aware of my physical appearance. I constantly saw images of models and athletes with bodies that didn’t look like mine. I heard girls talk about what size jeans they bought and felt immediately insecure. I even had a boy (whose opinion mattered very much) tell me he was more attractive than me, breaking down my confidence even more. This began my struggle with accepting and loving my body as I opened a gym membership with the intention of changing how I looked. Along the way I got stronger, met influential people, and gained self-confidence but also developed an addiction to the gym and changing my outward appearance. I constantly pointed out my flaws and things I wished I could change in order to have “body goals.” Gaining attention from guys and other girls built up my ego as this obsession continued into college. During the end of my freshman year I decided to launch my first extreme diet consisting of morning cardio, weight-lifting at night, and a seriously restricted diet. After 5 weeks my body felt depleted and my emotions were on edge. I realized I focused only on myself and how I looked and ignored other relationships. I decided I needed to stop after having several panic and anxiety attacks. I had to learn how to eat normally again without counting calories and looking at a banana as 25 grams of carbs. The restriction turned to binge eating when I was around plates of desserts and foods I never allowed myself to enjoy. It took time to relearn how to view food as fuel and not the enemy. It took time to learn to love my body the way God created it and not compare myself to other girls, although it is still a struggle at times. A few things that have helped me have been surrounding myself with friends who admire other things about me, such as my kind heart for people or encourage me in school – there is so much more to you than how you look. I learned how to use the gym to build up confidence knowing I was created by God not by myself, not to create an ego but to honor God with respecting and treating my body right with appropriate amount of exercise and nutritious food. Although the journey has been tough, in the end God combines my passion for fitness as well as a passion of Jesus by allowing me to encourage other girls to find confidence in themselves in a healthy way!
God loves you the way that you are. This community loves you for your laughter and your smile and your kindness. You were not designed to look like me. You were created to be like you. You are smart. You are beautiful. You are amazing.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or body dysmorphia and would like to talk about it, feel free to reach out! I am an open ear willing to listen and pray with you :) 619-572-6834 VM
Free on campus counselling- UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services (310) 825-0768
If anything is causing you to have suicidal thoughts or ideations, please reach out to someone, such as The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.
It will get better. Do not choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem
I want to make myself available as a resource, if anyone needs anything. (530) 863-6128 J.N