“You are perfect…made in God’s image…”.
Hah! I have a hard time buying into those thoughts when I’m standing under the harsh fluorescent lights in a tiny dressing room with mirrors on all sides, trying on those little pieces of fabric called a swimsuit.
When I was a kid, this annual trip to the mall used to be exciting—swimsuits meant summer vacation, days at the pool. But as I got older, the swimsuit-shopping trip meant only one thing—frustration at my failure to be thin, to be pretty.
When did the “swimsuit issue” appear in my mental mailbox?
You may know what I mean. You wonder, how did I become a person who drapes a towel from head to foot, only dropping it at the last second before the first wave threatens to soak me, towel and all? Wasn’t I once a kid who ran in and out of the water with buckets and shovels, sprawling freely in the sand to dig the moat around the sand castle? At what point did I start to believe the media is the judge of perfection rather than my Creator? When did the “swimsuit issue” appear in my mental mailbox?
I was a competitive swimmer as a child. I literally lived in my swimsuit—in and out of the water for practice and play every day, even in the winter. I don’t remember the exact age I started grabbing for my towel when I hopped out of the water after finishing a race, throwing on a sweat suit to wait for the next event rather than cruising around the pool with my friends. I’m guessing it was somewhere around 9 or 10, probably when one of my coaches first told me I was getting a little chunky and needed to watch out.
I remember this because I went on a “diet” soon after. My first diet and I wasn’t even a preteen! My first diet and the end of being comfortable with my body. My first diet and I noticed, for the first time my friends and I looked different—and I was sure I was never going to look like they did, thin and pretty. At 9, I started down a path that led to many years of disappointment and a fear of seeing my own reflection—particularly when wearing a swimsuit.
I had a quiet assurance of the Creator I could turn to.
Looking back, I mourn sometimes the moments I lost in my childhood to my fear of food and my own body. But even in the darkest moments, the times I felt most isolated and alone, I had a quiet assurance of the Creator I could turn to. In the moments before I fell asleep at night and in the first morning light as I greeted each new day, I prayed so hard to be thin.
Well, it should be no surprise I didn’t magically lose weight, but my childlike inclination to turn to God with my troubles created an early bond that still carries me through so much good and bad. God was a companion who was always by my side, my Savior and Friend.
I never had an “aha” moment that healed my obsession with being thin. I married a wonderful man who adamantly refuses to believe I am anything less than perfect. This helps. But nothing could be resolved until I could truly believe it myself
Clearly, I couldn’t expect to wake up one morning physically transformed into my idea of “thin,” and recognizing this has taken a greater understanding of what it means to be God’s unconditionally beloved daughter. After years of hating my body, I knew my perspective and my prayers had to change—out of respect for my Creator and respect for myself.
I remind myself I’m made in God’s image.
This change wasn’t immediate and it’s certainly not complete, but in the occasional dark moment I remind myself I’m made in God’s image and He is holding my heart and hand while I grow into acceptance. This gentle reminder never fails to shake me out of my funk. And, each time I have success in recognizing my true self, in reasserting my worth, I feel healthier and more comfortable in my own skin.
My “swimsuit issues” continue. I wish I could say I’ve become completely comfortable with my body shape and size, or that this doesn’t matter because I’ve become the mirror image of the latest airbrushed supermodel. But what has really changed is my attitude and my refusal to be afraid of my own body.
My newfound confidence has done more for me than any diet ever did. I’ve learned to manage my sweet tooth, I’ve learned to look for swimsuits that flatter my shape and I refuse to waste my beach time worrying about the walk from towel to water.
And my prayers no longer include a desperate plea for the perfect body. Now when I turn to God I sing praises because I still love to swim, because I feel beautiful and strong as I pull through the water. And when it’s time to pull myself out of that cool embrace, I no longer have to plot the escape route to my towel. I look around and appreciate the beauty of God’s creation—and know that I’m included.
Article by Amanda Tucker, Original article here