As many of you know, I’ve been dealing with matters of self perception, self awareness, and a year of transformation. I blogged most recently about it here, and to some degree here. I decided I was tired of hating my body and that life was too short to wait for someone else’s notion of perfection before living my life.
Generally, I would say I am doing much better. A month in to the belly dance class, and I am no better at the dancing, but I am having fun. And I trust that if it took 40 some years for me to learn to hate my body, it might take more than a month to learn to love it. I’m hoping to keep with the class after the 3 month session is done.
Today I saw a video that showed up in my facebook feed.
Go watch it. I’ll wait. Oh, and grab a kleenex.
Okay, now that we’ve all seen the video….
It knocked the wind out of me. Watching those women come face to face with the sketches of themselves was so powerful. And it made me both envious of the gift of that experience, and also a little thankful no sketch artist has ever asked me to describe myself.
On a human being level, we can all be working on this–for ourselves and for each other. We can remember that in a world of beautiful women, only 4% of us think we are beautiful. Which means 96% of us could use some support and encouragement.
But as a Christian, I think our call to address this is even stronger. From a positive perspective, our understanding of a loving God who created us in the imago dei, the image of God, is a short step to help people see their own worth and beauty.
But the church is complicit in our current crisis of self-hatred too, I think. When we equate a woman’s beauty, clothing choices, or her sexual behavior with her faith, we help women hate their bodies. Women are told to be modest, and to “not ask for” rape by the clothes we wear. There are entire blogs out there dedicated to help women live the “modest” Christian life. This article, in particular, made me want to weep.
No wonder we have a crisis. If I’m told to be beautiful for Jesus, but not so beautiful that a man can’t help desiring me, where does that leave me? What a mess.
(And when I use the term “crisis”, let’s be clear that this is not a crisis that equates to children starving in Africa, or other actual crises in the world today.)
Telling people they were created imago dei is not about forcing them to fit their unique giftedness into a cookie cutter notion of what it means to be a woman (or a man, but that’s a blog post for someone else to write). It is about recognizing we are each different, and still beautiful.
I will never have the beautiful curly hair some of my friends do. Their hair will never be straight like mine.
I will never be petite. Some others will never be tall.
But our differences are our strengths. So today, at least, I will be thankful for the particular glimpse into the imago dei that I see when I look in the mirror. Hope you will too.
The Dove video makes me want to tell every woman I see how beautiful she is. I’m thankful for the people who have helped me come to terms with that in my own life. It has got me pondering how we, as the church, can respond to this as well. We call on people to love and forgive each other, when it appears we can’t even love and forgive our own selves.
You are beautiful.