Laura Ketchie is a Christian therapist, former group exercise instructor and mom. As a teen, she struggled with restricted eating and excessive exercise habits. She has seen both sides of the struggle: counseled those with self-image issues/taught group exercise, and has experienced the issues herself. Over time she has overcome these unhealthy habits, but is saddened by our culture’s glorification of “even thinner”.
Before and after pictures bother me. Yes, I mean those photos of someone who “lost twenty pounds through this program” pictures. Why? Every time I look at a “before” picture, I see someone loved by God. Every time I see an “after” picture, I see someone loved by God. But for some reason, we are supposed to celebrate the “after” picture. That’s sad to me.
Get this: Before and After pictures are only popular because we make them so. They are a reflection of what our culture clamors for. They place a premium on what could be rather than what is. I’ve become astutely attuned to this lately. I have seen more “before” pictures that make it difficult to understand why there would be an “after.” In other words, I’m seeing fit people in “before” shots pushing for even fitter “afters.” It all seems too difficult to attain and maintain. It sends a message of “you’re not enough. See this photo of a girl who wears a size two? Well, now she’s a 00.”
Embrace Your God-Given Body
That’s why I’m so excited about what’s happening counter-culture. People are embracing their God-given bodies for what they are. More and more people in fashion and exercise culture are tossing aside the illusion of perfection and are promoting health. That means that we celebrate each day, not “the day when I weigh this or the day when I can fit that.” This diversion from pop culture mentality allows us the freedom to be grateful for the bodies we have and have a gratitude mentality. It is hard to have an attitude of gratitude when you are striving for illusion. Punishing yourself for what you look like now does not foster a heart of gratitude for what you have been blessed with.
Don’t misunderstand me: I get self-image issues. I’ve been there. All the wasted time on pushing myself to extremes to be someone I’m not. I get it. It’s taken time through my own struggles with comparing myself to others that has taught me that I was designed intentionally different, just like you were. The Maker did not make a mistake. We are mistaken when we try to force ourselves into a mold that looks like everyone else. We are not valuing the differences God created in us. We are ungrateful when we fail to recognize how He made us each unique.
Ouch… The point here is not to shame. I just hang on to the hope that others can experience the freedom of letting go of this need to strive for an illusion of perfection. We have plenty of nay-sayers in this world. We all need more encouragement. I am blessed to have this forum to do so. Join me in loving yourself and others today by stepping outside of yourself and considering how a loving God sees you. It’s hard to be negative when you look at yourself that way!