Sunday, January 27, 2008

Love the Skin You're In

So, last night I was watching Bend it Like Beckham and found myself really wanting wanting to look like Keira Knightly because she was so thin and cute and adorable...As I was watching this and thinking this, I was eating a small dish of frozen yogurt and enjoying a cup of coffee...It was a leisurely, relaxing time with the coffee and the ice cream, but I felt bad because here I was admiring her thin bod while I consumed these calories. So, I started lifting some weights while I was reading and watching the movie. I felt conflicted. I think I look like the "curvy" Fruit of the Loom women, or at least, I'd like to think that I do. I mean, those girls are attractive and proportional, but they have rounder stomachs than the normal models. I think they're attractive women, but as I looked at Keira Knightly, I seriously felt a growing discontent with my appearance...with the presence of my "curves" (?). After the movie was over, I started trying on outfits to try to find something good to wear to church the next day. I felt so weird, so out of place. I felt so strangely shaped...too curvy...too top heavy or too bottom heavy? I couldn't really decide. Nothing seemed to look good. Nothing seemed to fit right. Everything seemed unflattering and weird. Then I wondered: isn't that just how I am? Is it like that saying "a leopard can't change its spots"? I mean, I know you should take care of yourself and seek to be healthy, but how relative is "looking healthy". Does everyone have their own special "ideal weight" and "ideal shape" and "ideal size"? My instinct is to say "yes", as I know that we're all unique and that even if two people do the same workout, they won't become twins or whatever.

Then I started thinking about the slogan: "Love the skin you're in". I can't remember what product that's for...Dove maybe? It's some beauty company. Anyway, it was striking me as more profound than necessarily intended. I mean, I should love the skin I'm in because it's what I've been given? I mean, God created me the way I am. He blessed me with the traits that i have when He "knit me together in my mother's womb" and I am "fearfully and wonderfully made". But sometimes I feel like my love for myself is skin deep...not in terms that I love my outward appearance but not my soul, rather, I love my skin and my complexion and my hair and all that, but I think I my struggle is with loving the stuff that fills my skin. Know what I'm saying? Beneath that skin there's muscle...and fat...and I have a really hard time with that sometimes. I mean, I find myself checking my stomach in the's a compulsion sometimes...I need to make sure that it's flat enough. I need to make sure that I'm proportional enough...that I'm "okay". I know it sounds silly, I really do. But it's a symptom of my lingering struggles, I guess. I mean, it's a habit from "back in the day". Your stomach is one of the last places to lose fat; so, it's a bit ridiculous to use it as my measuring stick of "okayness" or "improvement" or whatever. But it's been my was my obsession...and I remember a time when I would use a sharpie to write the word "fat" on my stomach to motivate myself to work harder. That roll....when I see a freaks me out some days...If you read the note that I posted on facebook just before writing this, it will make more sense to you.

Anyway, the concern for me is: at what point should I be content? I want to be healthy, but I feel like I have such a skewed view because in my head, I should look "healthy" as opposed to feeling or being healthy. I mean, if I lose some of these rolls, if I have a little less flab, I will look healthier, but what price should I pay for that. I mean, there have been days"Healthy" what cost? There are days when I go about things from a healthy mindset, but there are other days where I'm flirting with disaster. It's silly because I know what I'd say to other people, but why is it that I suck so badly at self care sometimes?

I guess I struggle sometimes in trying to keep it all in perspective. I mean, isn't there something in the Bible about how my body is not my own? How I'm the workmanship of my creator? How I'm fearfully and wonderfully made? That in Christ I'm a new creation? So, to be discontent with my body, aren't I like dissing God's creation? *sigh* But it's something I struggle with again and again.

I find it almost humorous how I come back to this issue time and time again, despite talking to others, despite praying on it. I mean, I talk to "my girls" about it at least once a year, but it's like the words that come out of my mouth never sink into my heart or something. I'm the exception to the rule, though I know that can't actually be why do I always think it? Why is it so hard to accept? I mean, I talked to my sister Mika last night, and she tells me that her Spanish teacher (one that I love so much!) said on the first day of class, "Mika, I can see so much Takara in your face." and Mika says she gets compared to me more than she does to any of my other sisters...that she gets told we look the most alike..and that she agrees...and she sees how much we have in common, in our activities and interests. The crazy thing is that in her eyes, in her mind, that's a compliment. She doesn't get mad or offended if someone compares her to me. She's not angry if we match. She thinks we're a good match. She looks up to me. In her eyes, I am beautiful and worth looking up to. It saddens me that I don't see that...that I feel like I need to strive to be the amazing person she thinks I am. Not that she thinks I'm perfect, but she does think I'm pretty sweet.

It's something that I'm working on all the time. It's something I think and pray about. Something I continuously struggle's crazy. But it is why I have this prayer on my closet door that I try to read when I get dressed in the morning:
"Dear Jesus,

I now put on with thanks the armor which you have provided for me -- girding myself with the belt of truth; binding up all that is vulnerable of my femininity; first my need to be pursued and fought for. Thank you for daily pursuing me and fighting for me as well.

I also gird up my desire to be irreplaceable in a grand scheme of Yours. You have placed this desire within me and I wrap Your truth around it, in hope of what You will do. Grant me eyes to see each day in light of Your activity, to live in the bigness of Your story.

I gird up my desire to offer life through my gifting, the beauty You have bestowed on me. I ask You to continue to reveal and confirm what You desire to do through me and all You have given to me. I trust that You have called me by name and have given me a love, a beauty, a gift to pour out on my family, my friends, and those You bring to me. May this day be an offering of love poured out before You on the altar of my life. Amen"

I know I'm not the only one struggling with such things. Which is why I feel okay putting this out there...and why I pray that each of us can better understand who we are and how lovely we are...that we can learn to truly love the skin we're in and all that lies beneath it.

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