Monday, September 18, 2006

on my soap box!

I have been thinking a lot about body image and identity lately, partly because of my previous personal struggles with it but also because of all the girlie magazines you see on shelves with anorexic looking celebrities and models on the front. You don't need to buy the magazine to see as it is plastered all over the covers and in full view for all to see. Also I am very much exhausted by all of the ‘What diet works for you?” shows on TV. Basically the worlds view on how we should look and where our priorities lie, it puts unbelievable pressure on women to look a particular way. This makes me upset and cross.

There are a number of reasons why this makes me upset: Firstly, I too felt under this same pressure to be skinny, I felt the pressure from the media and then the enormous pressure we can put on ourselves. Secondly, it can be really be damaging to young girls and women, many girls buy into this and want to look like their favourite celebrity which can result in there achieving this unhealthy state by unhealthy means, but thirdly and most importantly it is so opposed to the Christian world view of how we are valued and loved by God, what really matters to him and where our identity lies.

Firstly the bible says that we are created in the image of God;

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27

The way God has made us is exactly how he wanted us – NO MISTAKES. He created us in his image – I have been thinking about writing about this for a little while and it has caused me to think through what does it mean to be created in the image of God?? I know we are created with the ability to love, to be in relationship with one another and that it is in a likeness to God. What other thoughts do people have about this??

Also God planned and knew he was going to make us and he even knew this before we were even a twinkle in our parent’s eyes. God knew and was preparing us, and them to be brought into this world since before the beginning of time - Wowsers. Psalm 139 is such a beautiful psalm and really a wonderful picture of how involved God is in each of our individual creations. We have been knitted together in our mother’s womb – we matter to God.

We do have to remember that our bodies are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and so they are not our own, we need to care for them. I think there is wisdom in watching what we eat, having a healthy diet, exercising and looking after ourselves but we also need to be looking after where we are with God too.

I guess the bottom line of what I want to say is that our identity is not wrapped up in what we look like or in what the world says we should be like (appearance and otherwise), or what other people see and think but our identity is who we are in Christ. It can be a struggle when we care so much about what people think and how I think I look, but what does God see in me, in 1 Samuel is says God doesn’t look at the same things man looks at but he looks at the heart.

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

God cares about what is inside not what is outside and he tells us that there are certain things to put to death and certain things we are to cloth ourselves in:

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Colossians 3:5-11

God loves us so much not for what we look like but for who we are inside, he wants us to put on and be clothed in all these things:

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17

We are God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, how totally amazing is that?

Anyway this is just food for thought and something that I have been thinking about over the last few weeks, there is so much more to say but I think I will leave it at that for now. I shall get off my soapbox now :)

Let me know your thoughts...


Blogger Dani said...

WOW,... I wish I could spout out the bible as you have here! It is amazing, and not only do you quote the bible but you also give your input as a woman who is feeling the pressures of our society today. I also a woman... :) understand this completely. I have had my days of modeling and when your 5'10' and they are telling to keep loosing weight and you already weigh 120. Something is wrong. Nice work, I agree, and more importantly I love how you centered your argument on the bible.
One thing I will say, in the news not too long ago one of the major modeling agencies in Spain said they are going to put a minimum BMI on their models, making them have to be in the healthy target zone... good news.

Mon Sep 18, 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger Nixter said...

Thanks for your kind words Dani and your understanding of the pressures that this world can put on people and women in particular in this area.

Glad to hear that they are bringing in a minimum BMI - that's good news, let's hope it catches on across the world.

Mon Sep 18, 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger SamR said...

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

I'm going to try and learn that verse. What a great quote from the scriptures - useful for so many applications! Thanks Nixter.

Mon Sep 18, 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Nixter said...

No worries Sam, glad you found it helpful :)

Mon Sep 18, 02:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Tracy said...

A very good reminder, Nix. It is hard to keep that perspective when there are so many messages all around measuring people by how they look and how they dress.

But don't we all know instinctively how ugly it is when people display actions and attitudes that are the opposite of the fruits of the spirit. We need to keep in mind the contrast, that beauty is seen in the display of actions and attitudes that are godly.

I really feel for teens and preteens who are so vulnerable to these messages. It is natural development for them to want to meet peer expectations. And it's hard when those expectations are so ungodly and unhealthy.

Mon Sep 18, 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Dré said...

I was at the Doctor's this morning and overheard Kerry-Anne Kennel interviewing someone who said that men like women who have a 30% smaller waist than hips! I don't think my wife's measurements fit that description, but IT DOESN'T MATTER (I'll love her regardless). But I think it is extrememly unhelpful for Kerry-Anne to put stuff like that on TV... probably with viewers who are unemployed, pregnant or raising children.

Mon Sep 18, 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger mq2 said...

hey great blog nix
i think this is an incredibly important issue for christian women to think through, but also christian men, so that they might know how to encourage us in this. so thanks nix.

another thing you said made me think...

"God loves us so much not for what we look like but for who we are inside, he wants us to put on and be clothed in all these things"

the thing that blows me out of the water is although God is pleased when we grow in godliness
what is even crazier and more wonderful is that God loved us before we even (by his spirit) were able to clothe ourselves in these things.
God loved us even when we on the inside looked dispicable and ugly.
In fact he loved us so much that he gave his very own Son for us.

I am so thankful that God is working in my life to make me like his Son, but I sure am glad that his love didn't and doesn't depend on me being this way - cause sometimes i'm pretty ugly.

Like you said - praise God my entire identity lies in who I am in Christ...

Mon Sep 18, 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

This is fantastic, Nixter! Thank you so much! This is one of my soap-boxes as well, and it has been for a long time. It's an issue I get quite passionate about, and I tend to get rather frustrated when Christians fall into this trap - guys who talk about 'hot chicks' and girls who swoon over 'buff guys' (though I have been, and still are, guilty of that at times too). I realise that there is a difference between appreciating a person's beauty and judging them on the basis of it, but I do think it's a fine line and one that we cross quite often, in thought if not in word.

Mon Sep 18, 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger CraigS said...

Let me stir the pot a bit...

I totally agree that our identity and value come from our relationship with Christ. And we must reject worldly image focus.

However, our bodies are a gift from God and we are obliged to look after them. We should eat healthily, we should eat in moderation, and we should exercise.

Self-control is a Christian virtue...

Mon Sep 18, 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger CraigS said...

Here are some relevant scriptures -
Proverbs 23:20-21, "Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags."

Proverbs 28:7, "He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father."

Proverbs 23:2, "put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony."

Mon Sep 18, 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger mq2 said...

Craig, I think your point is still in line with Nix's ideas. not stirring the pot much.

the point is our body image is not our identity.
our body image is the last thing we should "use" in an attempt to be loved by people, noticed by people.

our bodies are fading, but our relationship with God is eternal.

Mon Sep 18, 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

Yep, that's about the least stirring I've seen Craig be!

Mon Sep 18, 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Nixter said...

You love to stir the pot Craig - that's all good though, a bit of pot stirring keeps it interesting - though I don't think you are stirring the pot too much here. In my post I did suggest that their is wisdom in exercise, healthy diet, watching what we eat - so I wholeheartedly agree with you :)

Thanks for the Proverbs verses too - and yeah self control is certainly a virtue..

And... of course God has given us all things to enjoy - wine, chocolate, great 'but maybe not so healthy' foods - but all of these things are to be enjoyed in moderation - enter stage left 'self control'....

Mon Sep 18, 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger Nixter said...

That's true Mc2 that our bodies are fading - I wanted to talk about that in my post but thought this was long enough. 1 Corinthians 15 talks about the perishable bodies we have on this earth and the imperishable bodies that we will receive. Maybe that should be my soap box part 2 ;)

Mon Sep 18, 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger mq2 said...

go for it nix!

Mon Sep 18, 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Agree totally with you.
Although I must say that it wasn't until I had kids that I have felt totally comfortable in my own skin. Perhaps now people focus more on them than me :-)
Of course we should be worried more about our character than our outward appearance, however I think that it is still nice to recieve a compliment about how you look every now and again, be that from female or male friends (I think that we would be fooling ourselves if we pretended that it didn't give us a boost). Much nicer though is the compliment that highlights how one can see Jesus shining through.

Enjoy reading your blog.

Mon Sep 18, 06:56:00 PM  
Blogger RodeoClown said...

I read this today:
#3 - Take care of your body - At 26, I was 70 pounds overweight. I kept a Mountain Dew in my pulpit on Sunday mornings the 1st year! I preached against sin and never considered my own sin of gluttony. In the last 18 months I have dropped 72 pounds and I walk an hour a day without fail. It has become my time with God, a time to listen to music, or a time to listen to messages by communicators who inspire me. The church has made food its' drug of choice. That's why there's so many Christians who are overweight and don't feel that health is important. It's because as Pastors we haven't modeled the way and I was a major contributor and I needed to repent.

it was from here.

Good Post Nix.

Mon Sep 18, 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger sophg said...

I lead the year 12 girls at my church's youth group and you're right that it is a massive issue for teens. Even my girls who are almost 18 (some of them already are) massively struggle with it. Just seeing the hype around such silly things like their formal etc.

There is vanity in all our hearts, and I pray that we might see each other for who we are - in Christ or not. This is surely the most important thing.

I heard someone preach at my youth group once that girls can encourage eachother by complimenting each other on their looks. This made me feel really icky because I kept thinking - but surely we should be praising the lord for the ways we are growing in the likeness of his son, and not by the way our hair is sitting at one moment in time. Compliments are lovely, but they just encourage a focus on image and not on character. Sigh.. this is such a big issue - where to begin!

Mon Sep 18, 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger RodeoClown said...

I think that focussing on looks is bad, but ignoring them, or saying that any mention of looks is bad can actually have the opposite effect and drive people to become more focussed on their looks.

It's obvious that the media pushes a huge slut image on teenage girls, and I think that it's important that we affirm they can be beautiful without showing 98.3% of their skin off.

96% is fine.


just kidding.

87%. :P

Mon Sep 18, 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger Priscilla said...

Good post. It looks like pretty much everything has been said.

I've been struggling with this issue because I am turning 40 this year. My youth is fading. Boo hoo!

Tue Sep 19, 12:24:00 AM  
Blogger Nixter said...

Thanks for the comment Jen, I agree it is certainly nice to get a compliment and I also agree that the compliment of people seeing Jesus shining through you is of greater importance.

Glad you like my blog ;)

Tue Sep 19, 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger Nixter said...

Rodeo - thanks for that link, good to see you and Mrs Rodeo here ;)

Tue Sep 19, 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Nixter said...

Hey beautiful sophg, thanks for stopping by - I will pray for you as you lead your year 12 groups - it is such a huge issue and I pray God will give you wisdom in handling these girls struggles. I had so many things I wanted to say in this post, but as I said, maybe part 2.

Tue Sep 19, 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Boehmy said...

After all these years, I still can't believe that newspaper and magazine publications are giving us: 'The diet that will work for you'.

Every single person is unique, our bodies and what we need to do to keep them healthy. Only you can work out what is good for you.

In the end, whatever we choose for it - I believe we need to surrender our situation to Christ. Have His Lordship over it since HE owns our bodies, for they are a temple for the Spirit. (1 Corithians 6:19).

On my bay run/walk (more walk then run, lol) this morning, I was thinking that every food thought temptation, needs to be taken captive and made obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) lest we fall to the Proverbs that CraigS mentioned earlier.

This is more easily said then done, but achievable.

Tue Sep 19, 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Nixter said...

"that beauty is seen in the display of actions and attitudes that are godly"

Tracy I love this :)

Tue Sep 19, 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Boehmy said...

Rodeo Clown, that is one hell of an admission that you were 70 pounds overweight (whatever that is in kilos) and now you've lost that over 18 months.

Praise God that you were able to be honest and to act on it.

Wed Sep 20, 01:02:00 AM  
Blogger Nixter said...

Hey Tim, it wasn't Rodeo that was 70kilos overweight it was someone else - if you look you can click on the link to see who it was ;)

Wed Sep 20, 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger RodeoClown said...

It'd be about 30 kilos... but yeah, that's definitely not me.

Losing 30 kilos would probably not be too good for me. I could stand to lose 10-15 though.

Wed Sep 20, 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Sam said...

I agree with all that has been said so far and thanks so much Nixta for your godly wisdom and insight into this issue. It's great to see someone else who has battled these issues and has learnt from them. I myself have felt this pressure from men and women. Men cause we want to impress them and women cause we want to be better than them! It can be a terrible cycle of ungodliness and unhealthy obsessions that can last for years. I think alot of it comes down to security. Women often find their security in the affirmation of men or others rather than in God's unfailing love. It's hard because as Christians we know the truth and we know what we should think but the world often tells us otherwise. Partly it's because we live in a fallen world and partly because we are fallen creatures. I think any woman who struggles with these issues needs to daily wrestle with God about it and pray that he will give you the security that you crave - in Him.

Wed Sep 20, 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Nixter said...

Amen to everything Sam said - I totally agree with you Sam, thanks for those wise words.

As you said, the reality is - we are fallen and live in a fallen world and need to guard our hearts and minds in Christ...

Wed Sep 20, 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Boehmy said...

oops... many apologies rodeoclown, who was it, in my tiredness I missed it? :o/

Wed Sep 20, 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger Boehmy said...

Your comments, nicely put Sam!

Wed Sep 20, 10:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Flick said...

I like Craigs pot strirring.

Here's some of my own.

Why are Christians so scared of looking good? I think there's a culture of thinking to be godly you have to be dowdy.

I think you can be thin, be pretty and wear nice clothes and not be the spawn of satan.

Seriously God makes some people good looking - should those men or women be ashamed of that? Or not take care of their personal appearance?

I don't know what it's like to be fat or sick in the head with an eating disorder but I think its wrong if women take care of themselves while they're single then get married and let themselves go. I consider that deception.

I thought it was helpful while hearing 1 Peter 3 preached on the other month - about women not getting done up etc that Sarah was used as an example of what it's like to be a beautiful woman on the inside. The preacher made the point that Sarah was actually good looking on the outside as well - why else would a couple of kings have gone "hello" and taken her from Abraham.

Fri Sep 22, 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger Nixter said...

I mean look at Zoolander - he is seriously good looking ;)

But I agree with you Flick, I think that taking care of appearance, wearing nice clothes and makeup etc is a nice thing to be able to do. BUT when what we look like, what we wear becomes a stumbling block or all we think about, then we need to remember that our identity is not in any of that stuff - it might be part of what we do to take care of our appearance but that is it.

Thanks for the comment Flick..

Fri Sep 22, 04:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Flick said...

Yes yes even Zoolander realises that " there's more to life than being really really ridiculously good looking".


Fri Sep 22, 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger Nixter said...

Hey Flick, I was just wondering about your comment where you talked about women who get married and then "let themselves go" and that you consider that deception. There might be many things that happen to you or your spouse once married which results in changes of appearance. You might have a baby which changes your body shape, you might have a terrible accident which changes your physical appearance. All these things might happen yet in our wedding vows we say "in sickness and in health and for better or worse".

Mon Sep 25, 09:17:00 AM  

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