The other day I was talking to a friend about body image. We’re both in our 50s, and physically fit endurance athletes. But we still worry occasionally about the way we look…especially around the middle. We’re not alone in this. Sadly girls receive the, “don’t let your stomach stick out” message from a young age. This message is reinforced throughout life and leads many women (and probably some men) to being hyper critical when looking in the mirror. For some, self worth is forever linked to a negative view of self, that then drags as if it were weight chained around the ankles.
I can remember a time that I avoided mirrors and photos, not wanting a reminder of what I knew was a problem. The thing is… you don’t need a mirror to know how you look when the size 18 pants are so tight you have to work hard to button and zip them. At my heaviest I needed a different size, but refused to buy anything larger. This stubbornness probably helped in the long run.
All while I was berating myself, I was also leaning about and experiencing God’s grace. And losing weight… and gaining it back again. As a pastor I preached and shared in many conversations the message, “God loves you just the way you are. Unconditionally!” I know this and continue to preach it. Yet I still sometimes bring myself up short with the negative, “you’re so fat!”
After the conversation with my friend, I received a photo that was taken as I completed a trail run on day 2 of my Adult Running Camp. I love this photo! But I must confess that my first reaction on seeing it was, “ugh! Look at my fat stomach.”
I share this to say that I repudiate that first thought. There is a bit of a bulge there. So what! What’s also going on is that this is my first photo where both of my feet are off the ground and that is freaking awesome!
If you are reading this and you struggle I want you to know that you are precious just the way you are. I know that I am…because God loves me, my family loves me, I’m part of two awesome communities, and I’m a runner! I’m grateful.