Hello friends & my gorgeous readers. Have I told you that recently? That you’re gorgeous? – because you most certainly are, beautiful ones. It’s been a funny few weeks for me (well, funny being difficult and miserable and totally BLAH), and today I had to face up to something that I’d been putting off in my head for a fair bit. I’ve made the odd comment on here and the light joke about putting on a bit of weight and all that jazz, eating too much, etc. And to be honest with you, it really has happened – I’m not doing the girl thing and getting all uptight because I can’t fit into a pair of jeans anymore. I had to buy new jeans today, and I haven’t had to do that for a long long time. See, the thing is, my weight has always been something I’ve struggled with. The biggest size any of my friends have been is a 14 and once I got to the stage where I could fit into a 14 I felt like I reached the ultimate goal in my life, to be a happier and better and more attractive size.
So now I’m a size 14, guys will find me attractive right? The fact I can fit into clothes from Jack Wills and Hollister surely means I’ve reached it right? Now I can be beautiful. Now, because I’ve met these standards, I can be attractive and wanted and loved – men will want me now that I am slimmer. I was a size 18 for almost a year or so I reckon, gradually just getting bigger and bigger. I feared stepping into Topshop because I felt like as soon as I walked in there all of the women in there would judge me and spite me because I was that much bigger, you know, because my thighs didn’t have a gap and because my boobs were just too big for that t-shirt style that everyone seems to be going mad for. I learned pretty quickly that my body was different to those around me and instead of rejoicing in this, instead of being proud of what I looked like and celebrate that, I did what all of the media, some of my friends, the apparent looks and judgements from the ladies in Topshop, and even some absent-minded comments from family members all told me to do, and I looked at myself in the worst way possible. I was made wrong. Well, there must have been something wrong with me if no boy wanted to go out with me, and if I was late for a class I ran down the corridor and my bum decided to do that little jiggly shake as I did so, then there must be something that wasn’t right about Annie.
Thankfully, it was halfway through this stage that I met Jesus – and he started to peel back these layers of feeling wrong and fat and ugly and only worth the attentions thrown at me from the guys that I spent my time with. So what if they only went for the girls who were slimmer than me and were definitely nowhere near the bum jiggle down the corridors?! It doesn’t make them more beautiful than me or vice versa – I am a daughter of the King, and it is Him who tells me what I am. Tells us what we are – and we are beautiful.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Sorry.
In Genesis, it tells us that we are made in God’s image. In Psalm 139 (I know, you’re thinking ‘here we go again’) it tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. In all of the gospels, we read that Jesus died and rose again for us, because he loves us. And in Revelation, we are told that God will wipe away every tear and hurt from our eyes. My point? I’m getting there, I promise.
God loves me. Quite simple really. God just loves me. He made me, he looks at me and smiles. He loves me. He rejoices with me and he sings over me. He loves me. Have you got it yet?
It doesn’t matter what size you are. It doesn’t matter how big or how small you are. I’m writing this from the size 18 perspective (yep, that’s right, I said it out loud – I am a size 18 again, and guess what? It’s totally okay), but I know some of you might read this and you’ll be chillaxing in your size 6 and you’ll be looking at the pictures of these women and thinking why the hell do I not look like that? Well, guess what? You’re beautiful too. The thing is, if we believe the things about God that we’re told (and I mean the good things, the true things – not the whole ‘God hates you if you do this’, come on church, why are we not changing this hideous stereotype? That’s another blog post, but STILL.), that he is honest and he is true and he does not lie to us – then surely, we have to believe the things he says about us. It must mean that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, we are made in the image of God. He will heal you through this time of bad body image and an empty self esteem. If he’s doing it for me over and over again, through Lent, and through standing in the Primark changing rooms today wondering why I let myself get ‘so big’ again, then He can flipping well do it for you too.
So anyway, here it is: I stood there today, in the changing room and stared at myself in the mirror. It was one of those moments when you feel like the world is crashing in on you because realisation has set in – I am a size 18, AGAIN. I let myself go, AGAIN. The old feelings came flooding back; the feelings of being glared at in shops and even in the changing rooms for PE lessons; the feelings and sometimes actions of being sick and starving myself and not eating properly. The memories of a Slim Fast diet and making myself ill because of it, and the feeling of satisfaction and finally feeling beautiful when I fitted into those smaller, more ‘appropriate’ jeans, and then I felt like a ‘proper woman’. I’m not writing this and saying that a proper woman has curves and a nice set of lady bumps (I can’t believe I just wrote that), a real woman is a woman who might not be necessarily comfortable in her own skin, but a woman who is working on it – regardless of her dress size. And as a Christian woman, I want to be a pioneer of this kind of mindset because it’s heartbreaking seeing people who I believe to be God’s children suffocating themselves in the lies of the media and the shoddy opinions of those around them who think that they aren’t beautiful.
I remember for Lent and for the series I wrote about being makeupless, I talked a lot about God helping me to feel beautiful and look beautiful. The only trouble with this bit is that I struggled to see the beauty below face level. I’d look in the mirror and wonder if the beauty stopped after my neck ended, but the truth is, I’m beautiful all the way down and back up again. I believe those wonderful words up there from Corinthians – that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. My body is not mine, but God’s. My body belongs to the loving Father I have who created me and put me together, who has a plan for me and knows me and loves me – there, I said it again – and doesn’t care I’m a size 18 (there, I said THAT again, too). So, whether you knew it or not, or whether you choose to believe it for whatever reason, YOU are a temple of the Holy Spirit. Did you know that? Your body, with all of those wobbly bits (as the lovely Bridget Jones says) that you don’t like and those stretch marks and those jiggly bum corridor moments that you can’t even bring yourself to think about, that body deserves respect and it deserves to be looked after. Regardless of your faith background, your body is something that should be respected. The old adage of ‘you can’t be loved by someone else if you don’t love yourself’ is totally true here – and obviously my ethos on this goes further than the realm of relationships, but how can someone find you attractive if you don’t find yourself gorgeous to look at? I get it, it’s a process and sometimes its flipping DIFFICULT. But YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, whether you know it, believe it, see it or acknowledge it. You ARE. Your body is a gift, okay?
I think this post has been one of those crazy Christian lady posts, so if you’ve made it this far, then thank you for bearing with me. I believe that Jesus got on that cross for me and He took away the sin in my life and made me whole again – and I believe that He loves me more than anybody else ever will or has before, and I believe that He does rejoice with me with those fresh mercies each day and He still loves me now that I’m a size 18 again. I believe that my body is not my own, but God’s – a gift from him, and this gift – this body, is a temple. And that is something that deserves respect.
Peace and blessings x