Female Body Hatred; WWJS

The before and after picture…the sagging skin under her chin has disappeared..the television spokesman promises the transformation in less than an hour.  Be honest. Have you ever been tempted?

The before and after picture…the sagging skin under her chin has disappeared..the television spokesman promises the transformation in less than an hour.  Be honest. Have you ever been tempted?

I must admit I'd love to wake up missing that flapping flesh under my chin that just won't tighten up no matter how many neck extensions I do. But going under the knife…I don't think so. Maybe you are too young for skin under your chin to stretch and sag. Do you think you might be tempted when it does? Millions of women let a surgeon cut on them to enhance their appearance, and some are believers. It's expensive. It can be dangerous. Why do they do it?

Too many of God's girls obsess about their bodies. Many don't go to the extreme of allowing someone to cut them, but many, I might say, most perform the ritual of body hatred in front of the mirror every morning. Instead of Bible study, they are at the spa or gym. And I'm not talking about staying fit and eating nutritious food. I just returned from working out at the Y and I feel great. I'm talking about women who live like they are their bodies; for them, life can become a body project.

I do understand. I remember those morning rituals of body hatred. From the time I was a teenager into my forties, I looked at pictures of myself with the critical eye of my eighth grade English teacher who failed us for missing any part of diagramming a sentence. No partial credit with Mrs. Kramer. I didn't give myself partial body credit either. Too much here; too little there. Ugly, Ugly, Ugly. I look back on those pictures now, and think, hey, you looked pretty darn good. Now that I'm past looking or caring, I regret those silly years of body hatred. What a waste!

I wonder how we can help women overcome these negative and painful obsessions? Should we burn all the Barbies? What part do men play in this fixation? Is there a believers' body theology that we've missed? What would it include? Why don't we teach it as essential to discipleship curriculum for women today?

Female Body Hatred? What would Jesus say? I think he would tell us to enjoy the body he has given us and to stop comparing our bodies with taller, shorter, well, you know, different people. He would tell us to practice self care, and that includes healthy habits so we can serve him with energy and stamina. But he would also tell us not to neglect our spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and social health. Jesus grieves when we forget who we are and the price he paid for the possibilities we sometimes squander because we are consumed with stuff that doesn't  matter for eternity.

He would command those of us still caught in the clutches of the body beast to stab that beast in the eye and break free. OK, a little dramatic, but you get the point. So tomorrow morning when you look in the mirror, stop the morning ritual of body hatred. Instead focus on the real project, an inner one, and remember that one day God will give us new perfect bodies. Even that flabby flesh under our chins will disappear. Oh, happy day! But for now, I'd love to hear your thoughts on how to help women stop hating their bodies.


Dr. Edwards is Assistant Professor of Christian Education (Specialization: Women's Studies) at Dallas Theological Seminary and holds degrees from Trinity University, DTS, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is the author of New Doors in Ministry to Women, A Fresh Model for Transforming Your Church, Campus, or Mission Field and Women's Retreats, A Creative Planning Guide. She has 30 years experience in Bible teaching, directing women's ministry, retreat and conference speaking, training teams and teachers, and writing curriculum. Married to David for 34 years, she especially enjoys extended family gatherings and romping with her four grandchildren.