I’m wondering if there’s anyone else out there who has a love/hate relationship with shopping.
I love looking cute and finding great clothes on sale, but this comes at a high price for me. Going shopping and dealing with the number on the inside of the clothing label most often sends me into what we will call a “body image tizzy.” This tizzy usually consists of rapid heart beating, sweat, anxiety and tears as the clothes cling to the wrong areas and the size label reminds me I no longer have that girlish figure of my teen years. (Did I ever have that anyway in my teens? I digress). When bathing suit season rolls around the stress intensifies; I’m on high alert for the potential tizzy as I pick through suits and cover-ups...thank goodness for darling bathing suit cover-ups!
What would be really nice is if my favorite stores would consider me and my body image issues and do me a favor by putting up more “skinny mirrors” with the flattering tilt of the mirrored glass and lighting from above that accentuates rather than calls attention to my problem areas. But, none the less, most stores only have the “not-so-skinny mirrors” and I must face the probable body image tizzy head on with much prayer and Truth.
If you deal with body image issues, most likely you have a trigger that sends you into various forms of the tizzy. Some of us might not have a hard time with shopping like I do. Maybe your trigger is flipping through the latest fashion magazine and comparing yourself to the air-brushed super models. Or, maybe your trigger is when you hang out with friends who seemingly have the perfect body. The first way to conquer our body image woes is to pin down what situations or circumstances threaten our peace and tranquility about our bodies. Here’s the deal though. We can’t avoid all life situations that might trigger anxiety about our body. We can’t hide away and never go shopping or never pick up a magazine, that’s not realistic. But, we can arm ourselves before going into those triggering situations.
The last time I went shopping I was in a time crunch and had no emotional or physical energy to deal with the potential body image tizzy. I decided to buck it up, go in, try on a bathing suit and get out of there as fast as I could, hopefully unscathed. Because the Lord has been teaching me how the power of His Word conquers hard things in life, I decided that I must arm myself before going into the dressing room by literally rehearse Truth. As I was slipping on the bathing suit ––averting my eyes to my trouble spots, I repeated over and over and over a verse from Psalm 139 until I stepped out of the store and got in my car.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14 ESV)
My mind was so wrapped around that Scripture that there was no room for harmful, body-bashing thoughts. God’s Word is like a balm of protection over our vulnerable hearts. It is also a hefty sword to use in the battle of body image. Along with Psalm 139:14, are a few of my favorite Scriptures that I keep in mind especially when headed out on a shopping trip.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4 ESV)
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! (Psalm 139:7-8 ESV)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10 ESV)
Covered In Prayer
Scripture is a beautiful covering of protection, and coupled with prayer, it arms us to take on the not-so-fun parts of life, like body image issues. For me, prayer reminds me of what’s really important. I’m reconnecting with the One who makes my world right. By conversing with Jesus before I go shopping, He shows me that the number on the size label doesn’t really matter. I come into a sense of worth when He reminds me that what’s really important at the end of the day is not dictated by what I see physically in the mirror but rather what He sees in my heart. I can only come to this peace about my body if I check in constantly with my Wonderful Maker through prayer and reading the Bible.
Some people might think I’m being overdramatic with all of this talk about the need for prayer and Truth before I shop. However, I know that the body image tizzy is a very real and heart breaking reality for many women. If this is something you struggle with, know that you are not alone. Know that you are probably your biggest critic and the One who made you finds you stunningly beautiful. If this is hard to believe, I encourage you to chat about it with the Lord. Talk to Him about why you don’t place His view of you as beautiful above all else. With these lines of communication open and Scripture flowing through our mind, we can live life with the abundance promised and not allow our body image to consume us.
Sarah Martin loves encouraging young adult women to LIVE OUT! the Kingship of Christ in everyday life. She is the author of the book Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties In A Decade Of Drama. Read more from Sarah at LIVE IT OUT! blog.