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A Christian Perspective on Body Image

Vivian Bricker

Contributing Writer
Published: Jun 21, 2022
A Christian Perspective on Body Image

In 21st-century America, the beauty standards being imposed upon men and women are unobtainable and unrealistic. At these times, it is vital that we understand a Christian perspective on body image in order to help ourselves, help others, and bring glory to God.

In modern-day society, much emphasis is placed on one’s appearance or body image (their perception of their physical appearance). Oftentimes, according to the teachings of the world, it can seem as if a person’s worth is based on their appearance. In 21st-century America, the beauty standards being imposed upon men and women are unobtainable and unrealistic. At these times, it is vital that we understand a Christian perspective on body image in order to help ourselves, help others, and bring glory to God.

Feeling Pain

I have personally struggled with body image ever since I was thirteen years old. It is common to start struggling with body image in your teens, and it can continue through the adult years until you address the issue. It is important for all people to have a healthy body image. Having a healthy body image means you are comfortable and happy in your body and feel good about your appearance. Having a bad body image causes you to feel bad about your body and forces you to feel self-conscious about your appearance. 

It is not healthy to have a bad body image because it affects your entire attitude toward yourself, and it can cause you to develop both physical and mental illnesses. Due to my bad body image and depression, I developed anorexia, and over the years, my body image continued to deteriorate. I want to help others develop and cultivate positive body image in order to help protect them from having a bad view of themselves and from developing eating disorders, depression, or anxiety. 

In order to cultivate a positive body image, one has to learn what God says about them. Over the years, I have learned that it is important for us not to care so much about what other people think about us or even obsess over what we think about ourselves. Instead of basing our body image on what others think or what we want, we need to base our body image on what God knows. 

You Are Made in God’s Image

The Bible tells us that we are all made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Since we are all made in God’s image, we are beautiful. No matter what we look like, our physical makeup is founded in God’s image. The Bible also tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13-14). 

From this passage of Scripture, we know that we are wonderfully made by God. God doesn’t make mistakes and that includes when He created every single human being—including you. Every person in the world is fearfully and wonderfully made by God. When we base our body image on what God says rather than what the world says, we will have a better body image of ourselves. 

Beauty Standards

The beauty standards imposed on women and men in America today are unreasonable. In the same way, the beauty standards of today are different from what they were fifty or a hundred years ago. Beauty standards change and vary depending on where you are and what time you are living. In our present-day Western culture, the beauty standards for women are for us to be thin, yet in some African countries, such as Mauritania, thin women are not seen as beautiful and they are encouraged to gain weight. In Mauritania, curvier and full-figured women are deemed beautiful. 

Therefore, it is not good to base our body image on what the culture says is “beautiful.” Beauty norms within cultures are constantly changing and have the sin of self, pride, and ego involved—after all, we live in an imperfect, sinful body. It is best for us to base our body image on God’s Word and to turn to His truth whenever we feel bad about ourselves. You are wonderful and beautiful just the way God made you. You don't have to conform to beauty standards or ideals that are constantly changing and ever-created by the culture. 

Another example of why we should not base our body image on changing beauty standards is because even here in America, the ideal body image of today was not so around fifty or sixty years ago. During the era of Marilyn Monroe, throughout the 1950s and 1960s, she was seen as the most beautiful woman, though in the present day, she would be classified as “overweight” or “too curvy.” As one can see, beauty standards are constantly changing, and it is best not to base self-worth upon them. 

Cultivate a Healthier Body Image

Developing and cultivating a better body image will take work, but it is worth it. I’ve personally been trying to cultivate a better body image, and it’s no easy task. The main thing that has helped me is by reading what God says about us as humans, reflecting on those truths, and believing them. Oftentimes, my thoughts downward spiral into a dark abyss, but I can always rely on God to pull me out. It can be very troubling at times to go out in public and see other people because most often, I feel my body image deteriorate since I don’t look like the woman I pass on the street, or I will deem myself ugly because I don’t look like such-in-such. 

Maybe you have suffered the same feelings as I do. The important concept we have to remember is that God didn’t create us all to look the same. We all have different hair colors, eye colors, and skin colors, and they are all beautiful. I remember as a child I always wanted to have red hair and green eyes, yet I have always had brown hair and brown eyes. In the same way, I always wanted to be tall, yet I’m short. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I actually started to like my brown hair and brown eyes, and I didn’t mind not being tall because this is the way God created me. 

Often, it can seem like it is easier to accept these differences rather than different body types. It can be hard when you see celebrities, models, and even everyday people on the street looking a certain way and you don’t. Personally, it bothers me, but these are the times that we need to dissociate from our negative thoughts and return back to the truth of what God says about us. A healthy body image will only come by reading, meditating, and believing what God says about you. It is also important to learn to be kind to yourself and not base your worth on your appearance. A person’s worth is much more than their reflection in a mirror. Our bodies are the least interesting thing about us. Our interests, our memories, our conversations, our love, and our joy make up the people we are. 

Therefore, body image is a tough subject to bring up because often we think of body image as being “prideful” or “selfish” within Christian circles. Having a healthy body image is not prideful, selfish, or vain. God wants you to have a healthy body image of yourself. However, we should not become overly prideful of our body image or obsessed with our body image. Extremely hating our body image or extremely idolizing our body image are two extremes that we need to avoid. We can have a healthy body image by reading the Word, applying what it says, and believing it. God never lies to us, and we can believe Him when He tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made. 

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Liudmila Chernetska

Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.