As women, we are constantly pressured by social media, billboards, and even relationships to look a certain way. We know that our identity is found in Christ, but it doesn’t make the mirror any more forgiving. It’s hard to remind ourselves of truth when we can’t turn on the TV or drive down the street without being bombarded by lies of what we “need” to make ourselves beautiful.
Unfortunately, what happens is we slowly begin to replace the word “beautiful” in our minds with “valued.” We start to accept the lie that we aren’t worth anything unless we conform to our culture’s plastic view of womanhood.
We have to stop—for our sake, and for the sake of our daughters.
Here are ten common lies women believe about their bodies—and the truth God wants us to know.
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1. We must compete with other women in order to keep our men.
Ladies—if you’re dating a man who encourages competition among you and your friends, get away from him. If you’re married, seek counseling. There should be no jealousy in the church. I know it’s hard to gaze around the congregation and compare yourself to other women. But it doesn’t matter whether you think they have bouncier hair or longer legs. You bring your own gifts to the table, and those are gifts your man should appreciate. We must crush jealousy at its root and remember what Paul pointed out in Romans 12:4-6A:
“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…”
You have your gifts and talents, and your neighbor has hers. Both are needed. If your man is easily swayed because your friend has perfect hair or is a few pounds lighter, there are bigger issues there and you don’t need him. Don’t believe the lie that you have to compete—and win—to keep a godly man at your side.
2. We can't have cellulite.
Ladies, we have cellulite. You do. Your mom does. Your co-worker does. Even swimsuit models do—they just get to cover theirs up with makeup or airbrushing. Please don’t think those little dimples on your thighs and stomach are unique to you, or something to be ashamed of.
Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
Cellulite happens. It will continue to happen—and it’s okay. Accept your body the way the Lord made it—He made us to have imperfect skin. His works are wonderful, and that includes your body’s "flaws."
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3. Your natural skin color isn't beautiful.
For centuries in Western culture, women with dark skin have been treated as less beautiful and valuable than women with light skin. What God created as a unique facet of His image, the world deemed less than. As a white woman, I cannot begin to speak to that specific pain or pretend to understand.
I can, however, speak to a harmful phrase that has greatly affected me: “tan fat is prettier than pale fat.” I’ve even been guilty of saying it myself. When I was younger, society around me taught that beauty meant tan skin and prescribed tanning beds as a way to achieve it. Being tan meant you could cover your freckles and cellulite and other normal, common blemishes.
This solution was all the rage as a teenager. Unfortunately, I fell for the lie and jumped on the bandwagon—then had to have a piece of melanoma cut off my thigh when I was in my mid-20’s. Today, I have the scar to remind me that society changes and cultural norms shift, but at the end of the day, it’s what God thinks of me that matters.
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4. If it's too small—enlarge it.
In today’s culture, big breasts are where it’s at. For smaller-chested females, there’s an enormous amount of pressure to wear padded bras for a bigger silhouette. The pressure is so intense, we’re even willing to undergo surgery and implant silicone into our bodies to look a certain way in our underwear or swimsuits. But Matthew has a solid warning in Matthew 23:27:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.”
This isn’t to say that everyone who has implants is inwardly ugly. Of course not. But it does serve as a reminder to focus more on our inward beauty than our bra size. Don’t give in to peer pressure—seek the Lord and His will for you on these sensitive subjects.
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5. If it’s too big—shrink it.
In today’s culture, we’re obsessed with weight loss and fat loss. If it’s too big, we think we need to shrink it—even to the detriment of our health. We’ll try crazy fad diets and avoid carbs until we’re weak and sick, or overdo it at the gym on the cardio machines just to reach a certain size. Luke 16:15 reminds us,“And he said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.””
Being thin is exalted among man—but the Lord is obviously more concerned with our ability to be good stewards of the bodies He gave us than our sex appeal. Don’t get me wrong—I work out regularly and am frequently challenging myself. But the end goal isn’t a number on the scale or a number on the tag of my jeans. The goal is health, stress relief, and strength. Focus on bringing God glory with the conduct of your bodies, instead of obsessing over shrinking it.
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6. Wrinkles aren’t acceptable.
Our culture is disgusted with aging. Think about how many ads for face cream you see on a regular basis. Laugh lines and crows’ feet are allegedly “reduced” with Cream X or Cream Y. Not only are these claims usually false, but they’re temporary at best. You can’t stop the aging process—and why would you want to? Growing older is a gift of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”
We’re growing older, and we can’t stop that from happening. We are slowly wasting away. But for believers, that just means we’re one day closer to sanctification and eternity with God! When you think of it that way, are you really that worried about a few wrinkles? Those wrinkles are testament to a life that was spent smiling, laughing and living. There’s nothing more beautiful than that.
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7. Only particular sizes are considered attractive.
I think this lie is one of the loudest, and the most ridiculous. I have friends who are all different sizes. Some are short and curvy, other are tall and thin. Some are short and athletic, others are tall and “big-boned.” None of them are unattractive. 1 Samuel 16:7 reads, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
The people who care about you aren’t zeroed in on your flaws—they’re noticing your bright eyes and kind smile and the Holy Spirit shining through you. You are beautiful in Christ, whether you’re a size 2, size 20, or anywhere in between or above.
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8. We have to wear makeup every day.
Society tells us that we can’t even go to the gym or to Saturday brunch without a full face of makeup applied. Genuine and flawed isn’t often applauded by the world, but it’s the banner cry of the church. You don’t have to hide all your blemishes or have even-toned skin 24/7, sister.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The good works God has prepared for you don’t have to happen with a full face on.
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9. We must live up to an impossible standard set by an airbrushed industry.
There are a lot of men out there who expect their women to maintain an impossible standard set by an illusion. These men are most likely not followers of Christ. Sister, pornography is real, but it’s steeped in illusion. If your man has been caught in its snare, it bears zero reflection on you. It means he needs to address a sin issue in his heart.
Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”Fear the Lord, friend. Charm and beauty is fleeting, temporary, and most often, an illusion in itself. You don’t have to live up those fake standards. You live up to the Lord’s.
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10. We must dress immodestly to attract attention.
You’ve probably heard the saying “if you’ve got it, flaunt it”—but I can’t think of a more dangerous motto for a Christian woman. If you’re often struggling against competing and comparing yourself, why would you dress in a manner that would give that same insecurity to your sister, or cause your brother to stumble?
1 Peter 3:3-4says it best:“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.”
This doesn’t mean we can’t fix our hair for church or snag a great dress on sale—but it does mean those tasks shouldn’t be our focus. Our priorities should always be directed inward. Then our outward self naturally shines with the love of Christ. There’s no face cream or makeup line that can beat that!
Act on these truths:
If these lies are a repeat struggle for you, it might be time to fast from worldly food. I’m not talking about a diet—rather, avoiding the avenues that let the lies in. Get off social media. Start spending less time with the people in your life who make you feel bad about yourself or who prompt you toward unrealistic perfection. Delete Instagram from your phone for a set amount of time. Unfollow the people on Facebook you’re jealous of.
Take action steps to guard your heart—and then fill those gaps with the Word of God.
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of fourteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her newlywed hubby, two story-telling young daughters, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. When she's not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. Look for her latest novel with HarperCollins, LOVE ARRIVES IN PIECES, and POCKET PRAYERS FOR FRIENDS with Max Lucado. Visit her at http://www.betsystamant.com./
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Originally published Friday, 01 February 2019.