Last Updated on March 20, 2018

As a college student, I developed an eating disorder. I have many memories of my spiral into despair during those dark days. One of the most prominent, though, is when a friend, trying to reason with me, shook me by the shoulders and said, “You are not fat!”

My preoccupation with my weight began in early childhood. Though I was too young to express it — or even understand it — I refused to wear pants because I thought my thighs were too big. I’d been a chubby child and people said things to me like, “It’s just baby fat. You’ll grow out of it someday,” and, “You’re just heavy because of all the peanut butter you eat.” Was I truly heavy at that time? Probably not.

My concern about my weight remained throughout my childhood and adolescence. I remember being afraid to wear the eighth-grade gym uniform because it made me look fat. By the way, I was 5-feet-5-inches and weighed a whopping 103 pounds.

In graduate school, life stresses became so hard to deal with that I began to fast for long periods of time, thinking I was being spiritual. But really it was all about control. I could go on, but I’d like to fast forward to my 30s.

I finally have the curves I’ve always wanted, but I have all the other curves to go along with them. My sister says I finally look like a “real, grown-up” woman. But inside I still have this voice telling me I’m not good enough because I’m fat and my clothes are tight. And I’m not alone.

It seems almost every conversation I have with friends my age almost always swings through the weight and body issue. And worse, I know our daughters hear it and internalize it. So why do we spend so much energy and time focused on our external selves?

Everywhere we look, we see computer-cropped pictures of adolescent waifs who are made up to look like women. Or we see extremely fit women who spend hours each day with a personal trainer. And once a woman gets too thin, a doctor can plump up whichever parts aren’t big enough. Everywhere we look, we see that they need to be something else in order to be good enough.

What does God want us to be? This preoccupation with the outside self is another way to distract us from what is important. First Peter 3:4 says a woman should focus on:

… the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

God is focused on our hearts, not whether or not we can squeeze into the right pair of skinny jeans. Yes, we should take care of our bodies, as they are a gift from God. But let us spend our time focused on loving others rather than a number on a scale.

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One Comment

  1. Julia DesCarpentrie says:

    great reminder! I have to confess I still have a pair of pre-baby jeans that I will probably never get into (my oldest baby is 9- yipes!). But giving them away seems like I'm giving up hope. You reminded me that God doesn't care about my hips never shrinking. He cares about my heart and my attitude! Posted this one on my facebook page!