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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

If I said you had a beautiful body.....

If I said you had a beautiful body......some of you would sing the next line in the song, "would you hold it against me," but the majority of my women readers would snicker and laugh at the thought that their body could ever be beautiful.

Body image. It's the greatest of all struggles for most, if not all, American women. We are inundated by images of airbrushed, anorexic models with impossible plastic surgery enhancements. They assault our senses from the magazine stands in the checkout line, billboards on the highway, and the television shows on every network. Women, often under pressure from the men in their lives, believe that their value is found in looking like these models. This has led to a deadly epidemic of eating disorders and other dysfunctional behavior.

Recently browsing in the dollar bins at a local bookstore, I picked up a book filled with beautiful women - not the swimsuit model variety, but ordinary, everyday women. The book was a collection of these women's poignant stories of their journey to find peace in their own imperfect skin. Each woman was tastefully photographed in black and white alongside her story. The women were a cross section of America - old, middle aged, young, skinny, fat, wrinkled, even a breast cancer survivor. As I read the stories, I was awed by the sheer beauty encapsulated in those pages. I saw that real beauty is not the computer enhanced, plastic surgery repaired women on the front covers of magazines. Real beauty is found in a grandmother's winkled, gnarled hands - proof of a long life, lived well. Real beauty is found in the young mom's huge scar from her emergency C-section - a proud war wound in the battle to deliver a first child. Real beauty is large and small, light and dark. Real beauty is seeing yourself and the women around you as a unique and special part of God's creation.

On my way out, I walked past the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and shook my head. The woman on the cover did not compare in beauty to the stories I had just read and the pictures I had just seen. Fake and airbrushed, she did not hold a candle to the real beauty I had witnessed. I was saddened that our society has been satisfied with so little for so long. We have bought into the terrible lie that beauty is a tan, skinny Barbie like figure.

I would encourage my readers to notice and appreciate the beautiful women in your life today. Compliment them, encourage them, and love them. Begin with the beautiful woman in your mirror.

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