My blood began boiling over this issue a few years ago, when the (supposedly) “safe for the whole family” Christian radio station in my area began advertising “Mommy Makeovers” throughout the day, every day. The ad went something like this:
“Sick of your post-baby flabby midsection? Ready to treat yourself and your body to some ‘me-time’ now that the kids are back in school? Undo the effects of pregnancy. Call Dr. So-and-so and set up your Mommy Makeover today!”
Torn up by the thought of thousands of women feeling stress and self-loathing over the way their bodies naturally change after having a baby, I wrote a letter, begging them– as a “Christian” radio station– not to put this kind of pressure on women. I implored them to place greater emphasis on the beauty of God’s wholistic design of us as women than on the world’s aims for airbrushed external perfection. I sent it straight to the ad department through a friend who works for the radio, who had the same concerns I did, and (of course) never heard back the ad department.
This week, I saw this ad in our local county magazine:
Let’s take this ad point by point, shall we?
- First, the image. Let’s not glaze over it. Thin, blonde, smokey-eyed, perfect hair, fully made-up, with fake lip color, and as far as we can tell, naked. A naked, faked woman. (And– this is the nerd in me coming out– only in English would those two words not rhyme.)
- The first message: “Earlobe repair.” Not sure why it’s starred… I’ve never ever heard of this. Maybe it’s an inexpensive way to get women in the door, so they can be introduced to (and feel more comfortable about getting) the more expensive elective surgeries?
- “LOVE YOURSELF”. Stop right there. Who among us would say that the way to love our daughter is to tell her she needs to change her physical appearance? Would any of us look at our precious tender young daughters and say, “your body needs to be altered in order to meet a one-size-fits-all standard?” I hope we wouldn’t. The way we use that word “love” matters. Loving ourselves can not mean something different than loving our daughter would mean. It is not loving to hold a woman up to an impossibly perfect standard– not our daughters, and not ourselves.
Look, let’s talk straight. I don’t know what kind of influences you’ve had in your life. I don’t know who’s told you what about the way that you look, but we all have our hang-ups in this area. We all have body image issues. Some more than others. But listen to me, and listen to me good:
Your body does not need to be ALTERED in order to be APPROVED.
Your God-given uniqueness is not comparable to a photoshopped magazine image.
You are BEAUTIFUL, right there in that normal, everyday HUMAN package.
OK, let’s keep going.
- Look at the promises the ad is making: “Look and feel more confident and youthful.“
Child of God, you precious creation, the apple of His eye, uniquely formed in God’s image, YOU ARE LOVELY.
Your confidence does not derive from whether or not you have makeup plastered on, or if your breasts are a certain size, or droopy, or big enough, or not so big. Your confidence should not come from whether or not you have some extra fluff in your mid-section after having a baby.
Your confidence should not be based on whether or not you have the natural tiredness in your eyes that comes from having young children, hips that have opened up to allow children to be born through them, or wrinkles beside your eyes that give a lovely hint of all the smiles you’ve smiled in your lifetime.
Your confidence is the unshakeable, unchanging nature of God Who is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
- Is not your fear of God your confidence? (Job 4:6)
- The Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. (Proverbs 3:26)
- We worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:3)
You know what I saw, as we lived around the world in multiple cities and continents? EVERY CULTURE, even the skinniest ones, inherently knows that women’s bodies change after having a baby. A mom should not feel an ounce of shame about looking like a mom.
And, more importantly, do you know what the Bible says about your body?
- “In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27) —> YOU ARE MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD!
- “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.” (Matthew 6:25) —> GOD CARES FOR YOU, YOU DON’T NEED TO BE ANXIOUS ABOUT YOUR BODY.
- “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” (Romans 6:12) —> OUR HEARTS SHOULD BE FOCUSED ON INTERNAL HOLINESS MORE THAN EXTERNALS.
- “All things are lawful but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but I will not be dominated by anything. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” (1 Corinthians 6:12-13) —> NOTHING SHOULD CONTROL OR DOMINATE YOU. Too many women– yes, Christian women, too– are being controlled and dominated by the idol of the perfect body. This was the case in the days of Paul, with the Roman empire as well– you can see it in their marble sculptures and the central location of the gym and colosseums. The pursuit of a perfect body is no new religion, but it is a religion that is different from one that finds contentment and joy in the Lord. Your body is not meant for sexual immorality, or for self-glory, but for the Lord.
- “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So, glorify God with your body.” Christian woman, let me PLEAD with you. If you have been lured by worldly philosophies that make you think you need to alter your body in order to be acceptable, please realign your thinking.
Let God’s Word be your guide, rather than the wishy-washy, ever-changing rules of man about external beauty. Your body is a place of worship and honor for the Holy Spirit inside of you. It is given to you as a method by which you can GLORIFY GOD!
OK, back to the ad.
It points to “YOUTHFUL”-ness as a desirable trait. Ah, the American idol of youth. And yes, like you, I look back at pictures from high school and college and “can’t believe how skinny”/beautiful/etc. we all were. Of course I see those external facts. But I also know this:
By and large, do you really remember what we were like, as teenagers? (Apologies to any teenagers reading.) I think back and remember lots of zeal and swagger– I remember being passionate about things I knew little to nothing about. I remember skads of anxiety and nerves. I remember the petty cliques and criticisms. I remember feeling that I would never measure up.
Hmmm… kind of like how the ad image above is designed to make us feel.
Here’s what the Bible says about aging, gray hair, and youth:
- “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” (Job 12:12)
- “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.” (Proverbs 20:29)
- “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” (Proverbs 16:31)
Youthfulness is an idol in America, and sadly, in the American church too. But the Bible says that with gray hair comes wisdom, and with age comes honor & splendor. Many women would rather be dead than look old, but we need to recognize that this as an unbiblical attitude.
Demis marry Ashtons, and we admiringly call them cougars and watch sitcoms about similar scenarios. Women hide the year of their birthday on Facebook so people won’t know how old they really are. Botox, tight tops from teen shops, jeggings, and “mommy makeovers” give the promise and illusion that we won’t be as old as we really are, when the truth is, these things make us look even more ridiculous. The only thing worse than a 17-year-old in jeggings is a 47-year-old in jeggings.
We’ve all seen the “plastic surgery gone wrong” photos and they make us cringe. But we need to recognize that when we toy with these notions of “mommy makeovers” and making our appearance the main thing, we are contributing to the plastic surgery culture that says that NONE OF US ARE GOOD ENOUGH.
Look at this list:
- Tummy tuck
- Breast augmentation/lift
- Breast reduction
- Post Weight-Loss Surgery
- Mommy Makeover Packages
- and then they top it off with: “Financing available”
Not only do they want to wreck your soul & make you believe that you aren’t good enough— that you have to change your body in order to be acceptable and desirable and have confidence– (there is no unsurgeried part of your body that they will leave uncriticized)– but they will help you get in debt over it too! Yippee-skippy!
Christian woman, the ads and doctors would have you look at your body as the defining characteristic that gives you value, but God looks at the heart.
Yes, there are seasons when we need to use exercise or food to be good stewards of the bodies He has given us, but REJECT THE CULTURAL MESSAGE that you should loathe the fact that your body has changed.
God is interested in the changes of your HEART.
Surgery images courtesy of VictorHabbick and Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos