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Why Do We Struggle With Body Image?

Written by Karesse Warren on

Your alarm goes off at 7 a.m. You roll out of bed, drag yourself to the bathroom, and look in the mirror. Staring at your reflection, thoughts start pouring in: “Why does my skin break out like this? I’m a grown woman.” “I’m so glad no one sees me without makeup.” “I shouldn’t have eaten that ice cream last night. Ugh, look at the pudge on my stomach.” “Wow, my smile is awful. I’ve got to whiten my teeth tonight.”

This internal narrative continues as you choose an outfit. Your favorite jeans don’t fit, and you find yourself looking at your thighs (again), feeling discouraged about your poor workout habits. Relentless thoughts of dislike or wishing for something else bombard your mind. It’s as though you woke up wearing glasses with broken lenses that skew how you see yourself.

Whether we realize it or not, we all begin the day with our minds swimming in lies regarding our bodies. Lies that say we are not enough and that we don’t measure up to the standard of beauty around us. These lies wrongly shape how we view ourselves. The lens we use to see our bodies is shattered.

Why Am I Like This?

1. The Work of the Enemy

Our lens first shattered when sin entered the world. Genesis 3 details how the Enemy, in his clever and crafty way, cast doubts into Eve’s mind—doubts about what God said about his creation. Eve embraced those doubts as truth, and the battle with sin began.

This same Enemy continues to feed us doubts and lies. And many of these lies are directed towards our bodies. God created our bodies, as he did all parts of us, to be a reflection of himself. Our bodies are where the Spirit dwells and the believer can experience God’s presence. Even the Devil knows that God calls our bodies good, and yet he wants nothing more than for us to doubt God’s good creation, hating the physical body we’ve been given. Far too often, we willingly embrace the lies of the Evil One.

2. Our Own Sin

But it is not just the Enemy at work. We contribute to this broken lens as well. Reflect on your own life for a moment: How do you talk about your body? Do you compare it to others? Do you treat it harshly and abuse it? Do you find yourself judging other bodies to feel better about your own? Do you constantly wish for something other than the body God gave you? Each sinful struggle you face adds a crushing blow, marking your broken lens with yet another jagged edge.

3. The Brokenness of the World

Our shattered lens is also affected by the broken world we live in. Health issues, disabilities, abuse, infertility—each of these impact how we feel about our bodies. These broken realities shatter our already-broken lens.

The world also surrounds us with false messages regarding our bodies. These never-ending messages tell us that, to be of any value or any worth, we must live up to a specific standard of beauty. And yet this standard is unattainable and ever changing. Culture says “Want to be beautiful? Obsess over the number on the scale. Use the newest products and follow the latest trends. Don’t leave the house without the perfect outfit.”

The false standards peddled on social media also influence our lens.  Social media’s filtered lies tell us that beauty is flawless, toned, and sexual. It tells us that to obtain any type of worth we must fit a certain mold. And, sadly, we often embrace these filtered and unrealistic lies.

What Now?

Why do we need to understand that our own lens is broken and shattered? Because the way we view our bodies matters. God is a good creator. He called our bodies good, and his desire is for us to see them as good as well.

So, how do we do that? Start by acknowledging the doubts, lies, comparisons, and desire for perfection for what it is—a lens shattered by the Enemy, your own sin, and the brokenness of the world. As you look in the mirror each morning, start identifying and naming the falsehoods that pour into your mind.

In the next article of this series, we will look at how God views our bodies and how to live in light of that.

If you are struggling with body image or an eating disorder, College Park Soul Care is available to support and come alongside you with biblical counseling.

Karesse Warren

Karesse is a member at College Park Church. She is passionate about getting to be a part of people’s stories and getting to see God work in others’ lives. Karesse enjoys spending time with her husband, her family, and her closest friends.

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