I hate the term “body image.” I much prefer the term my friend (who is weeks away from being a graduate student in Marriage and Family Studies) uses: “self-compassion.” But “body image” is a fitting term for the topic of this series.
Recently, they released this doll (shown on the right below) known as Average Barbie.
The goal of average Barbie is to provide girls with a doll that has the proportions of a real person. But things like this make me sad because playing with an Average Barbie is just a Band-aid for the real issue (and I would argue that things like avoiding mirrors and never talking to little girls about their appearance are just Band-aids as well).
It hit me recently that I don’t really struggle with body image (though I played with the traditional Barbie all the time). This doesn’t mean I think I’m a model (far, far from it) or that I always really truly love the way I look. It also doesn’t mean there aren’t things about myself I wouldn’t love to change (my stick straight hair and height come to mind). It means that I’m content with my appearance and accepting of my body. I don’t spend a lot of time or thought on my appearance, but I do enjoy spending some time to look and feel nice.
I confessed this to my sister, trying to figure out what had given me this freedom in a culture that struggles so much with body image. She explained that she feels the same way. As we let this idea percolate in our minds and conversation, we came to this conclusion: our mom is the primary reason we don’t struggle with body image.
In our roles as a teacher, a mother, a friend, sister, and daughter, we want to be those who give others this freedom–who do what it takes to teach other girls to have self-compassion, to avoid eating disorders, and to love the selves (bodies and souls) God has given them in appropriate ways.
So on Thursdays, I want to explore this topic based on all of my experiences and the experiences of friends, as well. It’s not a magic formula or a simple answer. Rather I want to share things my mom has done and avoided that have helped my sister and I have a contented view of ourselves and be able to live without thinking about how we look all the time.
I think some of the things that helped us will surprise you. I hope you’ll join me on this journey, and if you have an idea for a contribution, I hope you’ll email me at pilgrimsandals (at) gmail (dot) com.