The quote above, “Omnia, nos et mutamur in illis,” is brought to you straight from Caesars, Las Vegas. It translates, “All things change, and we change with them.”
Hello, my friend.
If you’re snuggling in for a few moments of quiet, hoping for some words to help you claim beauty, with confidence, for the body you’ve been given, you are in exactly the right place.
Because there is no better place to be than with someone who gets what you need. And I think I get it.
This weekend, my husband and I are reconnecting in a not-so-little town, far from home, that many of you are familiar with — Las Vegas. It’s an interesting place, to say the least. Celebrity chefs display their culinary expertise in tucked away corners of people-filled casinos, cab drivers brag about making $80,000 a year driving all day between half-mile destinations that female patrons refuse to walk in their sparkly stilettos, and more bare flesh is shared for viewing per square mile than, probably, any other place in the world.
So, as a writer about body image, you might understand my need to reevaluate what is true about my body today.
The “Arithmetic of Body Image” — it sounds a bit cold, doesn’t it? According to Merriam-Webster, synonyms for arithmetic include computation and calculation. In any given mathematical equation, if the right numbers are plugged into a formula, and the arithmetic is calculated correctly, then the right answer will appear in the solution box.
Yet, in its coldness, the title seems a completely appropriate word grouping to describe what the majority of women believe about their bodies when they look in the mirror. We use the arithmetic around us, the measuring and calculating, to slap a number on our bodies; consequently, that number plays a large part in our confidence, day in and day out.
We don’t really want to live this way. We don’t want to see ourselves as a 6 on a scale of 1-10. I don’t even think we want to compare skinny to fat, muscular to flabby, tall to stubby. But, what do we really want?
We want to measure our lives differently.
Let’s dare to throw out the old arithmetic as indicators of our value . The scale number, the trifecta waist, bust, and hip calculations, the size indicator located on the back of the pant seam, the numbers, the numbers, the numbers.
To be more objective in the way we assess our body image, to more truthfully see our bodies as Our Creator does, we are free to choose to be thankful for all of our capabilities — past, present, and future. “The Spirit searches ALL things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).
We choose to appreciate all that our bodies have been able to do in the past — first place in the Hula Hoop competition at 6th grade Field Day, the high school summer tubing trips down the river, a nauseating first trimester of pregnancy, a hard fought baby delivery, and surviving the sleepless nights…so many sleepless nights.
We choose to appreciate all that our bodies are doing presently. The present gives us opportunities to be grateful for these bodies that function in so many different capacities now — working part and full time jobs, making messy beds and sweeping crumb-filled floors, and attempting to be intimate in the few quiet minutes that the evening affords before crashing for the night.
Maybe most importantly, we choose to dream what all might be possibly left for these bodies to experience in the future. As for me, I want to be able to zipline through the rainforests of Costa Rica with dear family friends next Spring, hike El Camino in Spain with my boys in 5 years, and dance with my husband at our 25- year wedding anniversary in 8 years, not skipping a beat as we two step across the dance floor.
Attaining healthy body image has more to do with preparing your body to share in the experiences you don’t want to miss out on rather than preparing your body to squeeze into a smaller swimsuit.
The core of body image truth directs women to see their capabilities as well-earned and well-graced. Simultaneously, it challenges women to pursue change for their own personal goals.
If I’m not strong enough to hike the Rocky Mountains with my family next summer, I need to start exercising so I will be strong enough. I don’t want to miss my first-born’s smile when he reaches the summit. If I’m not enjoying the food I eat, then what fresh foods am I skipping over in the grocery that might infuse some excitement into the weekly menu? If I’m too embarrassed to wear a swimsuit to cannonball into the pool and swim with my kids, then what can I change so that I can enjoy the summer freedom of play?
This is a different way to consider how we see ourselves. It’s more about seeing our bodies how we want to see them, as temples to be used for God’s glory.
And I believe we are ready. We want to measure our lives differently. We want to prioritize our ability over our appearance. It’s about time for the change.