Shan bam is a great photographer, an so when graduation was coming around during our senior year of college, some of us got together to petition her to take some artsy fartsy pictures of us.
Fast forward a year and a half, and the pics never made it into the hands of the other girls. I am guilty of letting things go WAY past what they should sometimes.
So today, she sent them to me, in all of their college ending glory.
My first reaction should have been how much I missed those girls in the photos. Back then we were a bunch of silly college girls having fun, now we are a nurse, a PA in training, a youth minister, an accountant, and a biologist. It is incredibly surprising how much life can change with a few bars of Pomp and Circumstance.
My first reaction was actually how fat I look in those pictures. I have lost 20lbs and counting since graduation, but thats not my biggest victory.
I repeat: that is not my biggest victory.
With a body that completely does what it wants when it comes to weight because of medical issues how could I possibly gauge my success on weight loss?
But there were times when I have.
I’ve had some big victories over this year and a half since graduation. I moved out (kind of) on my own, passed my real estate sales person licensing exam, survived my first year teaching, and that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the things God has done through me during this year and a half of youth ministry.
But when I saw those pictures it was easy to think that I am nothing. Not pretty, not worthy of other people’s time, boring.
I told Shan that it will take some serious Universal Mortification to not take those pictures down. It would take a lot of dying to myself to keep pictures up of me that make me seem worthless and ugly to the world.
But then I reminded myself of something.
I love my body. One thing I did right in high school was to make a decision to love my body. I wanted to combat being labeled as the “fat” girl in my own mind so I decided to just love my body instead. That decision has stuck with me through the years and is even more true today. Not because I have lost 20lbs but because I see my body as good and beautiful. So if one of those girls would have stopped the whole “photo shoot” that day and flat out asked me if I loved my body I would have said,
So why now that my body looks different do I have the right to dislike it? Its still the same body. I cannot compromise the love I have for my body at any stage because of what the world is telling me about it.
Pope Saint John Paul II talked about how the truth of who I am and what I am made for is written on my body. He talked about the complementarity of men and women and how that is written on our bodies. I think it is safe to say that there is another truth written on my body: I have never in my short 23 years of life ever see someone who looks exactly like me. I look sort of like my mom and sort of like my dad and sort of like my brother, but no one in this world is an exact copy of me.
Why then do I sometimes hold myself to the standard that I see in magazines?
I have never actually seen someone’s body morph into the exact resemblance of another’s in real life. I believe they make TV shows about such things, but I’ve never really seen it happen.
No matter what I do, I will literally NEVER look like the girl on the cover of the latest magazine.
I can try to make my waist the same circumference as her’s, I can try to dye my hair the same color as her’s I can even try plastic surgery, but I still wont ever look exactly like her.
That goes the same for when I envy my beautiful friends, coworkers or acquaintances.
In order to look exactly like someone I envy, I would have to get rid of me. I would have to change my body.
But I love my body.
I am not saying that I should not take the necessary steps to be healthy, because I absolutely should.
I am saying that trying to look like someone else is impossible, and I should put all the energy it takes to try to look like someone else into accepting that this is who I am, this is how I was built, and I love me.