Let's Talk About Body Image

An Instagram Caption from June 4th:

Can we talk about body image for a sec?

In my twenty-three years, I’ve spent more time hating my body than loving it. I’ve blamed it for just about every bad or inconvenient thing that I could. I’ve said things to it and about it that I would never dare admit out loud. Our culture has taught me that to be at war with my body is normal. I’ve believed the messages saying that, as a woman, I’m not allowed to love my double-digit size or be confident with my wide hips. I’ve believed that it’s normal, acceptable, expected, for me to hate my body. I’ve taken that to be a nonnegotiable part of this life. But finally, today, I’m calling bullshit.

If you know me, you know that body image is something that I’ve come to be extremely passionate about. I’ve done both formal and informal research and presentations on the topic of female body image. I’ve read books, followed instagram accounts, written stories and papers, and spent an insane amount of time dissecting my own body image issues. But, I’ve never talked about it on social media. I’ve silently accepted the fact that this is a place to cultivate comparison and continue the war started with my body over fifteen years ago. But I’m not gonna let that be true anymore.

 

After over a year of being neck deep in the conversation on body image, I’m choosing to bring all I’ve learned closer to home. I’m choosing to have the hard internal conversations, to ask myself hard questions, to pray, to try to heal my relationship with my body. It’s uncomfortable, it’s hard, it’s probably the least fun thing I’ve done in counseling— but it’s necessary. So, here’s to continuing the conversation on body image even when it’s uncomfortable. Here’s to healing my relationship with my body, with food, my size, and anything else found broken along the way. I believe that it’s possible to love myself just the way I am, to take care of my body without punishing it, to fight the messages the media throws at me. It’s a fight, for sure, but it’s one I’m ready for. It’s one I’m choosing to believe is worth it.

This is likely the first of about a million posts on this topic, so get ready. Ya girl has a lot to say.

Some fears I had about posting that caption:

  1. No one will understand what I’m talking about or why I posted it.

  2. People will think I only care about body image because I’m fat.

  3. People will notice that I am fat.

  4. No one would like it or comment on it or care.

  5. What I have to say doesn’t matter.

  6. People would judge me.

  7. I’d regret it; that I’d heard the Holy Spirit wrong.

  8. People would think it was self serving; that I was looking for affirmation or compliemtns

  9. The focus would be on me hating my body, me not taking care of my body, me me me

  10. People would only think that I care about body image because I’m fat.

  11. People would laugh at me for thinking what I have to say mattered.

What actually happened when I posted that caption:

  1. All of my FAVORITE women in the world commented on it and cheered me on.

  2. It got a lot of likes for my insta as of late.

  3. No one commented and told me that I was beautiful/ had nothing to worry about.

  4. Women empathized.

  5. People told me to start a podcast / Kaitlin invited me to co-host the podcast she was already planning on starting. (Stay tuned.)

  6. People told me that they cared about what I had to say, that they wanted to hear what I had to say.

  7. God confirmed again and again that He was the One who told me to post it.

  8. Women told me that they were learning the same lessons that I am.

  9. It got people thinking about body image in a way they never have before.

  10. I saw women come around me to support me and love me.

I don’t know what my future posts on body image will be like. I know that I have more to say, but I don’t know how I’ll say it. I don’t know if I’m going to become “the body image lady” like I’m avoided for so long. I don’t know if I’ll start more of a thing than I ever intended to. I really, really just don’t know.

But what I do know is this: God has given me a voice and a passion for something that needs to be talked about. He has build within me a knowledge of female body image and a personal story that thousands of other women can identify with. He’s given me the courage to speak out, to share, to be more open about this topic than I ever imagined that I would. God has guided me this far, and I am sure he will guide me moving forward.

I am starting a public conversation on body image. I am terrified. I am encouraged. I am, above all else, confident that it is something God has designed.

May His name, His power, His goodness be glorified as He leads me in all of this.

Ashton Ray