Beach Bodies: The Practice

Let’s begin with three startling statistics:

  • Roughly 20 million women and girls in the U.S. experience an eating disorder.
  • The rate of children under 12 being admitted to a hospital for eating disorders rose 119 percent in less than a decade.
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, with nearly 1 person dying every hour as a direct result of an eating disorder.*

These numbers—these lives—reflect a deeply spiritual issue in our culture: Americans hate our bodies.

How about you? When you look at yourself in a swimsuit, does the tone of your internal commentary ring more like the voice of your kind Father who delights in you, or more like the voice of your accusing enemy who despises you?

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Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

(Psalm 139:13-16)

Texts like this one show me just how much of an unbeliever I am. Sure, I sing about Jesus at church. My husband is a pastor, for goodness’ sake. But when it comes to my perspective on me, I look much more like an atheist than a cross-clinger.

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The Fairest of Them All

Lights flash and the crowd cheers as a once-frumpy mom prances onto the stage, hair gorgeous, makeup perfect, and clothes flattering and feminine. As petty as it may sound, I honestly love these moments. The newfound confidence just emanates from a creature who finally feels as pretty as she is.

Growing up in the church, I heard quite the assortment of beauty stances, each with its own set of verses backing it up. Some advocate no makeup at all, while others urge paying attention to every little detail. Peter and Paul seem to prefer ladies wearing potato sacks, but the godly couple in Song of Songs are major fans of pleasing aesthetics. Then add the sultry tips from the adulterous woman in Proverbs, the year-long beauty treatments Esther “endured,” and the bit about how looks are fleeting; talk about confusing!

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