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A Wife Begins to Find Healing for Her Insecurities about Body Image

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For our precious sisters in Christ who don’t yet know their beauty and worth and who are struggling, may God heal your heart and mind and flood your soul with His peace, joy and truth!

FROM THE WIFE WHO ASKED, “HOW COULD A HUSBAND LOVE HIS WIFE, AND BE VISUALLY ATTRACTED TO OTHER WOMEN?”

Wow. This has been quite a discussion, and very helpful. I’ve been reading the comments throughout the day, and thinking about them all day long. I think the comment that was most helpful to me was from Thomas:

Attraction is more like when your leg jerks up after the doctor hits your knee with the little, rubber hammer. It’s more of a reflex. It just “happens.” After it happens, then we choose what to do about it. Do we pursue it? Do we ignore it? Do we embrace it? Do we remind ourselves of the fact that we have already chosen a person to love “forsaking all others?”Scripture tells us that when a man lusts after a woman he has already committed adultery in his heart. In other words, the attraction happened, and then he made the wrong choice about what to do with that attraction.” (Note from Peacefulwife – you can find the rest of Thomas’ very insightful quote on this post along with many other helpful comments.)

I think I can honestly say, I never understood this before. I’ve never heard it explained this way. I guess I thought attraction WAS lust. Or else why would the man look again? Yes, I see handsome men and pretty women but I guess I don’t focus on them that way – or on judging people by their attractiveness? But I do judge myself – incredibly harshly. I have never been confident and it is an area I need to work on.

In fact, I was driving my husband insane. If I saw him notice a brunette – I’d ask “should I dye my hair brown?” The next week we’d pass a redhead. Then I was sure he wanted me to be a redhead. If our waitress had on tight jeans and an ample rear end – I was sure he wanted me to get butt implants.

Finally one day he snapped and said, “Why can’t you realize that I love YOU? That I want YOU? And I want you to be YOU? Not try to change to be someone else?”

Was this loving? I guess so, but I have so many insecurities.

Not to get all “psychology” on you – but I think a good bit of it stems from my teen years. I have an older sister who told me how fat and ugly I was every. single. day. I admired her so much! Why would she lie? Now – looking back – I was neither fat nor ugly. I was a straight A student, a varsity cheerleader, and a springboard diver – and yet I was sure I was worthless.

My friends would get so mad whenever I would complain about how fat and ugly I was, and how lucky they were to not have to be like me. I honestly didn’t understand why they were so cruel, and they would get mad that I would say those things – instead of supporting me. My first serious boyfriend in high school told me I was lucky to have him, and I shouldn’t try to have any other boyfriends because he was the only one who would ever want me.

I thought I had let go of these cruel things that people would say, but I guess they left some scars. Now that I’m a Christian, and somewhat more mature, I can see that my sister (whom I love – and I pray for her salvation) was most likely jealous. I was taller, blonde (she’s brunette), blue eyes (hers are a beautiful hazel), and far more athletic. The boyfriend was probably trying to control me and keep me from breaking up with him.

But somewhere, deep inside, I think I still feel the sting of those comments – and to this day I do not believe I am beautiful – which in a way is sad – because it upsets my husband. He thinks if he thinks I’m beautiful then I should believe him. I’m trying, and I appreciate prayers in this area.

I can also see that I need to give my husband more credit. I’ve been awfully hard on him. He is very loving, and patient, and we are working on my issues. Thank you all for your love and support. I am praying for you all as well.

Special thanks to April, thejoyfilledwife, and the men who shared their input. Sometimes it is helpful to hear the opinion of men with whom we have no emotional ties or baggage.

FROM THEJOYFILLEDWIFE:

What you say makes so much sense. Did you know that the strongholds we have as adults were almost always developed in our childhood years? Particularly when we were quite young. That’s why they are so hard to break…because those lies and destructive thoughts were cultivated and nurtured during our most impressionable years. In many ways, we may be so used to them that they are, in a strange way, a type of comfort to us. We are so used to believing the lie that it can be extremely difficult to break them. Good thing we serve a God who is capable of breaking even the most powerful strongholds in our lives.

Just to illustrate how influential our childhood experiences are in the way we think about ourselves as adults, I’ll share something from my own life.

I grew up being very “awkward” up until I was about 16. When you’re 10 years old, being tall and thin is not the desirable trait that it is when you’re an adult. Kids (and even adults and family members) can be so cruel.

When I was 5 years old, a family member tried to strangle me to death. Against all physical odds (they were obviously a lot taller and stronger than I was), the Lord allowed me to break free right before I lost consciousness. Although the Lord saved me from death, the lie I began to believe was that my life was of no value.

Growing up, I was constantly told by peers and friends of my siblings that I was ugly. For my birthday, a family member gave me the movie “The Ugly Duckling” and said they “thought it would help”. One friend of my sister told me that no one would ever love me because of how ugly I was. That crushed me so much that I attempted suicide at the age of 11.

When I was physically inches away from death, I felt something pry open my hand, allowing the knife to fall out, as a voice spoke to my heart and said, “I love you. I’m not finished with you yet.” That day I vowed to never let the thought of suicide cross my mind again. If the Lord loved me enough and thought I was valuable enough to save, I would dedicate the rest of my life to him. And I have.

Because of the lies I believed growing up, once I was about 16 and men started noticing me, I had a hard time comprehending it. Men would walk by me and say, “Wow! You are so beautiful.” and I would look behind me, thinking they were talking to someone else. Once I realized they were serious, I eventually started using it to attract attention to myself. I never believed it personally, though, and it caused so much insecurity for much of my life.

Christian author and speaker, Beth Moore, had a book out called “So Long, Insecurity” and it helped me so much. As my walk with the Lord grew, I started to look at myself and see the beauty I had inside, which made me see that the Lord made every part of me – including the external – just the way He loved it. He thinks I’m beautiful. Seeing ourselves through God’s eyes helps us to overcome the insecurity that comes from seeing ourselves through the lies and opinions of others.

We are here with you on this journey, dear sister!

FROM AN ANONYMOUS WIFE:

I’m not sure if this will help or not, but I used to disagree with my husband when he told me I was beautiful and sexy. I looked in the mirror and I didn’t see a supermodel, so I just couldn’t agree. But then when I realized that by my dismissing his comments as wrong, I was calling him a liar and telling him he had bad taste. How disrespectful is that?

After I stopped arguing with him and just accepted those things as truth, I started to believe them. I still don’t look like a super-model, but I am beautiful. I am God’s daughter, “fearfully and wonderfully made”.

Have you ever read “Who Calls Me Beautiful?” by Regina Franklin. It’s a pretty good book about this subject.

FROM NIKKA:

I can totally relate with you, sister! 🙂

When I was in one of those pity parties that I usually had before the Lord convicted me of my sins, I would rant and rant to my husband how ugly I felt and looked, how fat I was, how this, how that… and I would go on and on with my “Envy List” of women asking him:

  • “Honey, do you find so-and-so sexy?” or
  • “Do you think you would be happy being married to so-and-so?” or
  • “Do you LOVE that woman on the billboard?!?”

And he would always be aghast and look so distraught because of all my insecure ramblings…

And I would go, “I am just saying all this because I feel so ugly/fat/unattractive…”

And he would say, looking extremely INSULTED and not just a tad IRRITATED:

“Nikka, do you think I would have married you or made love to you, if I found you SO repulsive and ugly?!?!? What does that say of me?!? I didn’t marry you for your looks alone, but for sure, I found/find you attractive, that’s why I married you…. But what you are doing pairing me with this and that woman or telling me I would be happier if so and so was my wife, now THIS is not attractive at all.”

Thanks for sharing your heart, sister. 🙂 Maybe it’s time to accept the fact that you are BEAUTIFUL, because you are a child of God, and made in His Image, and He made no mistakes with you. 🙂

Since my conviction, I have already become less and less self-conscious and more and more accepting of my husband’s generous appreciation. When he says, “Hi cutie.” or “Hi sexy.”, I give him my widest smile and blush just a bit. Ha! 🙂
<3 ,

FROM THE ORIGINAL WIFE WHO ASKED THE QUESTIONS:

I wanted to point out that this discussion (and others) has been incredibly helpful. If I have tried sharing in the past (with a friend other than my husband) people usually say something like, “Oh stop! You’re very pretty.” or “Get over yourself.” or “God made everyone beautiful.” While the last statement is true, none of those comments is particularly helpful. They’re more like clichés.

So all of the discussion, the comments from others, the sharing of stories and struggles, the male viewpoint, and especially the true sisterhood, are literally a Godsend! This is a slow process for me, I feel like my eyes are just starting to peek open, but we are moving in the right direction here. My husband told me this morning that he loves me more every day. He has always been very loving and patient, but I think our growing bond is because of the change in my attitude – and God’s goodness of course.

Thank you all for taking this walk with me!

RELATED:

A Husband’s Pain – His Wife’s Body Image Issues

One Couple Deals with the Issue of Body Image

55 thoughts on “A Wife Begins to Find Healing for Her Insecurities about Body Image

  1. I suppose that is one of the reasons I strive so hard to be godly and as perfect as I possibly can be because I will never be beautiful. God chose to misshape me in the womb, why I’m not sure. To bring him glory I suppose. So my behavior must overcome my appearance. I wish I could be beautiful in the world’s standards, but not until I get to heaven. Of course I won’t care then! I do not ask my husband if he thinks I am beautiful. He never says it, so it would be like fishing for a compliment. What is he supposed to say? I can’t even remember if he told me that when we were dating, but that was nearly 30 years ago so my memory just isn’t very good. My husband does not gawk at other women, so I don’t have that battle. I’ve just tried to concentrate on this verse:

    Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4. I keep myself neat and dress as well as I can, but my face will never be beautiful. My body used to be, but as I approach 50 the inevitable time of age and having 3 children has taken its toll. I try to eat correctly and exercise. But 50 will never be 20. Things sag, metabolism changes.

    So hopefully, the inside of me is beautiful because that is the only thing I can truly improve.

    1. Elizabeth,

      As someone born with an obvious limb deformity (not the PC word, I know, but it is the truth), I have wrestled with the why and the struggle to feel beautiful and I can completely relate to your post. I have come to the place where I have accepted that this is who God wants me to be and though I don’t know why, I know that He has a purpose.

      But, as you point out, if our definition of beauty lines up with God’s, then we can be secure in Him regardless of anyone else’s opinion of our looks.

    2. Elizabeth,

      Your comment went straight to my heart. I am 57 and have also had three children. I too grew up thinking I was homely compared to my two older very beautiful sisters. They had tiny waists and wore circle skirts and crisp white shirtwaists that made them look like princesses. They were also beautiful inside, and I love them very much to this day. However, I was tall and awkward as a child, had straight hair, a long face, and and was painfully shy. I never believed I was beautiful at all, until my deceased husband’s love finally convinced me. Then I realized that I had a different kind of beauty, and that I didn’t have to look like my sisters to qualify. I’ve grown to appreciate the gifts God has given me, and one of them is the gift of loving others, of listening to them and extending hospitality. I also love to write, a gift I’ve always recognized but undervalued because everyone else in my family was musically talented, and I felt deficient because my gift was different. With age and a deeper relationship with God, I’ve realized how wrong my misconceptions were.

      I too, have experienced the changes that come with age, but instead of expecting myself to have exactly the same kind of body and beauty that I did in the past, I’ve come to embrace what I am now, and dress to accentuate my most positive features now. I think the single thing that makes a woman the most beautiful physically, besides a quiet and mild spirit of one who loves God, is self-confidence is who she is, and the knowledge that she has valuable gifts with which to love others and make the world a better place.

      So I would encourage you, Elizabeth, to let the knowledge of God’s love and whatever your gifts are give you confidence in yourself. Maya Angelou, a great poet who died just last month, wrote a poem celebrating her own unusual beauty called “Phenomenal Woman.” She wasn’t a classic beauty in any sense yet was beloved by many because she had a gift for sensing the human condition and expressing it eloquently in writing that many could identify with, especially women who didn’t realize their own worth. I know from reading your past comments that one of your gifts is a steadfast, unwavering spirit of loyalty for your husband, and that alone should make you realize you ARE a beautiful woman with many priceless qualities. Why not smile, celebrate your unique qualities as a daughter of our loving God, my sister, and let your love shine out to the world! People will look at you in a new way, and you’ll be so much more at peace within yourself. Remember that you are also a beloved part of our world-wide sisterhood, and that we love you and want to support you in searching for and seeing your own unique beauty. Sending you a BIG hug!

      The other Elizabeth 🙂

      1. The other Elizabeth,

        This is so beautiful!!!!! Thank you for sharing with Elizabeth and the other wives who have talked about struggling with physical deformities or feeling that they are not physically beautiful.

        What a powerful and inspiring message! I hope you might allow me to share this in a post, please!!

        I have mild scoliosis myself and a number of health issues and a rather unwomanly figure that I believed made me “not a real woman” or “not beautiful” in the eyes if the world when I was a teenager.

        One day, our English teacher asked us to go around the room and name something we didn’t like about our bodies. Eventually, it was the turn for a girl who was one of the most beautiful girls in our large high school to share what she didn’t like about her body. She was a cheerleader and strikingly beautiful. I couldn’t imagine what she could possibly find wrong with her body. Then she said, “my neck is too long.” She was super self conscious about it. I looked at her and saw beauty. She looked and focused on her perceived flaw. But wasn’t that what I was doing, too?

        My mom told me she never thought any man would be interested in her. And she was shocked when my Daddy loved her and found her to be beautiful. I adopted that same attitude, “no guy could be attracted to me because of X, Y and Z.” I truly believed that it was impossible for guys to be attracted to me and was oblivious many times when guys are interested because I had my mind set that “guys can’t like me.”

        Thankfully, Greg saw beauty in me even though I don’t have a model’s figure. I know that I will never be a swimsuit model or meet the world’s standards. I am totally fine with that. Now, I am completely confident in my femininity and beauty – and my greatest desire is to have the inner beauty God finds so valuable. Even women who may have a physical handicap or issue with weight or deformity can be so beautiful in God’s sight because He deeply values our character and spiritual growth. Outer beauty is going to fade for all of us as time goes on, and there will always be things about our bodies that are “imperfect” in this world. But the inner beauty of a godly spirit grows in beauty over time and can cause us to radiate with the love of God. To me, that is the greatest beauty there is.

        How I pray that we might each focus on the gifts God has given to us, our unique abilities, the things that are good about our physical bodies and that we might learn to see ourselves through God’s eyes. He is most concerned with our hearts. We are ALL able to allow Him to form Christ in us and we are all able, by His Spirit working in us, to have the rare, supernatural, glorious beauty of God blazing in our hearts and pouring out to everyone around us.

        1. April:

          I have observed that most women find themselves less attractive than they are.

          For most of my life, I have been negative on myself. So maybe I can relate.

          Here’s what I do. If I think I’m doing bad in a certain area, I add some “positive” to my opinion. In other words, I adjust my opinion up a little, to compensate for the negativity. By doing so, I believe I get an accurate end result just about all of the time.

          If a woman thinks that she is unattractive, she should adjust up a bit. By doing so, she will probably have an accurate opinion of herself just about all of the time.

          One final thought: Outer beauty will go a little ways, but inner beauty will go the distance. When we are both old and feeble (my future wife and I), what do you think will count then? Inner beauty, of course.

          Jim

        2. April,

          Of course you may use my comment if you think it could help others. I so enjoyed reading about your English teacher’s awareness activity! What a powerful lesson and eye opener about personal perspectives and how they can be SO different. One of the top learning objectives for English teachers is developing their students’ ability to think critically, usually within the context of literature, but literature is life, and this was a real life lesson!

          I think another reason many women may have problems with self-image is because many of us are “recovering perfectionists.” We’ve been taught both overtly and implicitly that we have to be the best! At least I was. While being detail oriented is good in so many areas of life, it can also result in extreme personal dissatisfaction with anything less than perfection–usually defined by cultural or familial standards. I remember my older sister being set on only ONE PROPER WAY to apply lipstick, and not allowing me to apply it in any other way.

          April, the “rare, supernatural, glorious beauty of God” IS blazing in you and pouring out to everyone around you. We are so grateful we have this forum where we can open our hearts, give and receive insight, comfort, and encouragement, and enjoy wonderful fellowship. This is one of the best posts and comments I’ve read yet. Again, thank you! I agree with you that this is a HUGE topic than needs and deserves a lot more attention, so more posts and more discussion would be wonderful.

          1. Elizabeth,
            Yes, that day we shared vulnerably about our own insecurities about our bodies was most memorable for me.

            I agree that we as women do sometimes fall into perfectionism. I did in many areas. It is such a prison!!! I am so glad to know that in Christ, we are fully loved, accepted, forgiven, made new and precious in the sight of God and that we can’t earn His love or approval, that He did everything that was required for us to have peace with Him and to have His peace and spiritual treasures in our lives.

            That is my prayer, that God might pour through me to reach and touch and heal people with His. Spirit’s power for His glory!!!

      2. To the two Elizabeths,

        WOW! Just WOW! This is beautiful! Your posts encouraged this sister!

        Lord, may we ALL realize and be convicted that you have made EACH one of us in YOUR image, and that we are ALL beautiful in YOUR sight. Lets be assured that as our first husband, you love us and pursue us, just the way we are. You have endowed us with specific traits, some which the world would despise, but IN YOU and with YOU, we can bring YOU glory.

        1. Senterwife,

          Thank you for your comment. I have so enjoyed getting to know you through your comments, and have been so encouraged by them! Much love to you!

    3. Elizabeth,

      Sweet sister, the grass is not always greener on the other side.

      Please know that God truly did make you beautiful. The challenge is that you are judging your beauty based off of the worldly definition, but that is not where God stands and nor should we. We are to be in the world, but not of it, and to not conform ourselves to the patterns of this world…to the world’s way of thinking and judging. If we are believers, then we look to Christ to define what we should be believing and how we should be viewing ourselves and others. To look to the world to set the standard is to make the world our Lord. It’s to idolize the world’s opinion and to strive to please it. That’s slavery, and Christ came to set the captives free. Let us remember that there is One who defines truthfully and that is our Lord and Savior. May we look to Him and Him alone for the standard, sister.

      Since you brought up your desire to meet a worldly criteria of beauty, I think this would be a fitting place for me to bring up something that I have shared with my husband is a real struggle of mine. As I said in my comments a couple of posts ago, I sincerely hope that you are able to see that my heart is not prideful but filled with humility when I share this. I put myself out here, not so I can say “look at me” but so those who feel the way you do about beauty can know what challenges there are on the other side of this issue.

      Meeting the world’s definition of beautiful sounds great, doesn’t? The grass is truly not always greener on the other side.

      My husband and I are business owners and a majority of our work is meeting face-to-face with people. We also do quite a bit of speaking, motivating, and mentoring within our industry.

      When you’re a woman and are considered physically desirable by the world’s standards, it can be very frustrating trying to try and have substantial discussions with men in general, even if your husband is right next to you or nearby.

      Recently I was sharing some very valuable insights with a gentleman candidate who came up to us to ask questions, and he kept looking me up and down the entire time I was talking. I was not dressed immodestly at all, but he spent the entire conversation distractedly staring at my face and every inch of my body. I so badly wanted to stop in the middle of my sentence and say, “Are you even hearing anything I’m saying?!” When you have something important to say, it can be very discouraging when others won’t look past your appearance to hear the valuable insights you have to offer. You feel like they’re missing your heart.

      The same is true with women for me, but in a different way. You see, women have this tendency to judge other women and try and avoid them if they think they’re very attractive and/or have a nice figure. This is ESPECIALLY true when their husband or boyfriend is with them. I know this because I experienced some of those feelings once I found out about my husband’s pornography addiction. I felt like, if I could keep every attractive female out of view, I could somehow help him not become tempted. But there are three flaws with this theory: 1. My husband’s definition of attractive was a lot more broad than mine and women that I would think weren’t even a visual temptation for him, I would see him bounce his eyes away from. 2. It’s wrong to judge someone else because of their God-given appearance. 3. This is trying to control, instead of praying and asking the Lord to protect minds and hearts.

      I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t had the easiest time making friends with women over the years. In many ways, writing has been refreshing for me because it allows people to see my heart, instead of making assumptions based on appearance. I find that many women try and avoid me. I lost count over the years how many women have told me, “When I first saw you, I didn’t want to get to know you because I thought you were probably stuck-up because of how you look. When I got to watch you from afar and hear how warm and encouraging you were to others, I realized that you weren’t stuck up at all.”

      You see, it can be so hard to show people the beauty you have inside when they feel threatened by you just because of how you look. It can be frustrating when people won’t give you a chance and make assumptions about you based off of appearance alone. Attractiveness seems attractive, but the challenge is trying to get people to see past judgements about your outer beauty long enough to see the much more valuable beauty you have inside. I have to work so much harder, whether in business or casually, to show women that I’m not a threat and men that I’m not just a pretty face. It can feel very discouraging when you have to work so much harder to create relationships and spend most of your time trying to prove to everyone that there’s more to you than your appearance, that you’re a woman of substance, and that you’re not out to steal anyone’s man.

      I share this with you because I hope to help you see that God made each of us to look exactly the way he wanted us for His purposes. You see, although many times I feel frustrated that I have to work so hard to get people to see who I am inside, I recognize that the Lord is using that to cause me to be proactive in reaching out to others and show them the light of Christ.

      God longs to use all of our seeming “shortcomings” to bring Him glory, that in our weaknesses He can display His strength more powerfully. He longs to grow us so that we can reach others for the Kingdom. Paul in the Bible was so famous for his observation that our sufferings, trials, pain, and shortcomings are matters to actually rejoice over because they allow the mighty hand of God to be displayed more clearly than ever.

      I love you, dear sister. You are who Jesus says you are and so very deeply loved. <3

      1. Thank you for sharing this. So true and so encouraging!!

        If I may, I would like to add that meeting the world’s standard of attractiveness can feel like a trap if you don’t have a relationship with Christ. For one thing, when people are always giving you what you want or tell you what you want to hear because of this “gift”, it is easy to rely on that…..and as time marches on and you see/feel that power slipping away with your youthful looks, you start to panic….and get desperate to get it back. You find yourself spending far too much time, money, and effort on this battle you cannot win. If you never developed that inner beauty that comes from an ongoing, growing relationship with Christ, that empty spot inside will grow and your frustrations will take over, making people avoid you….which feeds the loneliness and emptiness and the empty spot and frustrations grow even bigger. It’s a never-ending cycle….and you become more and more miserable….until you allow Christ to fill that empty spot.

        Thank you for sharing your struggle with trying to limit the opportunities for your husband to stumble by trying to limit his exposure to attractive women. I have been there and that is also a never-ending battle that only leaves you frustrated and miserable. When I finally realized that God IS in control of everything, including my husband. There was relief. I only recently discovered this and wish I had discovered it years ago.

        This blog is such a blessing!

        1. NW Girl,
          Oh the world’s standard of beauty is very easily a trap, even if we have a relationship with Christ. If we are not careful, we begin to measure ourselves by the world’s standards and the world’s values instead of God’s. We can get ourselves in so much trouble that way.

          I have heard a number of women share this same thing, that they learned to use and savor the power of being beautiful in the world’s eyes and then became desperate to try to keep it as they got older and how hard it was to deal with the fact that eventually, men stopped looking and their power began to slip away.

          How I thank God that in Christ, real beauty is available to all of us… The inner beauty of a heart totally devoted to Him and filled with His supernatural love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I am so thankful that God is willing and able to give any of us who trust Him a beauty that only grows more beautiful and powerful and brilliant as time goes on.

          This is very insightful. Thank you so much for sharing!

        2. NW Girl,

          My favorite parts of “The Wife of Noble Character” in Proverbs 31 are “She can laugh at the days to come” and “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

          I think we display wisdom when we can laugh at the days to come. When our skin is sagging and the wrinkles abound…when our bodies are decorated with stretch marks, how beautiful it is to be able to laugh and say, “Clearly I’ve lived a full life! I’m proud of my battle wounds!”

      2. Both Elizabeths and thejoyfilledwife,
        What a healing discussion this is. I love it! I wonder if y’all might allow me to share your comments in a post. This is such a big issue for so many women, we may need to spend a bit more time on it so that we can look at our bodies in a God-honoring, husband-honoring, self-honoring way.

        Something else we haven’t touched in much yet is how much our daughters will emulate our body image and what a crucial example we set for them in deciding on their own body image as we talk about our bodies.

        And, we have mentioned this in previous posts, but, if a husband truly believes his wife is beautiful, and she refuses to believe him or receive his compliments, that hurts him so much.

        To hear a husband’s heart on this issue, check out this post.

        1. Oh but my daughter is absolutely beautiful, flawless. I struggle with being jealous of her at times. I do not talk about my body, so I don’t think anything is caught. However, we were once at a doctor’s office and they saw an ad for babies with defects like mine. They were horrified and appalled. ( It was an ad to contribute to fix them.) I started crying and told them that is what I looked like as a baby. I couldn’t believe how horrified they were. I was 5 again with all of the children circling around me and making fun of me.. I thought I had raised them better.

          It is just hard. I don’t understand why he allows any defects like this. He is God. He is all powerful. He could have prevented mine and everyone else’s defect.. Hard to understand sometimes.

          1. Elizabeth,

            I am so so sorry to hear the pain you have endured.

            I don ‘t know if you have ever heard David Vujicic’s story? I featured him a few weeks ago in the post about comparing ourselves to others.

            He is a man who was born without arms or legs to a pastor NAND his wife in Australia. He wrestled with “Why? Why didn’t You give me arms and legs, God?”

            He found the answer. And I would love for you to read his story.

            I can’t seem to get the link to work. But you can search David Vujicic Life Without Limbs. There is an 8 minute video from CBN that I would love for you to watch. Please let me know what. God speaks to you if you get a chance.

            Much love to you!
            April

          2. Yes, I’ve seen him before. I’m still not sure he answers the question why.

            I guess what exacerbates the problem is when your husband doesn’t want to be “intimate” with you. It is hard not to feel unattractive.

          3. Elizabeth,
            In the video I mentioned, he DOES answer the reason why. “for God’s glory.” That is why he is the way he is. Now, he is an evangelist and pastor and thousands of people can hear his message in a much more powerful way exactly because of his deformity. He can touch the hearts of teenagers that no one else can reach. His joy is infectious. His love for life and for Jesus is all the more powerful because of his weaknesses. He said he knows now that God allowed this to happen so that many might come to Christ and that all the pain was worth it and that he wouldn’t take arms or legs if it were possible for him to.

            In heaven, when we are not in a cursed world that has been altered by sin, we will all have perfect, glorious bodies. My prayer is that you can rest in God’s sovereignty and that you might discover how He wants to use your weaknesses for His greatest glory.

            Much love!
            April

          4. Elizabeth,

            I am so sorry that your husband is not as interested in intimacy as you would like. That can be so painful.

            I am praying for healing for you both and for your marriage. Am I remembering correctly that your husband is working 70+ hours per week and is extremely stressed about some issues at work? If I am remembering that correctly, he may be exhausted. Have things gotten any better for his hours and his job?

            He is your relationship with Christ going?

            Much love,
            April

        2. Oh April, you are so right on with noticing that the next important place to take this conversation is to consider the impact our self-image has on our daughters. I’m sure our body image impacts sons too, but I can only speak to that regarding my brother, since I only have daughters.

          My mother has been very overweight since I can remember. I’ve seen pictures of her before she had kids and she looked very, very different. As she gained weight, she stopped trying to take care of herself in every capacity and she would even turn down gifts my dad would give her. I know that hurt him very much.

          My mother has a truly loving heart inside and she is one of the strongest women I know. I admire her so much for her strength during trials. The challenge I faced growing up, however, was that, even though she didn’t outright complain about her appearance, whenever she would be trying to describe someone she was talking about to us who was overweight, she would ALWAYS say, “That lady…who was big like me.” Without fail, she would say, “big like me.” Although she wasn’t saying much, it really doesn’t take much for girls to read into comments and adopt self-condemnation from their parent. My oldest sister has struggled with weight most of her teenage and adult life and I could see my mom’s insecurity coming out by the comments she would make to my sister about her weight. She projected a lot of her own insecurities onto my sister and would tell her that she needs to stop eating this or that and lose weight because she’s too heavy. I’m a big proponent for eating healthy and keeping your body in shape, but I also know that examples speak louder than words when it comes to the parent-child relationship.

          By far, the aspect of my mom’s insecurity that impacted me (and all of my siblings) the most was the unspoken things. Women don’t have to say anything about their appearance in order to convey their insecurity. It’s things like rejecting gifts my father would give her, not being affectionate towards my dad, and rolling her eyes the few times he complimented her that spoke the loudest to me. It’s almost like she was creating unspoken rules about what kind of appearance is beautiful and what isn’t. My brother even has self-image issues. He’s a very thin guy and, although you’d think he’d be more likely be wanting to gain weight or muscle, he’s actually extremely paranoid about gaining even an ounce of fat. The message my mom sent even impacted him.

          One last thing that impacted me in a big way, that I think many women don’t consider, is how my parents related to each other. Although they could literally talk about anything for hours, I almost NEVER saw them touch each other. Lack of affection in parents sends a very big signal to children.

          My father would compliment my appearance a lot as a teenaager and adult. Although that was very sweet, it made me feel uncomfortable hearing it said to me and almost never to my mom. I wore my hair long back then too and my dad loved that. He always wanted my mom to grow her hair long as well, but she ignored that and kept it extremely short. Growing up, I always dressed nice, did my make-up in a feminine way, and kept myself in shape. My dad always noticed the effort I put into keeping myself healthy and well groomed and told me so. He would always say how proud he was of me for keeping myself up after I would finish exercising. Although that was great encouragement and I know he meant well, he also played a part in shaping the insecurity I faced most of my life. The message he sent, by not complimenting my mom very much and complimenting me so often, is that husbands will give affection, compliment, and love you more if you look a certain way. Although one of the reasons I keep up my healthy and appearance is out of love and respect for my husband, I would do it anyway because I see the importance of being a good steward over the body the Lord gave me.

          I remember, when I gave birth to my first daughter, praying that the Lord would protect her from any leftover insecurities of mine from being projected onto her. I so much didn’t want my daughter to grow up judging herself by the same standard I was indirectly taught to. Look at the epidemics we have going on in our nation because of insecurity! It’s so hard to accomplish everything God wants us to when we are looking at ourselves through glasses of doubt and worthlessness. And that’s why I have prayed fervently for healing in my life in this area. I want my daughters to learn to look at themselves through the 20/20 vision Christ has, instead of the magnifying glass the world uses to point out everything that’s wrong with us by the world’s standards. God has been faithful to protect my daughter in this area and I am so grateful for how He’s worked in my heart to remove this stronghold.

          1. I would like to make a comment here from a man’s perspective.

            If you are going through these insecurities, please understand that your husband likely doesn’t have a clue about most of what you are going through, even if he tries very hard to understand. Men’s minds don’t comprehend much of this, unless you clearly explain it to them.

            Therefore, when he gives you compliments, understand that they are, in fact, sincere compliments. He really means what he says. Try to accept his compliments as sincere compliments, and try to be encouraged and uplifted by them.

          2. Jim,

            You are right that husbands don’t usually have any idea the extent of the struggle with insecurity that their wives have. If they did, I’m sure they would do all they can on their end to help. Keeping in mind, of course, that healing is ultimately brought forth by the power of the Holy Spirit in us.

            Since my husband and I began courting, I have always been 100% forthright and open with him about all of my sins and struggles. I am an open book to my husband and his prayers have been a priceless gift to me over the years.

            My husband always receives a warm “thank you” whenever he compliments me. He does not compliment me a ton, but I’ve noticed he has been doing it more since the Lord grabbed hold of his heart and is working on cleansing him. I have seen such an incredible turnaround in my husband just this past week and it’s just incredible. I’ve noticed him becoming more tender and vulnerable, which is something that was absent the past couple of years. I even remember him coming to me a few times the past couple months and apologizing to me. He said that I had been sitting on the couch listening to him share some business ideas and was looking at him in a very respectful and loving way. He made a kind of “What on earth are you doing?” type of expression in response and then looked almost annoyed. He told me that he’s sorry he responded that way when I was showing my respect and love toward him. That he doesn’t know why, but he was afraid to smile back at me because he didn’t want to feel vulnerable. I thought that was very interesting! My husband used to be very open and vulnerable with me before, so it’s clear to me that the enemy was trying to convince him that he would be weak if he expressed tenderness toward me.

            I think it’s so important that husbands and wives be open and honest, sharing our struggles and hearts with each other. Although Christ is the ultimate redeemer and healer, we can be an incredible resource of strength and healing for our spouses.

          3. Thejoyfilledwife,
            That is so interesting! I think he is not the only husband who feels this way on this journey. This may be something we need to share with other wives, too. I think it may give them such encouragement.

            Love this! I am so excited about what God is doing in your life and your husband’s life!

          4. TheJoyFilledWife:

            Because of your 100% forthrightness and openness about your sins and struggles, he not only knows what is on your mind, but he knows that he can trust you. That is why he has opened up lately to you. That is why he apologizes to you. That is why he admitted to being afraid of appearing vulnerable. It is very normal for a man not to want to appear vulnerable to anyone, so if he admitted this to you, you can be sure that he is close to once again being open and vulnerable with you.

            And it is all because he knows that he can absolutely trust you!

            Jim

          5. Jim,
            Thank you for these insights. This is so important for us as wives to get a peek into how our husbands think. Then maybe we can understand them a bit more accurately instead of assuming they are being unloving. Maybe we can see that there may be fear going on, fear of vulnerability.

            I love what God is doing with ThEJoyFilledWife and her husband. I am so thrilled he is feeling safe enough to be vulnerable again. Woohooo!!!!

          6. April:

            I’m learning a huge amount by being here. It is a huge blessing to me to learn the kinds of concerns and issues that women face. I will be much better prepared when I one day remarry.

            Isn’t it amazing with her husband! That speaks volumes about her.

            Thanks for letting me hang out here!

            Jim

    4. Elizabeth,

      You know, it seems to me that your husband must have found you to be attractive because I just can’t fathom that he would have married you if he didn’t. I’m very glad that your husband honors you and doesn’t ogle other women. That is a blessing.
      I love the way you focus on your inner beauty – that is the only beauty that any of us have that will last and it is the only kind of beauty God values. It also has a way of making us beautiful to other people, even if we don’t look like models.

      I actually think that you have something so precious – knowing not to count on physical beauty and knowing how important inner beauty is. That is something we will all face and we must all deal with at some point. I love your heart for God.

      Much love to you!

  2. Reblogged this on Peaceful Single Girl and commented:

    Most women have body image issues in our culture today. That makes me so sad! God has made us and we are fearfully and wonderfully made. :). How I pray that God might empower us to look at ourselves the way He sees us . And I pray that we might desire Him far above all else and that we might allow Him to fully form Christ in us so that each of us might have that rare beauty that is so very valuable and precious in His sight – a gentle and peaceful spirit that does what is right and does not give way to fear. The only way we can have this kind of beauty is if we understand that our old sinful nature is dead in Christ and that if we are in Him, He has given us a new life, a new heart and a new spirit. As we allow Him to have full control and we completely yield to Jesus as Master, He will create the most stunning godly beauty in our hearts. That is my prayer for you!!!

    Check out this post to see how some other women are healing from the scars they have about body image that they received in childhood and as teenagers.

  3. I have always wondered if a large part of women’s insecurity is outside schooling. I think everyone gets bullied at school at some point. I watch the Duggars a lot. The motto for their children is to love God and love others. All the children seem so loved and secure. The parents almost only use words of praise. The children are growing up knowing who they are in Christ. They are all home schooled. Is sending them out into the world for hours every day away from their parents causing the majority of insecurity and worthlessness in women? All the competition between girls, the gossip, the meanness, and what they are being taught? I realize some of you got it from home from your above comments but can godly, Christian parents raise confident, happy children by teaching them their worth in Christ and reminding them consistently as they raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord as God demands? Just some of my thoughts.

    1. Lori,

      There is competition between girls, gossip, meanness in the homeschooling community too (I homeschooled my children and was involved in similar circles as the Duggars) Homeschooling certainly allows the parents more control on the exposure their children have, but ultimately the underlying factor in how the children develop is how involved the parents are in nurturing and shaping the children’s character. The key, in my humble opinion, is how involved the parents are in their children and addressing the children’s feelings, thoughts, behaviours etc and molding their character… The Duggars have a character assessment chart they use http://www.duggarfamily.com/data/sites/69/downloads/characterqualities.pdf

  4. God has given me a beautiful face but a distorted body, and despite the beautiful face, I had a lazy eye and horrible teeth (both corrected).

    When I was 13 years old, I was diagnosed with scoliosis (in my case an S curve in my back). My parents and I did not elect surgery, and instead I wore a visible brace 23/7 from my neck down to my hips until I turned 16. Thankfully, I was still in my wallflower stage, so I didn’t feel the effect of the reaction from my peers. The brace prevented the curvature from getting worse, but time, age, gravity has increased the curvature!

    Despite my deformity, I have been loved. I have been told I’m beautiful and sexy. I have always tried to stay slim, exercise, eat properly, and dress to ‘hide’ my curvature (being tall helps too). I have also learned to have fun with it. I call my ‘hippy’ side my baby carrier! I joke that I have my curve side and my straight side, so my husband has variety. This usually makes other more comfortable!

    With respect to dress, I cannot wear tight fitting clothes as it accentuates the curvature, so by default I have been more modest than the norm/culture. I have always struggled with the fit of most clothes as they don’t accomodate my curves very well and end up looking like the hems are uneven, but a few years back I found a wonderful seamstress that knows how to fit clothes to allow for my extra curves.

    My husband tells me he doesn’t notice my deformity, and just this morning was praising me on how I had a beautiful body. In the beginning, I didn’t believe him, but his ‘actions’ certainly support his statements! I don’t know if I’ve over compensated for my deformity by being more pleasing than normal, but I do try to be enticing, playful, and always willing towards my husband.

    I don’t know why God has shaped me this way, but I do know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made! I also know that it has allowed for lots of character building! God has given me a stubborn and conquering spirit so that it hasn’t kept me from living the life given to me. I danced ballet, jumped out of planes, ridden quad-centuries (4×100 miles), water-skied, had children, horseback riding, and my husband is teaching me how to fly a plane!

    A few years back I was given a plaque from a dear friend with the following quote, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”. My deformed body isn’t going to keep me from living life! There is so much to enjoy!

    1. senterwife,

      I love your spirit and your “joy in living”! I truly believe that our self-confidence and inner joy does radiate to everyone around us and light up the space wherever we are. It sounds like you are a wonderful example of this!

  5. Wow! I am grateful for this post because the comments by the wife who initially asked the question has made me realize how cruel I might have been to some of my family members and friends. I have never struggled with insecurities about the way I look, so when some of my friends and family members say negative things about themselves, I would act annoyed 🙁 or say the typical cliche stuff the wife mentioned.
    I just thought they were being shallow or silly 🙁 … after all they looked fine to me! If someone who really looked hideous expressed similar concerns, I would have been supportive, but I brushed off the comments, because I was not sensitive to the true insecurities that they felt, regardless of whether they were justified or not.
    I will need to be more sensitive in the future and I will recommend the book joyfilledwife, mentioned.
    I really had no idea that insecurities with body images were as prevalent as the posts seem to suggest.
    Now that I think of it, I must be living in another world to be so unaware of it! It’s so strange, when something is not really an issue to us, we sometimes can’t imagine how it really impacts others 🙁 . I’m not a super model type at all… But I have never found myself thinking I’m not beautiful or attractive, so it’s not that I intended to be insensitive to others, but I really couldn’t imagine that their negative thoughts were so heartfelt :-(.
    Next time, I’ll be more prepared as now I understand that as beautiful as they are to me, they say the things they say, because they don’t feel as beautiful as they are 🙁

    1. Prayinglikehannah,

      This is absolutely a widespread problem among many women. I love your comment. I am so glad that we can talk about these issues together and I know that God may just use you to help women who are hurting in the future to be able to examine the ideas they believe and to discard any lies or unhealthy ideas and to embrace the love and truth of Christ and find healing. 🙂

  6. I’ve always struggled with my weight since I can remember. The worst comments were mostly from family members. My grandma would say oh Sarah you are so beautiful, if you lost some weight you could be a model. To me that always sounded like you would be beautiful if only you weren’t so fat. Those comments stick with you. After my third baby I lost 70 lbs, but I never felt pretty, prettier, but not pretty. After gaining back 50 lbs with my 4th I’ve realized the problem, its that I try to find contentment with food, when I should be finding it with God. Even when I lost weight the obsession was all about what foods to eat, so when I was succesful I was still so dissatisfied. God led me recently to a course called the lords table at settingcaptivesfree.com. it has been life changing. I eould encourage anyone that struggles with food, in anyway to look into it. I’ve lost 8 lbs since starting it, but more importantly my relationship with God has grown abundantly. For the first time in my life I am happy that God gave me this struggle because its led me to freedom. I know that it is not Gods intention for me to remain overweight because this weight is a symbol of my sin, but I do believe that He gave me this struggle so that I would have no choice but to come running to Him.

    1. Sarah
      Thank you so much for sharing! I appreciate this resource. So many women turn to food for comfort and try to find their acceptance, love, joy, peace, identity and purpose in food or weight instead of in Christ. I praise God that He is working in you to tear out this idol. Woohoo!!

  7. This is such a great article! I can relate a lot to this! Sometimes, I read these blog posts and it sounds as if it was my life I was reading about! Thank you so much to all of you that share your stories to encourage others! 🙂

  8. Since much of the hurt women feel about their body image is from how they believe their husbands see them, I would like to give a man’s perspective on this issue. I hope it is helpful.

    If you have inner beauty, and if you try to look pretty on the outside, I promise you that ALL good men will find you attractive. Even if you have a physical deformity.

    What do I mean by inner beauty?
    * You have a gentle and peaceful spirit.
    * You are humble.
    * You admire and respect your husband.
    * His heart safely trusts in you — he can tell you ANYTHING, and nothing he says will ever be used against him in a future argument. (However, you can respectfully and lovingly discuss things he says which are of concern to you.)
    * You are loyal to your husband — he knows that you will be there for him when he is down, and that he can trust your loyalty to him when he is not around.

    What do I mean by “try to look pretty”? I mean that you make an effort to look pretty. Personally, I don’t want a glamour girl, nor do I want Miss America. But I do want someone who is feminine, and who makes an effort to make herself pretty. Her being feminine and trying to look pretty is what will light my fire, not her being a glamour girl.

    If a girl has a good relationship with her daddy growing up, in my opinion she will have a much better self image than those girls who didn’t.

    1. Jim,

      This is so helpful!
      Thank you for sharing this. I know it will bless many wives.

      I also agree completely that girls who have a good relationship with their dad growing up have a wonderful foundation for the way they see themselves. Dads have incredible power to bless their daughters and help them develop self confidence and to see the beauty God has created in them.

  9. April, thank you for this blog, this community, this sisterhood. This is the first online community where I feel I can truly share my heart. I love the honesty and the fellowship. I am so thankful to God that you all have been so willing to help me in my personal struggles, and that other women are being blessed and helped as well.

    I am so thankful that the sisters (and some Christian brothers as well) that read and comment are so forthright and honest in their sharing. There is no pretense, no platitudes, no pretending – and it is such a balm to my spirit.

    Thank you again,
    Becca

    1. Becca,

      It warms my heart to see women like you finding healing here and the real dialogue and heart level sharing we are having here. I know it pleases God, too, and that fills me with so much joy. To think about how God ordained this place and this group of believers to come together so that He might pour out healing, understanding, wisdom, hope, faith, light, truth and freedom from bondage – it just fills me with such awe, thanksgiving and praise to our great God.

      Much love!
      April

  10. I have two stories I wanted to share quickly, that relate to this topic. (I didn’t want my previous comment to be too long! 🙂

    Because of my history and what I dealt with growing up, my children are not allowed to speak hurtfully to one another. They’re not perfect, and they do say the wrong thing sometimes – don’t get me wrong. But they are NOT allowed to call each other fat – or ugly. In fact, one of my kids has been working on eating better and moving more, and his brother is his biggest encourager. I love seeing that. It blesses me.

    Speaking of things that are said to us as children, I had a relative that used to say to me – quite often (I am sure they thought they were being funny) “when you were a baby you were so ugly we had to tie a pork chop around your neck to get the dog to play with you.” It was a joke, and I was supposed to find it funny, I guess. I knew it was a joke – but on top of all the other things that were said to me, I think it would have been better if they didn’t joke that way. I was just a normal little kid – but even if I weren’t – it still would have been uncalled for.

    I teach drama to teens. Mostly girls. I have a lovely young lady in my class (age 13) – we’ll call her “Lucy” – I think she’s adorable – and a perfectly normal size. If I had to guess, she’s maybe a size 8. But that doesn’t matter – just trying to put things in perspective here. Her best friend is a great kid as well, though she is a tiny teen – probably a size 2. So one day we are rehearsing, and Lucy just falls right off the stage – right in front of me. Thankfully we were on the low stage – only about 18 inches off the ground. I ran to her side and she was coming to. To make a very long story short, she was fine, we helped her up and I called her dad. I told him although I was standing right there, I have no idea what happened. It was like she just passed out. I asked her what she had eaten that day (this was around 4 in the afternoon) and she told me “an apple”. Her parents later confided in me that they had been having trouble with getting her to eat. See, she and her best friend had gone to a thrift store for a fun “girls day” of shopping. A lady – a stranger – came up to Lucy and said “Oh honey – the Plus size stuff is on the other side of the store.” Ouch! (Please don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against plus size people) But to a teen girl with a teeny tiny best friend – this is hard to hear. And she’s not even in plus sizes yet! But that comment, by a stranger no less, stuck with her and drove her to try to lose weight (that she didn’t need to lose) in an unhealthy, unsupervised way. I truly think people don’t realize just what a powerful effect their words can have on someone’s heart. I pray for Lucy, that she will grow up knowing she is beautiful, and she will not suffer from the insecurities I suffer from as an adult.

    1. Becca,
      I can’t tell you how sad it makes me that anyone would call a child ugly. 🙁

      And thank you for sharing the story about Lucy. I pray that God might use you to help her discover her real beauty and to help her find her acceptance, love, identity, purpose, peace and joy in Christ alone. How I pray she could see how beautiful she is and not allow the careless words of others to wound her. I pray for healing for her soul.

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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