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One of my most persistent struggles in life has been over body image. It started in elementary school when one of the girls called me “fat.” It’s amazing that one girl’s cruelty could have a life-long effect, but it has. For the record, here is a picture of me in early elementary school. (That’s my sweet little brother in the picture with his dear friend, Ivy. Aren’t they cute!)

Having decided at an early age that this cruel girl was right, I went through most of my childhood and teen years convinced that I was fat. And since guys rarely asked me out (I can count the number of dates I had before I met Matt on one hand), I felt like I had good evidence that I just wasn’t at all attractive.

So, I have struggled for many, many years with how I see myself. Being married to Matt has done wonders to my self-image.┬áIt still honestly amazes me that Matt thinks I’m beautiful, but I’ve decided to accept that he does and not question it. Which brings me to my point in writing this.

Ladies, it’s time to stop listening to the “world” and it’s values in determining our worth and our standards of beauty. A woman’s worth and beauty are not determined by a number on a scale or a size on a pair of jeans. While I completely agree with the importance of being healthy, eating balanced meals, and exercising, it’s time for us to stop being so critical of ourselves and so discontent with who God made us to be and what He made us to look like.

For most of us, at our age and stage of life, we owe a good bit of our current “shape” to having had children. Why is this a bad thing? I wouldn’t trade my children for anything, not even the 28-inch waist I had before they were born. And, if “Spanx” means anything to you, you know exactly what I mean. Ladies, we are not rounder and saggier because we’ve “let ourselves go.” Our bodies bear the evidence that we are moms. Society doesn’t value that. Somehow, we are supposed to have either the bodies we had as teenagers or the bodies of anorexic, teenaged boys. But, why? Why should we look like we never had children? Please don’t hear what I’m not saying. Being healthy, eating well, and exercise are good things. Unrealistic expectations, aren’t.

As a side note, do you know why women have cellulite and men don’t? (No, I don’t think it’s because of the Fall, although maybe indirectly.) Women store fat in neat little pockets so that they can access them for pregnancy and breast-feeding. Cool, huh?

So, let’s stop the fad diets, the quick weight loss fasts, the diet drugs, and the self-loathing. Let’s remember that God made us as we are and that His love for us is not based on how much we look like the latest air-brushed model on the magazine.