Esther Zimmer has written a brilliant series “The Pro-Body Project,” revealing her personal journey navigating self-worth, food and body image. Her insightful posts have given us a reality check as we consider what is most important in life, versus how the world dictates we define our own beauty.
As I reflect on my recent trip to Uganda, I think about the amazing women who have been through unthinkable tragedy and poverty, and have displayed strength and resilience that most of us will never have to muster. But they are liberated in many ways.
They don’t stress over the size of their thighs or what they look like from behind. They don’t worry about the latest fashion trend. They are lucky to have a change of clothes. They don’t have to talk themselves into getting daily exercise because they walk everywhere they go, tend their gardens with sweat running down their faces, and work sunup to sundown taking care of their own families and others. Thankfully, they are not immersed in Western culture, where we women are constantly comparing our looks and body parts to Photoshopped images in social media and magazines. They have no choice but to accept their bodies as they are. I have to believe there is abundant freedom in that.
As we look at what we get caught up in daily, let’s also look at what we can learn from women who live humble yet difficult lives.
- Love the body you have. You were lovingly put together by a Creator who took special interest in the colors of your hair, eyes and skin. He gave you a unique shape, and whether you are a square, circle, oval or triangle, it was carefully planned before you were even born. Strive to be healthy, not perfect.
- Support other women, don’t compete with them. The women I met in Uganda live in community and they know they can depend on one another. How many really good friends do you have? How many could you count on to take care of your needs when you are sick, struggling financially or dealing with depression? How many do you share your deepest emotions with? Women need other women to lean on—it is essential to our emotional wellbeing. Spend time cultivating deep, authentic relationships, with several BFFs you can call any hour of the day for any need you have.
- Express gratitude every day. No matter how bad your day seems, there is always something to be grateful for. And it’s likely someone, somewhere, is having a worse day. Celebrate the miracle of your body, the beauty of the magnificent universe, having food on your table every day. I met women who had been widowed or abandoned, raising their children and others who had been orphaned due to HIV or malaria. I saw women who have been raped and beaten, still bearing the emotional and physical scars. They were all singing and dancing as they joined together in worship, with smiles that were contagious. I heard so many times, “Thank you for loving us enough to come here.” I felt truly appreciated.
True beauty comes from within. It is found in strength of character, courage, and a generous spirit. No matter what your shape or size you are, no matter how many gray hairs or wrinkles you have, you are beautiful, just because you are you.