“What are humans that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God
and crowned them with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:4-5).
Can we talk about . . . body image? One of my goals this year was to become more accepting of people who are different from me, including people who identify as LGBTQIA2S+, which stands for “people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or gender expansive, queer and/or questioning, intersex, asexual, and two-spirit.” I had to look that up to see what all those initials stood for. When I was growing up I was taught that all of those things were wrong according to the Bible. As an adult I began to question that, and eventually decided that the doctrine that feared all those things was what was wrong.
In my acceptance goal I included those who are on the opposite end of the political spectrum and the people I had difficulty accepting in my own life. I found that the Holy Spirit has gradually expanded my original idea to include some surprising revelations.
This article was triggered after I read an article about a new Disney Animation called “Reflect,” which features a plus-size main character as a ballerina. Disney has been criticized for years for its picture perfect princesses. In this story the main character, Bianca, struggles with body image issues. Television and music have come a long way in accepting people of various sizes and colors. The movie industry still needs to up its game. (Consider what those action movie stars go through to become acceptably muscled and hair free.)
Those plus-size stars who have “made it” all have something in common: first, undeniable talent, and second, a willingness to persevere against prejudice and disbelief that would make most of us give up and run. (You know who I mean.)
The first, profound thing I had to confront about myself was that I, who have struggled with weight issues all my life, was terribly prejudiced against people who were overweight. Of course I was aware of that in general about myself, the same as gay or trans people. But this revealed a level of self-criticism I was not conscious of. I not only needed to work on accepting others, I needed to work on accepting myself. Every time I see those people on TV and feel embarrassed. I am not embarrassed for them, I am embarrassed for me, because I too am overweight. Painful self-revelation!
We all struggle sometimes with nagging feelings of insignificance, inferiority, and self-perceived weaknesses. My mother worked very hard to stay in shape herself, and would have done anything to help me do the same, but for me nothing worked. I can remember her depriving herself to lose “that last 5 pounds!” I would just roll my eyes. And I have heard many entertainers admit that they get stage fright or struggle with their body image.
What would God say about your intellectual or spiritual flaws, and your less-than-perfect body? You already know the answer. God created each of us in God’s own image. Our body is a gift. There is beauty in every body shape, every body weight, and every body color. There is beauty in every soul who finds their soulmate, regardless of their sex. If a body is programmed to be a different sex than their birth sex, we should rejoice with their revelations. Through grace we can accept the other we may have judged, and we can accept our selves too. In fact, we may have to deal with our own self-judgment and accept ourselves first, before we can effectively accept another.
Listen, God Is Calling
Author: Tanzanian Traditional
Jesus gave his mandate:
share the good news
that he came to save us
and set us free.
Let none be forgotten
throughout the world.
In the triune name of God
go and baptize.
Help us to be faithful,
walking in your precepts,
led by your Word.
Listen, listen, God is calling
through the Word inviting,
comfort and joy.