It’s common knowledge that a teenage girl living in todays world will have body issues due to the influence of the media in her life. But what if I told you that all my body issues in high school were actually largely due to the influence of the christian homeschooling community in my life?
Growing up in the church in the late nineties and early turn of the century was a difficult time. Full of denim jumpers, and terms like “neck to knees, no one sees!” Not to mention a whole survey of what clothing choices men found to be immodest on women. Growing up, I was told that my body was something that caused men to sin, and therefor must be hidden. It was something to be ashamed of, never proud of.
When I was born I got my mother’s genes and I was always very tall. I was 5′ 8″ by the time I was 15, and even though I hated sports I was always pretty active – I spent lots of time walking around, rollerblading, biking, etc, so I was also always pretty slender, too. I got a lot of unwanted attention, and I felt guilty for it every time. I felt responsible for it.
Theres a common misconception in the Christian Homeschooling Community (and oftentimes the church at large) that admiring someone’s physical appearance is the same as lust, and the blame often falls on the woman. “She needs to cover up so men don’t sin” is the attitude, and I credit that kind of mindset and thoughts for my poor body image in high school.
(Let’s all just take a minute to appreciate the fact that I’m wearing a skirt under my dress in the above photos. You know, lest the three inches above my knee cause some poor bloke to sin. *insert eye roll*)
I will never forget the time I was walking around my neighborhood and a man walking past me (probably close to my father’s age) told me I looked good, or asked me if I was a model – some such comment. I’m sure he meant it to be innocent enough, and nowadays it wouldn’t phase me. But back then it was a big deal, and as I walked away, I felt guilty. I felt like it was my fault for whatever I wearing that day. That wasn’t the first time I wished that I wasn’t so pretty and it wasn’t the last. I felt like it was a curse, not a blessing. I weep for that young, misguided girl, and for all other girls that feel or felt that way.
Thankfully, these days I have a much healthier self image. I realize that after dressing decently and behaving respectfully, how others perceive me is out of my control. I realize that I am fearfully, and wonderfully made. My body is a testament to the beauty and goodness of God, and I enjoy taking care of it. I feed it good food, move it to stay fit and cloth it in beautiful clothes; I thank God for it everyday and – dare I say it – I love it.