The Christian Home Schooling Community Caused my Body Shame

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?

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 2.33.14 PM.pngGrowing 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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 2.36.27 PM.pngWhen 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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 2.30.05 PM.png(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.

loveyourselfThankfully, 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.

 

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10 thoughts on “The Christian Home Schooling Community Caused my Body Shame

    1. Thanks for your comment! I don’t think we are an isolated incident. I think there are probably a lot more girls out there that felt like we did, which is why I’m sharing my story now. I want to help any girls that went through it but also to educate any parents out there about what that kind of thinking does! My mum had no idea I ever felt that way.

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  1. Thank you so much for writing this. I think we forget the power of our words, and the long term implications of how we choose to say things. I’ve had a lot of self blame for a few traumatic experiences I’ve had, and even anger at God, because of how I learned in the Church. I’m glad to see this perspective. Thank you, again, for sharing.

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    1. I agree that we often forget the power of our words. I think as women in Christian faith we end up with a lot of the blame from certain situations and I’m sorry you went through that.

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      1. I am thankful that it gave me compassion for other women, and started my journey to an open mind for the pain of others. If we let it, I think pain helps us to see the humanity in people we would normally write off and ignore.

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  2. I grew up in an ultra conservative Christian Home Schooling home and can so relate. We held so much guilt we didn’t need to because it’s not our fault at all how men react.

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  3. “My body is a testament to the beauty and goodness of God, and I enjoy taking care of it.” – Love this statement! Yes, God gave women both beauty of form and spirit. This beauty is a reflection of the glory of God just as you said. I am so sorry for your experience, thank you for sharing. The church has a great platform to help women with body image issues and it is so unfortunate that some can misuse and misguide in this area. Keep up the good work of spreading the goodness and light of Christ!

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