When You Don't Like How You Look: 7 Ways to Learn to Love Your Body

photo by hichem dahmani on unsplash

photo by hichem dahmani on unsplash

As a child, Amy Carmichael was bitterly disappointed by her brown eyes. She so longed for blue eyes that she prayed repeatedly that God would change her eyes from brown to blue. To her dismay, He didn’t.

But, years later, Amy developed a newfound appreciation for how God created her when she became a missionary to India. There, Amy worked to rescue young girls who were enslaved as temple prostitutes. In order to blend in with the native Indians and perform reconnaissance in the temples, Amy darkened her light skin with coffee. And, whereas her once-longed for blue eyes would have given her away, her brown eyes helped her blend in perfectly! (This was in the late 1800s and early 1900s, before colored contacts.) When Amy was little, her mother had reassured her that God had given her brown eyes for a reason. How true it turned out to be!

How about you? Do you feel disappointed by aspects of your appearance? Have you ever prayed that God would miraculously transform a certain body part?

If so, you are not alone!

Like Amy, many of us women struggle to be satisfied with our bodies and our appearance. But it’s a struggle we must address if we want to walk fully in our purpose and become all God has created us to be.

Last week, I shared a bit about my own struggles with accepting my physical appearance and how acceptance of all ourselves—including our body/appearance—is necessary to fully walk out our purpose. If you missed that post, you can read it here.

Today I want to share seven practical steps that have helped me learn to like my body, and I believe will help you too!

7 Ways to Learn to Love Your Body

1. Reassure yourself and affirm your value.

As I mentioned last week, we have a relationship with ourselves, and being self-critical can impair our progress and contribute to feelings of stress and depression. But the reverse is also true. When we treat ourselves with love and compassion we can decrease stress and increase our confidence.

One powerful way to do this is to actually look at yourself in the mirror, and say, out loud, things like this: “I love you…You are beautiful…It’s going to be okay…” I know, it feels weird (but it can’t be any weirder than telling yourself how worthless you feel or how unattractive you are!). Just give it a try. Notice how your heart rates slows and your breathing calms. Extending love and reassurance toward ourselves instead of being demeaning or negative toward ourselves has a powerful effect on our minds and bodies.

We’re so used to talking bad about ourselves that it feels normal. Talking lovingly and positively to ourselves feels weird simply because it’s something most of us have had little practice at.

But as weird as talking to ourselves can feel, it’s actually biblical. Look at King David’s example. In Psalm 131 he says, “I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content” (131:2 NIV).

David knew that we have to be proactive at calming ourselves and reassuring ourselves. So when those accusing voices come that tell you’re too big here and you’re too small there, stop and take a moment to calm and quiet your soul. Reassure yourself that you are lovable and acceptable.

2. Ask: “Would I say this to a friend?”

One way to check yourself when you’re tempted to start bashing your appearance is to stop and ask, “Would I say this to a friend?” If the answer is no, you shouldn’t be saying it to yourself either. And, if the answer is no, a good follow up questions is, “What would I say to a friend?” Then say that to yourself.

3. Focus on what works and what you actually do like about your body.

Can you walk? Can you talk and hear and see? Do you have pretty eyes, thick hair, or smooth skin? Instead of focusing on what you don’t like about yourself, shift your attention to what you do like. Practice gratitude for the good job God did in creating you! The more we spend time appreciating the good in ourselves the more our feelings will shift to actually enjoying what we’ve been given.

4. Recognize that the human body is looked on positively and celebrated in the Bible.

King David wrote these beautiful, rapturous words about the wonder of the human body:

 “I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex!
Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking.
It simply amazes me to think about it!
How thoroughly you know me, Lord!
You even formed every bone in my body
when you created me in the secret place,
carefully, skillfully shaping me from nothing to something.” Psalm 139:14-15 (TPT)

You are God’s breathtaking masterpiece! Your body is beautifully designed and wonderfully made. Spend some time thinking about the amazing complexity of your body. And remember, if God says it’s good, it is good!

5. Remember that your body is both an expression of and a conduit for your purpose.

I shared this quote from Havilah Cunnington last week, but I think it’s worth repeating. Havilah asks: “Have you ever wondered or thought about that maybe the way your hair is, your skin color, your eye shape, your body, your voice—all of that is connected to the plan and purpose of God for your life?”

God designed you a specific way to bring forth the purpose He created you for. Just like Amy Carmichael, your appearance is not a mistake! In this life, we may not fully understand why God made us the way He did. But we can trust that there is a good reason.

Our bodies are the vehicles through which we actually carry out our purpose. We need them to write and research and paint and sing and tidy and travel. Our bodies do so much for us! Without them we can’t fulfill our callings.

6. Remember that your body is the temple of the God’s Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).

If you were walking down the street and someone pointed out a house and said, “That’s where Queen Elizabeth II lives,” wouldn’t you be impressed? Even if the house was average looking, you’d likely feel awe just knowing that such an honored person resides there (I would be, anyway! :) )

But, if you’ve accepted Christ, someone much more important than the Queen lives in you: God Himself! Anywhere God resides is a beautiful, holy, and worthy place. And if our bodies are good enough for God, then they’re good enough for us!

7. Accept compliments.

When someone says something nice about you, don’t deflect the comment. Receive the kind words as a gift and trust what they are saying is true! While our confidence shouldn’t depend on what others think, sometimes it can be very encouraging to see ourselves through others eyes. Often, others can see the beauty in us that our self-criticism blinds us to.

I hope this helps you on your journey! The process of learning to love ourselves can take time, so have grace for yourself, keep speaking the truth, and don’t give up! You are a true beauty!

With love,

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  “I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex!
Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking.
It simply amazes me to think about it!
How thoroughly you know me, Lord!
You even formed every bone in my body
when you created me in the secret place,
carefully, skillfully shaping me from nothing to something.”

Psalm 139:14-15 (TPT)

I want to hear from you!

How about you? Do you feel disappointed by aspects of your appearance? What are some things you have done or are doing to help increase your acceptance of yourself? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

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