Not a Camping Photo Girl

Thoughts on measuring up, by Rachel (our newest writer, who hails from Canada).  Welcome, Rachel to our blog team! 

If I am made in God’s image, then sometimes I think He must be disappointed in His creation.

The older I get the more I realize how debilitating my relationship with my image is and how long and arduous this daily journey has been. We may be fearfully and wonderfully made, and I know that my body is a strong temple (a vessel wherein I house thoughts, passions and moments of sheer praise) – but it is also an entrapment.

See, I hate it at times. Utterly loathe it. There are some days when I look in the mirror and immediately hone in on every. single. flaw: real or imagined. Why can’t I be Gwyneth Paltrow? I wonder, as I follow the curve of my waist to my hips. Why do these jeans give me a muffin-top?  Why do I not have the self-control to stay away from the tub of frozen yogurt in my fridge?  Why does my hair lack luster? Where did that zit come from (you can you get zits in your 30s?! stupid world..); of course that girl has an engagement ring: look at her! She’s gorgeous… me? Lackluster, hips, penchant for frozen yogurt….ugh.

I think some part of me always wanted to be the ideal girl. By that I mean the girl who looks good in camping photos. You know these girls if, like me, you like to Facebook-photo-stalk people.  The camera can’t catch them at a bad angle. While you look like you somehow grew eight chins as the snapshot crept up on you sideways, your hand fingering a gooey roasted marshmallow fireside, she looks delicious: in light and in near dark.  While you bring your compact and mascara and shave your legs off the side of the dock in the mornings, she can tie her hair up into a bandanna and the only reflection she needs is natural sunlight.  You look odd and uneven as you squint into the sun, she seems to possess it.  Your canoe-in-water shot shows you straining in exertion to paddle, while her arm muscles ripple along, propelling the waves.

I’m not that camping photo girl. I hate looking at photos of myself. I zone in on imperfections like a pro. I like to hide behind makeup to keep the world from seeing myself.  I like to wear clothes that accentuate what I think are my best features.  (Even those “best” features are a curse sometimes when I see a girl at the gym whose features are even BETTER), I spend my life in hopeless comparison.

If I’m fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s eyes and perfect to Him as His child and daughter then why, why, why, do these constant mosquito-like thoughts pulse into my susceptible brain?  Because society can seem stronger: we’re bombarded with images of scantily clad, shimmery bronzed women with yoga bodies and doe-eyes.  The women we are marketed to relate to in films and on television can seemingly scarf down boxes of Chinese food and ice cream when their boyfriend breaks up with them (to give one possible scenario) only to be seen un-bloatedly dancing at a club moments later.

If perception is reality then we need to feel, act, and most importantly look like these women; If society wins we need to judge ourselves consistently against other women—not for their inner strength and beauty; but for their outward appearance; If society wins we need to understand that we will never measure up: that we can starve, buy probiotic yogourt, count our calories, somehow make our bone structures magically shrink.

As much as I admit to struggling with my image, I also admit to wanting desperately to change the cycle.  I don’t want to change because society tells me to. I no longer want to admit that I am its slave. I should not be inspired by it: not by the “curvy” women who look more like sticks, or by the magazines that tell me to eat almonds morning day and night to stay hunger: I don’t want it anymore.

Garbage in, garbage out.

Our minds have toxins in the same way our bodies do.  We purge and plunge into health to rid ourselves of unwanted chemicals and particles; I challenge us to do the same with our brains.  I don’t want to change for you, for him, for them, because TV tells me to, because I read an article in a magazine: I want to change for God, who sees beyond my physiognomy. If I am made in His image, shouldn’t I be gloriously psyched about it?  If He is all-powerful and all-wonderful and knows the hairs on my head and my every thought and every heartbeat, should I not cherish His attention to detail?

Fashions change, ideals change, humans are fallible and weak, we are sheep led to conforming pasture; but God doesn’t waver. He has made people in His image since the beginning of time: He gave us this world and all of its bounty in hopes that we would love ourselves and others and submit to Him. His standards are based on far more than looking the right way in a camera angle; they stretch beyond jeans and muscle-toning, height, weight and make-up…His strength is perfect enough to combat our incessant obsession over seeming imperfection.

I feel slightly hypocritical writing this while full-well knowing that it’s not easy to unravel the tight thread of years and years of pre-possessing thoughts. It’s not easy to keep from harboring guilt following a bout of eating movie-theatre popcorn or skipping the gym or putting on jeans that just don’t look good on me.

It’s not easy; but neither is my Christian walk, neither is faith, neither is reliance on God.

I may not look like that ideal girl in the camping photos when I comparatively run through my Facebook pictures; but I know I look pretty darn spectacular to my Creator and I vow to remember more often and more potently that His is the only opinion that really counts.  I am beautiful, strong, awesome, and …. Oh look! That frozen yogurt isn’t going to eat itself.

To find out more about Rachel, visit our writer’s page

Art Credit: Tumblr.

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