I am here to tell you to put on the suit.
I’ve struggled with body image issues for the majority of my life. Growing up, I heard “you’re too skinny” or “you need to put some meat on those bones.” I was called chicken legs and string bean repeatedly. It was humiliating to hear friends in high school tell me I shouldn’t wear something because I didn’t have a backside to fill it out, and somehow they were the deciding factor to deem my chest not big enough. Girls would be jealous that I was “too skinny” when I simply desired their curves.
Words have power. They can build a person up or can completely destroy someone. Those words spoken over me stayed with me and created power over my self-image. They stayed with me through my formative teen years, 20’s, and early 30’s. The sting of those words made me treat summertime like an unpleasant task instead of a fun time with family and friends.
Two years ago, my dear friends bought a place on the lake. Up till this point in my life, with each passing summer, I had been able to get away with wearing cover-ups in the water or “forgetting” my swimsuit at home, thus having to stay on the boat while everyone else was in the water. Finally, I knew I’d have to come to terms with my body and put on the suit.
It was that same summer that Zach, my oldest, who was eight at the time, came to me as I was packing for us all to go to their lake home for the afternoon. He said, “Mom, do you have a swimsuit? Why don’t you play with us in the water?” I told him, “I do. I just don’t wear it.” As the words fell out of my mouth, I knew what I was saying didn’t make any sense. My youngest, Molly, was one at the time. I wanted to do better for my little girl. I wanted to show her how proud I am of my own body because let’s face it, a woman’s body is amazing and strong.
I’ve read studies that prove modeling behavior and teaching by example affect behavior far more than telling children what to do. Teaching and leading by example and showing your children their self-worth in this world is not easy, but your kids should always feel they have a refuge, a sanctuary, a safe haven when they are with you.
Body positivity isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a process. Daily I have to lean on God, trusting His grace, mercy, and strength will continue to help me fight against the Enemy’s lies. From a practical standpoint, this means I need to remind myself of God’s promises. It means praying big, bold, detailed intentional prayers with confidence. Most importantly, it’s learning to take every thought captive. Your mind is where some of the biggest battles you’ll ever fight are waged. What are the lies you believe?
You, my precious reader, are worth so much more than the reflection you see in the mirror. So put on the suit. Your kids, family, and friends don’t care one bit what you look like. They will remember that you went in the water with them. They will remember your laugh as you’re going down the water slide, and making sandcastles at the beach. They’ll remember the time you spent with them.
God is the Artist who created us all in His image. You are wonderful. Not because I am telling you, because He tells us so. Psalm 139:14 reads, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” It’s a reminder that He gave me my nose, my laugh, my knees, my body type, all my distinct traits for a purpose. I am wonderfully made in His eyes; the most important eyes are those of our Creator. It’s hard to be vulnerable, but there is freedom in rejecting the lies you tell yourself and recognizing the negative thoughts.
Life is made for living and I pray you put on the suit.
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Sara Copley is an encourager, optimist, supporter for kindness, plant lady, Hope*writer member and lover of corny dad jokes. She resides with her husband Joe in the Southwest Metro of Minnesota with their three amazing kids. Sara is passionate about showing her readers that God is in the small details of life. You can find her on Instagram.