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I am constantly amazed at all the crazy things we do to conform to an image the world says is “perfect.” As a forty-something woman, I admit I’ve been affected in some ways by this, the greatest lie of the century. Here’s what I mean.
As a young girl, I was always considered ‘skinny.’ People called me things like “Skinny Bones, Skinny Minnie, Toothpick, Bone Rack” and the like. Okay, so I have good genes and could eat whatever I wanted. I never dieted in my life, all my sisters detested me, and people would tease me. As an adult, the teasing was upgraded to insults. So I took it all with a grain of salt. After all, these mean words were nothing new to me, but two things surprised me. First, people were oblivious to how their words made me feel. And second, they really seemed to think it was okay to say hurtful things. Therefore, it was okay to say what they were thinking and, somehow, that was acceptable.
Over the years our bodies change. We have babies, we have surgeries and we have hormones that change all the time. What can you do? This is all part of the cycle of life in the human body. Although I’m still considered slim, on occasion I still experience other women looking at me in disgust and telling me I’m “too skinny.”
I will say that all this negative attention affected me to some degree in the past. It has made me feel apprehensive of all the new changes in my body as I’ve entered pre-menopause and things start changing; namely my waistline. I find myself in a quandary, looking for ways to camouflage and hide my growing middle, among other things. Nothing fits me the way it used to and I’m at a loss when I shop for clothes that both complement my body type and are comfy at the same time. Everything points to buffet pants, but I’m not ready to go there quite yet!
What I’m taking hold of right now is the courage to accept my body as it changes from head to toe. That includes all sagging, stretching, cellulite and wrinkles. I am refusing to conform to an unhealthy and ungodly self-image. What I have come to realize is that all this fixation on our bodies and our looks has caused us as women to devalue the wonders of our own supernaturally created physique. We’ve placed high value on things that miss the point of our existence--that primarily, we are created to worship God. We’ve been distracted, sucked into believing so many lies about ourselves that we’ve become a vain imagination on a billboard. We obsess over every inch of our skin, spending billions of dollars on anti-wrinkle creams and feeding the industry that’s selling us this deception in the first place.
I would love to see women everywhere begin to enjoy eating whole foods again--to live a healthy lifestyle and get back to supporting one another in love and compassion. When we encourage each other, we become a united and positive driving force in our homes, our communities and our churches. Our influence ceases to be destructive as we refuse the falsehood that we’re not okay the way we are.
Aging is normal and with it comes gray hair and wisdom. It takes courage and a brave heart these days to say “I’m fifty and life is great!” When did aging become a bad thing for women? I for one do not want to forfeit the blessings God has ordained for me as a maturing woman. And there is an abundance of new life, new strength, new wisdom and profound courage that comes with the turning of life’s odometer. Count me in. I’m forty-four years old, and living just got more interesting. I can’t wait to see what my fifties look like!
Tina Ferrara is an ordained minister who has been preaching and ministering at conferences and retreats for nearly 13 years. Her passion for missions had opened doors for ministry in nations such as India, Uganda, Kenya and Ireland. She has served in many different areas, including training and leading mission teams, hosting a radio program and leading women’s ministries.
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