Women

The Heart: A Wild Creature

This statement, from its anonymous author, recently caught my attention:

"Hearts are wild creatures. That's why our ribs are cages."

Its focus, the heart and the rib cage, hit home. For I have had a disordered history with both.
My obsession with the thin physique created my descent into anorexia and its painful heart issues.

"...I could count all of my ribs. I still wasn't thin enough; it wasn't good enough..."*

As I've been in recovery from eating disorders, food, weight and body image issues, yes, I've had to deal with my heart. That, therefore, includes the related topics of passions, desires and idolatry.

Nature vs. Nurture: An Unanswered Question?

Nature versus nurture: it's still an unanswered question. And that mystery applies to all things appearance.

Faces have always captured my attention. I am fascinated by the variety of features and expressions they contain.

A Couple of Kittens...

I first was obsessed with my mother's set of three cat figurines. There was one "mother cat" and her two smaller white kittens. I was especially preoccupied with the kittens.

And here, perhaps, is where I encountered one of my first harmful disordered ideas about image. I viewed one kitten as cuter, a/k/a, "better" than the other. Why? It was because this kitten- let's call her "Sally"- appeared to have a sweeter, more pleasing, "good kitty" facial expression. The other kitten, however, had more of a "Sophia- Loren- exotic- eyeliner-drawn- face" situation going on.

And, somehow, to me, that kitten face - let's call her "Sophia"- symbolized more mischief and displeasing, "bad kitty" behaviors than that of innocent-and-cute-looking Sally.

Indeed, in this kitten context, my toddler self was already learning inaccurate appearance associations all on my own.

But soon, other influences contributed to my preferences. Adults also instructed me about which emotions, often depicted in the human face, were acceptable - and which were not.

An Image Utensil?

The Mother-Daughter Tug-of-War

It's been said the mother-daughter relationship is the most complicated dynamic around. Therefore, most of us can see why eating disorder behaviors often arise within these relationships. The influential modeling of mother on daughter impacts her beauty values.

But the issue goes beyond just appearance; the enmeshment creates a tug of war for control and autonomy.

Are You a "Cutter" and Don't Even Know It?

Are you a "cutter" and don't even know it?

Self-injury, largely through the behavior of "cutting," is often experienced, in tandem with disordered eating.

But, I am putting it out there, that almost all of us are affected with this harmful condition in one way or another. Sound like an exaggeration?

How else do you explain the many self-inflicted, tormenting thoughts, words or deeds we engage in, on a daily basis.

Have you ever been on a diet? Have you ever said to yourself or others, "I'm too fat?"

Self-Esteem: "I wish I looked like..."

"I wish I looked like..."

For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. James 3:16

In day two of this national eating disorder awareness week, we turn our attention to appearance. Indeed, wishing, coveting and image are right there in our lives. The outside world displays some aspirational form of aesthetically pleasing and powerful messages; beauty,
especially within the definition of a rigid, thin beauty, becomes its dominant depiction.

This hierarchy of human value, intensified with its dangled promises of untold perfection, happiness and a problem-free existence, can often find us is a position to covet, to envy and to further exemplify less than positive character attributes in the process.

A sound heart is the life of the flesh:
but envy the rottenness of the bones.
Proverbs 14:30

And it stems from a place of fear: we fear we are inadequate as is. Scripture, however, negates that concept...

“I wish I was acceptable...”

Since thou wast precious in my sight... I have loved thee... Isaiah 43:4


Our eating awareness week continues with acceptability. Indeed, there is the pervasive lie out there which tells us how beauty equals acceptance.

And, certainly within our culture, we are inundated with more than enough evidence that this theory is "fact." Look how we fawn over Hollywood, the fashion world and particular image aesthetics. We are convinced "the beautiful people" are more valuable, more relevant and definitely more accepted than anyone who is not fitting that criteria.

The Problem of Self-image and the Ethereal

…the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

This time of year assaults us with the obvious "too much" of the holiday season: red and green, Santas, nativity scenes, silver bells and sensory overload at every turn.

During this season, we also see the abundance of angels. It's almost as much of an association with Christmas as the Baby Savior Himself.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:13-14

Indeed, angels are everywhere throughout Scripture:

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. Psalm 91:11

"The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity." Matthew 13:41

And he saith unto him, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." John 1:51

Seven Ways to Overcome Negative Body Image

Airbrushing is an all too common technique used in the fashion and beauty industries. In our current cultural landscape, you and I would be hard pressed to find a magazine cover which is not "retouched" in some way.

In 2003, actress Kate Winslet was quite vocal about her airbrushed body. She speaks of her experience with "GQ Magazine," along with their choice to feature her manipulated image on its cover...

"The retouching is excessive. I do not look like that and more importantly I don't desire to look like that. I can tell you they've reduced the size of my legs by about a third."

The Toxic Gender Role Dance

Okay, I'm attempting to simmer down. I just finished another viewing of the animated Disney classic, "Sleeping Beauty."

Like a lot females out there, I have a complicated love/hate view of this fairytale princess depiction.

Over the years, I have bought into, absorbed, aspired to be like and have been resentful of this ingénue archetype. I have run the gamut of emotions, largely because of the all-important beauty factor which is mandatory for our young princess heroine.

It was all I could do to get through this latest viewing of the film.

For, right off the bat, we have our staple Disney music, chiming in, emphasizing just how beautiful our "Sleeping Beauty" is...

Are You a Caricature?

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he... Proverbs 23:7

When I was a senior in high school, I had a caricature drawing done with a friend of mine. I remember as we sat for the artist, we tried not to laugh and squirm as we anticipated what the finished product would look like.

And, I'll admit it, when I saw the drawing, I was startled.

I looked at my ginormous head, stubby nose and large mouth and it certainly didn't look like a "beauty shot."

But, it was never supposed to. The caricature was, well, a caricature.

    "a picture, description, or imitation of a person or thing in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect."

I didn't quite appreciate the drawing for what it was: exaggerated. The shock to my system created feelings that confirmed, yes, I was grotesque.

And that drawing memory connects me to another one.

My high school art teacher repeated a motto as we, her students, attempted to draw anything, people included:

"Draw what you see, not what you know."

The concept, if embraced,

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