Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Body Image 2

Let me continue with my thoughts of body image from a more spiritual and less "functional" perspective.

Our bodies are divinely created after the image of God. They are the final, highest creation of the Lord. We are each one of his masterpieces. In the scriptures our bodies have been compared to a temple of God that can house the Spirit of the Lord. 

As temples, we ought to keep our bodies clean both physically and spiritually. We ought to do our best to take care of these mortal tabernacles given to us by God. They house within them divinely begotten spirits of our Heavenly Father. Each person's body, with all its beauty and all its imperfections, are creations of the Lord. 

I like to think of this as I would a great work of art. Let's take a Van Gogh for example.
His paintings, to me, look very "imperfect." Many are not even "pretty" to me. His self portrait is not something I would want to look at everyday. But all of them are "masterpieces" worth incredible amounts of money. Part of the reason all of his work is worth so much is because HE made them. Even his lesser known works are worth serious money because they were made by HIM. Often those works with imperfections are are the most highly prized. 

If we value so highly, imperfections and any work created by the hand of one famous man, how much more ought we to value ANY work created by the hand of GOD? How much more ought we to value the "imperfections" in HIS work that create identity, individuality, and uniqueness? 
I try to teach this lesson to my girls. I teach them that their body is a temple and a masterpiece of art made by God. Along with this, I try to emphasize my point by telling them not to draw on themselves or others. I ask them if they like it when their sisters draw on their artwork. The answer is ALWAYS, "no." They think it ruins their art if a sister so much as touches it with any kind of writing. I then tell them that their body is God's work of art and we don't want to write on it either. Luckily, He made our bodies washable so we can wash off such marks but we should try not to put them there in the first place.

Now, I know most people think nothing of writing a phone number on their hand or whatever. I am not saying it is "wrong" of people to do that. But I think teaching this point helps my kids understand that their bodies are works of art and ought to be appreciated as such. It is something to which they can relate because they draw all the time and often get upset when a sister draws on their creation. 

I wish we all could appreciate our bodies and especially the imperfections in our bodies as part of what makes us such great art. I wish we could all stop striving to have "perfect" hollywood image and start loving the differences in our own frame that make us who we are. This is increasingly hard in our society, but I hope and pray I will be able to instill this appreciation in my little girls. 

I want them to take care of their bodies. I want them to eat a fairly healthy diet and stay active. I want them to stay clean and brush their hair and teeth. I am think it is good to make the most of what you have been given. But I hope they learn to appreciate every part of their bodies as part of the creation, even the masterpiece, of God that they are.

A last thought tomorrow on true self esteem...


mckenna said...

I really LOVE these thoughts you're sharing. My daughter is four. She's my oldest. I struggled (and still do a lot of the time) with my self image growing up, and I am constantly thinking lately about how to help her to avoid this. Your thoughts are helping me to understand my role as her mother a little better. Thank you so much!!

Stephanie said...

That was beautiful Steph! I agree whole heartedly with everything you said. I love how simply you explained it. What a great lesson for our girls--and us as mothers too! We are all works of art! I am saddened at the constant drive for women to look a certain way. What a wonderful, happy world this would be if we appreciated every woman for her unique beauty.


Ben and Taryn said...

I absolutely LOVE what you said here. My goal for the new year was to not only work on losing a few pounds but work on liking my body more. What you have said totally rings true and is something I need to constantly remind myself of. Thanks so much for your insight!

Anonymous said...

I think that it is especially important for mothers to teach the idea to their children that each person is an individual masterpiece. Not only does it help how we view ourselves, but how we see and treat other people. In this day and age I see many women altering their bodies with non-essential surgeries that alter and enhance the body. I know that plastic surgery/procedures is an individual choice, but I think that when we alter ourselves in order to feel better, we not only kid ourselves, but we present a particular idea and image to our children. The overall message that we send to ourselves and children is that what we have been given is not enough. I think it does get to the point where we need to appreciate our assets, aknowledge our imperfections, and spend each day grateful that we each have in our own way something in our physique that may not be how we want it, but it's what we've got, and it works, and it is unique to us. Let's face it ladies. Women are divinely fabulous, and this can only be magnified by a positive attitude.

Mike and Tammy said...

I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciated this post. It brought me to tears.

I have always struggled with body image issues. This gave me a new perspective.

Thanks again.

Rebecca Whitcomb North said...

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this topic, Stephanie. I think we as women always need to be reminded of our individual worth, because Satan always works on us the hardest, especially in regards to our body image. This post is an excellent reminder to stay focused on what real divine beauty is. Thank you for taking the time to right this post.

Stina said...

I love the way you worded this. It is beautiful. I also love the unique way you are teaching your daughters to view their bodies. I just taught Sharing Time in Primary last week about our bodies being temples and loved talking with the kids about all the amazing things we can do with our bodies...along with ways we should treat and respect this wonderful gift from Heavenly Father.

Growing up (starting at 8 and 9 years old) my imperfections with my body (weight mostly) were pointed out to me constantly by one of my parents and I was always told what I needed to do to correct them. I was put on all sorts of diets (looking back at pics from my childhood, it horrifies me that they even said anything...I was so skinny). I'm pretty sure this is at least one reason why I have spent most of adulthood ultra aware of my weight.

Since meeting and marrying my husband, we have made a pact to never talk badly about our bodies (and never about others), to never talk about weight (we just talk about what we need to do to be healthy and be able to have fun: get exercise, enough sleep, and lots of healthy food), to never talk badly about our bodies (especially after weighing them) and to only have the scale in our bathroom.

Our oldest is just three but she is smart and aware of what goes on and is said around her. I feel like my husband and I are taking the hurt from my childhood and turning into something positive by hopefully allowing our own children to avoid the struggles I've had with feeling comfortable in my own skin.

Noorda Notebook said...

these are really good posts on true beauty, steph. thanks for sharing your thoughts! we're missing you at a.i. get-togethers. we need some meltaways and yummy dip :)

Anonymous said...

steph, hi! i loved this post. it gave me a new and fresh perspective when i am explaining certain things to my girls ( and soon my son) about their bodies. i never thought of it as God's masterpiece in those exact words. great way of putting it.

hope you are feeling well with that baby boy!

Heather & Greg said...

Your mother- in law came and spoke to my ward for enrichment last night and she talked about all her kids (including in-laws), all her grandchildren and you sweet little Camille. What a wonderful lady she is! I really enjoyed listening to her. You truely have a wonderful family,

Jon & Tara said...

Stephanie, thank you so much for your thoughts on body image. I have struggled with being happy with my own body image, oddly enough, since I've been married. Anyway, I am learning and trying to like my body for what it is, because it's mine. I will be coaching for a program called Girls on the Run. It is a program that is set up to do just what you are trying to teach your girls, that we are all unique and we need to appreciate those things that make us unique and ignore what the media is telling us we should look like or become. If you would like to know more about this wonderful program, go to it is a wonderful program and I am so excited to be a part of it. If you want to talk more about it, email me at Thanks again.