This article is from Issue 85: January/February 2017

Skin Deep

The number of people struggling with body image is at an all-time high. But nothing can rewrite what God already says about you.

In a culture obsessed with sex, youth and the idea of a perfect body, perhaps it’s unsurprising that many of us are unsatisfied with the bodies we currently have—no matter what they’re like. On top of personal dissatisfaction, most of us are constantly comparing ourselves to others on social media. Selfies and perfectly filtered photos fill our feeds, and now research supports what most of us understand inherently: The more time we spend on social media, the worse we feel about ourselves.

“Younger adults spend more time per day on [Facebook] and experience more negative body image because of Facebook than do older adults,” according to a recent study conducted by Hayes, van Stolk-Cooke and Muench.

Another survey found that nearly half of 18- to 34-year-old users feel “ugly or unattractive” because of what they see on their social media. Add the daily bombardment of advertisements that tell us we should try to look younger, weigh less and enjoy incredible sex, and you’ve got a recipe for body image disaster.

Christians, however, don’t have to use the same measuring stick that culture does when it comes to evaluating our image. Christian teaching affirms that we can confidently assert that while our bodies are valuable, they aren’t the primary determinant of our worth or even beauty. God alone gets the final word on body image since He is our creator, and because we have been made in His image, we also know that our bodies are good (Genesis 1:27). This truth changes everything.

1. Being made in God’s image means your body’s main purpose is not to attract others.

Look around and you’ll notice more than enough images of bodies to make you believe they exist simply to attract others. Magazines, music videos and commercials teach us—a thousand times a day—that our bodies were created to draw attention and attraction to themselves over and above any other purpose they might have.

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