10 Ways to Overcome Body Image Issues

Start taking steps today to overcome your body image issues. For your sake. For the sake of your marriage.

comfortable in your skin

In my previous post, 6 Things Wives Need to Know About Their Body Image Struggles, I explained how body image issues can do damage to your marriage.

Today, I want to give you some possible places to start on your journey toward a healthier self-image. Please read and consider these thoughtfully. Check out some of the many linked posts to dig a little deeper. This will be well worth the effort!

1) Work on Your Mindset

Accepting your appearance starts with realizing that you have been uniquely hand-crafted by God – fearfully and wonderfully made by him (Psalm 139:14). You are his beautiful creation because he says you are. It is also important to understand how negative self-image can damage your marriage (see my previous post). Set it in your heart to change your thinking about yourself. Pray for a heart change. Pray a blessing over each of your body parts, especially the ones you most dislike. Pray for and receive forgiveness for despising God’s creation.

2) Accept your husband’s compliments

When your husband pays you a compliment take it at face value. Thank him instead of refuting him or arguing back. Say thank you, even if you don’t mean it at the time. Hearing yourself say it out loud will help to change your mind. Trust that he delights in you and in the fact that you are his. He does.

(I realize that there are some husbands that claim to no longer be attracted to their wives, though I have found this to be a very small minority. For those suffering in that situation please read Shelia Gregory’s post “What If My Husband Doesn’t Find Me Attractive.”)

3) Practice being naked

The more often you are naked in front of your husband, or mostly so, the more you will learn to feel comfortable in your own skin. Let go of shame and appreciate the way he looks at you with love and genuine desire. Believe me when I say he is desiring YOU, not just a collection of your body parts. Appreciate your husband’s desire as God-given and not something dirty. For some of you, this will take baby steps, such as being naked in the dark and progressing to being naked under the covers, and then progress to having the lights on.

4) Flirt!

Work on intentionally being more flirtatious with your husband. Work your way up to flirting in a more explicitly sexual manner than you have before. It will delight your husband and build your confidence – and confidence is very attractive. Send your husband flirtatious text messages or put notes in his briefcase. Be bold! Even if you don’t follow through later, most husbands appreciate the gesture. There are also private messaging apps for couples, such as “Couple“.

5) Choose for him

Get your husband’s input on your clothing, lingerie and/or sleeping attire. I understand that this feels risky! But when you dress in ways you know he finds appealing and let him know when you choose especially for him – it will bless him enormously. Feeling brave? Ask your husband to choose what you sleep in. Feeling really brave?  Let your husband pick your entire outfit every day for a week like this woman did.

6) Take positive steps

Take small steps that make you feel good about yourself and your appearance, but don’t do it out of shame or in order to “fix” yourself. You aren’t “broken,” and shame is a terrible motivation for change.

You might consider working on your overall health. A healthy diet and regular exercise are always a good idea and will make you feel better in general. Pay more attention to how you dress. Choose attire that makes you feel pretty and accentuates your best features. Try out a new hairstyle or color. Have a manicure or pedicure. But remember, be you. Don’t try to be someone else.

7) Get the Facts

There is a great amount of falsehood in the world today when it comes to beauty. Remember, the women you see in magazines and movies don’t actually exist. The goal of all advertising is to make you feel inadequate and portray you as “less than” in order to get you buy their particular product. It’s all a lie.

One prime example of falsehood is breast size. Despite what you see everywhere, bigger is not better. Research has shown that a “C” cup is actually the size most preferred by men (and women). It’s notable that the average cup size in the US happens to be C. And the second most preferred size is “B.” Ignore what you see in media and advertising!

8) Stop Comparing

I know this is a big ask. But really, comparison is poison. You are uniquely you, and you don’t need to strive to be like someone else. I recently came across a blog by Heather Creekmore, Compared to Who,  whose entire mission is to help Christian women develop a healthy self-image. You will realize that you are not alone and discover some interesting facts in “ What Women Really Think of Their Bodies. ”

9) Develop your Inner Beauty

Most of the suggestions in this list focus on outward appearance because that’s where most women struggle most. But don’t forget to care for your inner self. Feed your spirit with time in worship and prayer and the Word. Spend time letting God love on you and feeling his delight in you. Chris, my blogging friend at The Forgiven Wive, recently wrote about this in her post “Experience God.” Feed your soul as well, with activities that make you come alive and feel more like your true self. See my post “10 Ways to Feed Your Soul.”

10) Choose to Believe By Faith

There are many times in our Christian walk where we have to rely on faith when we can’t comprehend the truth. Believing your husband finds you beautiful will often require faith, just like we choose to believe in the goodness and love of God, even when we don’t feel it.

 

For some the journey toward a healthy, positive self-image will be a long one, others may see a quick turnaround. As you see progress, enjoy the increased intimacy in your marriage that will likely result. Relish the freedom and joy that can grow to take the place of bondage and pain.

Do it for your own sake and for the sake of your marriage. Start today.


Some of my other posts on this topic:
Further encouragement from some of my female marriage blogging friends:

6 Things Wives Need to Know About Their Body Image Struggles

Your body image issues may be hurting you more than you realize.

A Wives Only Wednesday Post

Fearfully and wonderfully made

A few months ago, some fellow male marriage bloggers and I were interviewed for the podcast “Sex Chat for Christian Wives.” The question for the episode was, “We [wives] see all of our flaws, and then you tell us we are beautiful. How do you [husbands] see past our flaws?” In the episode (listen to it here) the husbands respond and the ladies unpack their responses.

Since listening to the podcast I’ve been wanting to circle back around to the important topic of body image because I believe the issue has a profound influence on almost every marriage. I know it has on mine. It’s taken years for us to more fully understand just how much.

Today I’m going to examine the impact for wives. In my next Men Only Monday post I’ll address husbands.

So let’s begin by looking at some potential problems caused by a wife’s negative body image.

Your Negative Body Image…

 

1 …Blocks Genuine Intimacy

If you do not believe your husband finds you beautiful, that he could not possibly be attracted to your body, then you may wrongly believe his desire for sex can only be caused by his physical urges and not by his love and desire for you.

This is a subtle but important way that your negative self-image can prevent you from being open and vulnerable, which is necessary for you to fully enjoy your husband’s affection. It makes you believe a lie that can steal your joy and surrender. It reduces sex to a physical act in your mind and prevents the genuine intimacy that God designed into the sexual union.

2 … Kills Your Sex Drive

Fellow marriage blogger Bonny Burns, in her libido survey results, found that the number one negative effect on sex drive for wives was “I don’t like the way my body looks.” While there are many causes of low libido, self-loathing is certainly not going to help put you in the mood or enable you to respond positively to your husband’s sexual advances.

3 … Falsely Accuses Your Husband

I believe many women who strongly dislike their bodies wrongly believe the lie that their husbands would rather have sex with a more attractive woman but is stuck with you. The effect of this accusation, even if it is never spoken, will keep you from receiving and enjoying your husband’s delight in you.

4 … Builds a Wall Between You

When you continually refute your husband’s claims of admiration and appreciation for your beauty, it not only a discourages him, but it actually builds a wall between you. Eventually, out of frustration, he may cease from trying to convince you of his true feelings about your appearance, and this will further feed the lies you are telling yourself. At times I have stopped complimenting my wife out of frustration but I’ve learned that she still wants to hear it, even if she doesn’t receive it well.

5 … Keeps You Trapped in Shame

It is almost impossible for intimacy and freedom to coexist with shame. When you feel shame about your appearance, you cannot truly enjoy freedom in your sexual relationship. You’ll be inhibited in initiating and won’t be able to be playful in intimacy. Hiding yourself from your husband, when he desires to have all of you, just as you are, means that neither of you can enjoy the freedom and delight of belonging totally to one another, without any hindrances.

6 … Is Self-Fulfilling

When you hate your body, it is virtually impossible for you to exude the kind of self-confidence that is so tremendously attractive to your husband. In truth, “sexiness,” if you’ll allow me to use that term, has much more to do with confidence and attitude than with physical attributes.

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that your negative body image can harm your marriage. I say this not to shame you but to motivate you to take action to deal with this problem. So if you find yourself facing this issue (and most women do to more or less of an extent), what can you do about it? That’s for my next post.

Come back tomorrow for “10 Ways to Overcome Body Image Issues.” You can be sure not to miss it by signing up to get posts in your inbox .

 

4 Things Your Husband Wants You To Know About Your Appearance

You are going to have a hard time believing these. Believe them anyway. 

Feel beautiful

In the past week, I read several good posts by female bloggers addressing the important topic of a body image. These were all written by women and all for women. I thought I would chime in and add a male perspective to this discussion.

I’ll point you specifically to the blog “Hot, Holy and Humorous,” which has two posts that are both excellent. The first, “Facts and Figures,”  gives some data to back up the fact that what you think is average appearance is probably not average. She encourages wives to love the body God gave them. The second post, “Husbands – Help Us Feel & Be Beautiful,”  is obviously directed at husbands, explaining how they can help their wives’ win body image battle.

In a similar vein, I did a post last summer directed at husbands, “Your Wife is in a Body Image Battle,” that continues to be quite popular, even a year later. It’s a must-read for husbands.

Today, however, I want to specifically address wives and give you a little insight from your husband’s viewpoint.

1) Your husband wants you to feel beautiful.

Yes, I know there are exceptions, but any good-willed husband wants his wife to feel attractive, even if he isn’t very good at saying the right things at the right times to help you feel that way. That also means he wants you to believe him when he does pay you a compliment instead of trying to refute it. Instead, make a habit of thanking him.

2) Your husband already knows the parts of your body you don’t like.

There is no point in repeatedly pointing out every flaw, every time you dress and undress, as if you are trying to convince him to just accept the fact that you really are an ugly duckling. He isn’t going to accept it. And you really don’t want him to do you? Stop the negative self-talk; it only reinforces your wrong thinking.

3) He likes your body.

Whether you are fully clothed, in frilly lingerie or completely naked he likes to look at you. He is a visual creature, so let him look! Encourage him to look by dressing and/or undressing in front of him. Pick clothing or lingerie that you know he finds alluring on you – even if you don’t necessarily agree with him on that point. Have sex with the lights ON, and learn to be “naked without shame” before your husband (this is a term I use that refers back to God’s original intent for couples back in the Garden of Eden.)

4) Your husband will be attracted to you as much by your confidence as by your appearance.

This may be the toughest one and is probably the most important. Doing some of the things above will help you with the “appearance of confidence,” but I encourage you to go even further. It requires going beyond believing that your husband thinks you are beautiful, beyond stopping the negative self-descriptions, and beyond letting him enjoy looking at you. It requires a new way of thinking about yourself and your body. Loving your body, imperfections and all, is the very foundation of confidence.

 

It’s not likely that a single blog post is going to transform your self-image or get you to love your body and see it the way your husband does. But the first step is to determine in your mind to do something about your body image issues for your own sake and the sake of your marriage. It’s time to do battle!

For a little further reading and inspiration, see the article “20 Reasons Why You Should Love and Appreciate Your Body,” on YourTango.com (Caution: YourTango is not written from Christian world view – browse with discretion)

Husbands, did I miss something above that you want your wife to know about her body image?

Choose to Lose the Shame

This is the fourth in my series on choices that lead to The Path of Intimacy. Go here to see where this started and get a complete list of the related posts in this series. Today’s post closely relates to my last two, choosing Trust and Transparency in your marriage, so go back and read those if you haven’t yet.

There is another choice to be made that impacts your ability to live with trust and transparency toward your spouse. That choice involves shame.

What is shame?

Shame is the painful emotion caused by an overwhelming sense of guilt, embarrassment, and unworthiness. Shame is what drives us hide ourselves. Look what happened back in the Garden of Eden after the fall, when the paradigm of being “naked without shame” (transparency) gets replaced by a paradigm of shame:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”       Genesis 3:7-10

Shame causes us to run FROM God and hide instead of TO Him with our weakness and inadequacy. As we see in this passage, shame creates an atmosphere of fear instead of trust. When we mess up, we run for the fig leaves. But, instead of hiding in shame, God wants us to draw near to him without hesitation or hindrance, knowing that we are fully loved, just as we are, completely cherished and accepted by him through the finished work of the cross.

Shame destroys intimacy with God. Shame destroys intimacy in marriage.

Shame is a powerful human emotion. It’s one of Satan’s main weapons in attacking our relationship with Jesus. Shame will cause us either to accuse our selves or to excuse ourselves by blaming another, neither of which is helpful. Shame can keep a marriage trapped in fear, distrust and secrecy. But how do we choose to lose the shame?

Let’s consider what the opposite choice might be? You might guess that transparency is the opposite of shame. You might guess that it’s pride. Close, but not quite.

The opposite of shame is glory

It’s a little-used word today, especially when we talk about people. Maybe we don’t have so much trouble attributing glory to God, but humans? I say yes!

You see, shame has to do with disgrace, but glory has to do with grace. To live in shame is to live in darkness, hiding in the shadows, but glory allows us to live in the light, out in the open. Shame leads to dishonor, doubt and fear, but glory leads to confidence, delight and a sense of honor.

We were made in the image of God; we were made to be glorious.

But how do we choose to operate in the place of glory instead of the place of shame? Here are a few ideas:

  • It is unconditional, sacrificial love that makes the way for us to be glorious, despite our weakness and failings. Believe that love is at the core of all your spouse says and does, even when it doesn’t always appear that way.
  • Grace, grace, grace. Give it generously. Receive it thankfully. Learn to see your self and your spouse through the eyes of Christ. This one is huge!
  • Never, ever use shame to manipulate or punish each other. It never really gets you what you want anyway.
  • Desire intimacy more than perfection (in your self or in your spouse) and realize that condemnation puts you quickly onto the Path of Separation. Deal with issues in a way that preserves the connection with your spouse.

Most of all , you have to believe that you were made for glory. Not so sure? Take a look at how your Bridegroom, Jesus, sees you:

…that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:27

Shame causes you to become insecure and self-absorbed, and the corresponding fear causes you to be self-protective and to hide your true self. Fear and shame are evil step-sisters. Fear and shame work together to prevent and maybe even destroy intimacy in your marriage.

Choose to lose the shame. Choose glory instead.