“Don’t worry. You’ll fill out.”
I can’t remember who told me this, but I held onto it like a God-breathed promise. I wanted to feel full. Filled-out. Like a Build-a-Bear teddy. Freshly fluffed.
I know this will make your eyes roll. But believe me when I say, in middle school, I felt—and was told—that I was too skinny.
It didn’t matter that skinny girls thrived on every TV show and Cosmopolitan issue. All it took was my childhood friend’s mom to sit back, squint at my half-eaten dinner, and say:
“Rachel, god. You need to put on some weight.”
I hated it. I wanted to look normal. I wanted my friends to stop putting their hands on my waist and saying, “It’s like two inches!” I wanted that girl in the locker room to never call me “skinny as hell” again. I wanted to ‘fill out’ clothes.
Eventually I did. Thanks to puberty and beer.
But then I went from caring about my body too much to not caring at all.
I drank too much. I gorged on whatever I felt like eating. I put myself through twenty-hour days with espresso as my only fuel. I let guys I didn’t know put their hand on the small of my back.
I didn’t care. My body didn’t matter to me.
In my head, I thought caring about my body meant feeling low about it. I thought it meant feeling and believing I’m not ‘full.’
So it felt safer to not care at all.
But since then, I’ve learned that caring about your body is a Christian thing to do. How could it not be? We are called to glorify God in our bodies*
That means a lot of things. It means turning away from sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6:13). It means keeping yourself from eating and drinking in excess (Prov. 23:21). It means caring for your body like you care for the apartment that you’re renting.
I don’t believe I own my body.
My body is a gift from God that I’m called to steward in a way that glorifies Him.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own. 1 Cor. 6:19.
A Christian’s “actions should be motivated by a conviction that the body is a gift.” Nancy Pearcey writes in her book Love Thy Body:
“Biblical morality expresses a high view of the dignity and significance of the body…We have a stewardship responsibility before God to treat it with care and respect.”**
So what does loving your body look like? Does it mean dressing modestly? Does it mean not fixating on outward appearances? Does it mean nurturing it or pushing it to its limits?
I’m still learning every day. As Savvy pointed out to me, how to take care of your body is different for everyone.
But I’m happy that I don’t hate my body anymore. Instead, my body is a big deal to me. What I do with it. How I treat it. How I let others treat it.
*1 Cor. 6:20
**Pearcey, Nancy. Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. Jan. 2, 2018.