No matter how confident we may feel as a woman, employee, wife, mother, or grandmother, the thought of putting on a bathing suit and wearing it in public can make even the most confident woman cringe in fear.
Maybe you’re familiar with the verse from Psalm 139:14 which says “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” But when it comes to wearing a bathing suit, we tend to forget that verse, and the only thing we know ‘full well’ is that we want to run for cover (or at least a swimsuit cover-up).
Body image is a hot topic in the media these days, and there are constant disagreements about what is and isn’t healthy, or whether it’s better to have no curves or full curves. But no matter how much talk is out there, there is one perception that seems to always come out on top – beauty means having a perfect body.
Not only is that worldly perception sad because it causes so many women and teens to have poor self image, but it is painfully untrue.
For a different perspective about the meaning of Psalm 139, let’s look at how Psalm 139:13-16 reads in The Message Bible.
“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul,I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”
I loved how this translation reminds us that God not only formed us in the womb. He shaped us – body and soul. He made us marvelous and He knows us inside and out. He sculpted us, bit by bit and has prepared a future for us… just the way we are. Although the world wants us to care more about the outside, God cares about the inside the most.
So if we know this, and believe God’s Word to be true, why do we stress ourselves into a tizzy over wearing a swimsuit? Why do we put off going swimsuit shopping until the last possible minute?
Why do we try on 47 suits before we find one we can live with? Why are we afraid to take off our cover-up in public? Why do we hate our bodies so much so that we’ll avoid activities we enjoy for fear of judgement and shame over imperfections?
I believe the answer lies in the trap of comparison. As soon as we compare ourselves to swimsuit models, we immediately start beating ourselves up for not being able to wear the tiny pieces of material and strings that stores now call a swimsuit. We compare ourselves to women younger than us, and feel inferior because our body has changed with childbearing and age. We compare ourselves to other women in our lives, always coming up inferior. We hold ourselves up to expectations of the media that are unrealistic and fake.
I wonder how much stress we could do away with during the swimsuit season if we adopted the mentality that we are going to enjoy summer, have fun at the beach, swim in the pool, partake in outdoor activities and feel confident in our own skin, even if we have areas of our body that we’re not in love with.
Overcoming body image concerns, especially in the summer, might seem like a lost cause but it can happen – and it starts with our spiritual soul, not our physical bodies. It takes work to change our physical body, and sometimes that is in our best interest and health. But it takes prayer to see ourselves the way God does instead of what we see in the mirror, and that is just as important.
If you have been battling a case of the bathing suit blues, below are a few suggestions to help you start being an overcomer of the blues:
1. We all have to wear a swimsuit every now and then, so even if the idea of wearing one horrifies you, buy a pretty bathing suit that fits your body well. Don’t worry about what size the tag says, instead focus on what you feel best in and what is most comfortable.
2. There are some beautiful coverups this season at budget friendly prices. Find one that you feel confident in. Don pretty hats and cool sunglasses if they also help you feel pretty.
3. Shift your focus from your body to what you enjoy. Don’t avoid having fun because you’re worried about the opinions of others.
If you love the water, focus on how it makes you feel. If you love laying at the pool, focus on the warmth of the sun. If you enjoy throwing the frisbee on the beach with your kids, concentrate on the fun you’re having and the sound of their laughter, and don’t worry about what other people think. Train your mind to focus on what really matters and things you enjoy. Don’t allow the enemy of our hearts rob you of enjoying time with your family doing what you love. Better to have fun than regrets.
4. Remember that nobody looks like a model. Even models don’t look perfect without camera angles, makeup, air brushing and photoshop, so let’s not hold ourselves to a standard that doesn’t really exist.
5. Change your mind set. Even though we feel like everyone is going to be checking us out at the pool and eye balling all of our flaws, they really aren’t. In fact, they are probably too busy worrying about their own. We are usually our biggest critic.
6. Eat healthy and exercise. Although we can’t attain perfection, we can feel confident and vibrant in the bodies we have if we take care of them. Avoid eating junk foods which cause fullness and bloating, and stick to fruits, vegetables and healthy foods. Allow yourself the pleasure of sweets occasionally, but don’t over do it. Exercise is proven to be a mood booster and it makes you feel great – so avoid procrastinating and commit to a regular regimen of activity.
7. Tuck Psalm 139:14 into your heart and carry it with you everywhere you go. Remember you have been shaped by a Holy God.
To enter to win, leave a comment with your answer to the question below.
What way can you approach swimsuit season differently this year and overcome the bathing suit blues?
Winner will be announced on Friday, July 12th.