We’ve been taught to treat our bodies as sacred gifts from God. But what help has God promised us when we struggle to love our bodies and ourselves?
We’ve all had those days—or maybe even months or years—when we just aren’t happy with how we look. Maybe we wish we had fewer stretch marks or weighed a little less, or perhaps we wish we had the perfect hair and smile of our more-attractive roommate. Similarly, most of us have struggled to love ourselves as people, with all our quirks and supposed weaknesses. I’ve even felt the dreaded spiral of self-loathing leading to guilt for not loving myself, which then leads to more self-loathing.
In the article “Rethinking Beauty: A Gospel Perspective on Body Image,” Hannah DeTavis reminds us that “if we are constantly loathing our outward appearance, we may interrupt our inward connection to heaven.” Our bodies have spiritual significance, and how we think about them and treat them can affect our spirits.
A lot of spiritual truths can help us overcome negative self-image. For example, as we practice gratitude, we’re less likely to worry about little imperfections in our bodies. Similarly, as we focus on loving and serving those around us, we’re less likely to worry about our flaws (see Matthew 10:39). These remedies can help distract us from focusing on our bodies, but sometimes we need a more direct solution. Let’s look at an approach that tackles self-image struggles head-on.
A New View
A phrase in Preach My Gospel opened my eyes to how repentance can connect to body image: “Repentance includes forming a fresh view of God, ourselves, and the world.” With this definition, repentance applies very directly to body image—not because we should feel guilt for struggling to love our bodies but because Christ’s Atonement allows us to receive a fresh view of ourselves.
This perspective change has made all the difference for me. I can accept that the body image struggles I have are temptations from the adversary, not inherent flaws in me as a person. I can take those struggles and place them at the feet of the Lord and then plead for new eyes: ones that can see the work of the divine Creator in my body and myself.
For more insight, read Hannah DeTavis’s full article: “Rethinking Beauty: A Gospel Perspective on Body Image.”
—Madeline Paskett Hunter, Latter-day Saint Insights
FEATURE IMAGE BY ANDREA PIACQUADIO
Find more insights
Read “Feeling Good Enough: 3 Ways to Overcome Negative Self-Image,” by Marcus Paiz, for more advice on how to love yourself.
Read or watch Susan W. Tanner’s talk “The Sanctity of the Body” for insight on receiving the Lord’s image in your countenance.
Read or watch Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s address “To Young Women” to learn about other common struggles that young people experience.
Watch the video “Love Your Body” to see another young adult’s gospel journey in tackling body image issues.