Hello hello my lovely friendlikins! Apologies for being MIA! I have had very little sleep; resulting in much tiredness and even sickness, and hence I have not had the energy nor spark. But after a few days rest including plenty of crocheting, my spark has returned and so here we go...
This morning whilst at a lovely book-cafe (the best kind of cafes) with Mel, somehow the idea of image came up – and low and behold when I started reading ‘Battles Christians Face’ by Vaughan Roberts. The first chapter is on... you guessed it, ‘Image’. What do you think of when you hear the word image? Do you think of photographs? Maybe the media? Or do you think of how you are portraying yourself to the world? Have a little think about it. And check this out. Do you care about what others think about you? How much does that affect your choices in life, whether it be your haircut, the clothes you wear, the friends you make, or the job you desire? When will you be completely happy, content and satisfied? How do you know you’ve made the right decision? I’ve thought about this quite a bit... and here is something I wrote a couple of weeks ago when asked to think about fashion, image and beauty:
Body image, Fashion and Beauty
I think it’s really important that we consider the issues of body image, fashion and beauty, as the media has such an impact and effect on us, often in a negative way which was particularly expressed by Melinda Tankard Reist when she came to speak about our toxic culture of sexualisation.
As someone who has grown up since about yr 7 reading and looking at magazines, I can now see in hindsight that they have had an impact on my life. The images of thin, beautiful models and content about dieting and looking your best had a pretty big impact on my life. It made me place an importance on how I looked and dressed and what weight I had, and what clothes I wore. If you didn’t have what was ‘in’ then you weren’t cool. The funny thing is that I never really shared these desires with anyone, not even girl friends. I guess being Christian I knew that I shouldn’t value these material things and worldly ideals, so I kept it to myself so that no one would judge me. But really you don’t need to say anything, because your actions reveal your motives and your priorities. I think it’s important to share our values, even if they are not full of integrity – so that we may be open and honest and be able to hold one another accountable for what areas we are weakest.
Magazines impacted me to the point that I was having anorexic and bulimic thoughts and tendencies. Like always thinking about what I ate and how much, or emotionally eating without control and then wanting to throw up, but knowing that it was bad for me – so 99% of the time I didn’t try, but would bash myself up with negative thoughts instead.
Some things that I have found helpful over the years are to not spend too much time, if any reading or flicking through magazines – particularly avoiding ones which talk about sex or have nude images. Images in magazines, movies and anywhere in the media have a huge effect on us, and so the less we look at them, the less we will think about them, and the less we will be impacted. I have now migrated to mostly buying Frankie magazine – which inspires me with my craft, is big on looking after the environment and doesn’t influence you to starve yourself or wear see-through mini-skirts.
I think essentially it comes down to the issue of whether we are content – content with how we look, our weight, physical appearance and characteristics, and what clothes we wear. With the media telling us that we won’t be happy without the latest lip gloss, diet or hairstyle, then we are going to feel constantly inadequate, and feel that we need to spend lots of time, money and effort into looking and so ‘being’ our best. As Christian women we need to get out attitudes, perspective and priorities in the right place, which is focused on our Lord. I think this means that we focus on all the wonderful things that we have in Christ, and the fact that he has made us wonderfully and beautifully in his image, and that we don’t ‘need’ the latest anything – all we need is Jesus. I think this is a good foundation to start with.
The next thing to think about is how much time, money and effort you put into body image, fashion and beauty – I think writing out exact dollars and times will help us to see the true nature of how impacted we are by our culture.
After evaluating our lives, we can analyse how much of that money and time is a waste – I think this depends on each person, and what they are convicted to give up (that which is unnecessary).
Another thing I think is important to think about and work on is comparing ourselves and judging others based on appearance. There is more than meets the eye – and God cares about our characters, not what we look like. And so I think it’s valuable to look at passages that talk about judging and also knowing who we are in Christ, how God see’s us, and what God thinks is important to focus on rather than our appearance.
We know that we are supposed to be careful with what we wear, to not distract the guys by wearing anything see-through, low-cut, mini or tight– but what does this look like in practice? Does that mean that we have to walk around in thick, long, loose turtle-necks?! I sure hope not! And what about costs and the impact the fashion industry is having on the environment? And the use of ingredients tested on animals with beauty products? I think these are necessary issue to think through.
God has provided us with brains, and we have the added awesome bonus of the Holy Spirit, so we can listen to God’s guidance on such issues and use his wisdom and discernment. There are plenty of cheap, environmentally sound, stylish and quality fashion and beauty products out there if you know where to look.
· Bible – of course! : )
· Op shop – cheap clothes
· Markets – cheap clothes
· Body shop – good for environment and help out 3rd world countries
· Etsy – hand-made, vintage anything
· Frankie magazine – environmentally sound brands
· Melinda Tankard Reist – probably knows a thing or 2/links to people who do
And so it doesn’t matter what clothes we wear, what car we drive or anything – for none of it matters! Personally I find that it’s a huge relief off my shoulders. I can go through life not caring about those things, which can bring you down when you don’t have them. Roberts says, “I do not need to keep on chasing after the acceptance of others; the Creator of the universe has already accepted me”, “and loves me as I am”. My status is found in being right with God, finding my new identity in Jesus as his new creation! And we can have confidence and security in knowing that, “God is committed to changing us so that our behaviour increasingly fits our new identity”. We don’t need to worry about anything, because God’s in control and promises to make us more like Jesus if we believe in Him! And so I want to live life reflecting God well, to represent him, proclaim him, glorify and worship him!
Until next time,
Your friend Liz : )