Can I Buy a New Body?

We asked 25 friends, "Are you satisfied with your body?" They all said no.

Few women are pleased with their bodies. Many complain that they are too tall, too short, too thin, or too prone to gain weight. Others say their hair is too curly or too straight. There are those who hate their noses, christening them too big, too long, or too "pugged." And how many women yearn for bigger breasts, the symbol in American society of "sexy"? Many, if cosmetic surgeons are to be believed.

We look in the mirror and cringe, then look at someone else and think, If I had a body like that, I'd be satisfied. Think again. Actress Julia Roberts has a body to die for, yet she had a stand in for the nude scenes in Pretty Woman because her body wasn't "good enough." 1 Meg Ryan has an enviable body punctuated with an adorable smile. But Meg says of herself, "I think I'm kind of weird looking. If I could change the way I look, I'd like to have longer legs, smaller feet, a smaller nose..." 2

Why are we so critical of our bodies? One reason is because the media constantly bombards us with messages designed to produce body dissatisfaction. Svelte models endorsing fat free delights or exercise equipment suggest our bodies will never look good unless we buy their products. Merchandisers imply that if we want a beautiful body, we must purchase this bust-enhancing bra or that torso lengthening swimsuit. Magazine articles add to our body discomfort with headlines like, "Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days" or "Learn Beauty Secrets to Help You Look Like the Supermodels."

Another reason women are dissatisfied with their bodies is society's constantly changing beauty standards. In the Renaissance, round and rotund was the ideal. In the 60s, the perfect body was a Marilyn Monroe prototype: average height, blond, buxom, and curvy. Ten years later, curvy Marilyn was out, and tall, pencil thin. Twiggy was in. With such shifting standards, what's a body to do?

A third reason is that the current beauty standards are impossible to achieve. As we near the 21st century, the rules for a beautiful body are:

  • Thou shalt not age.
  • Thou shalt be thin.
  • Thou shalt have perfectly symmetrical, large, firm breasts.3

The standard is "Thou shalt not age," but we will age. The second law of thermodynamics states that everything moves downhill to a more disorderly state. After age 40, we've discovered, the speed of deterioration rivals records set at the Indianapolis 500! An article called "How Old Is Your Body?" reports this delightful tidbit: "Around age 30, muscle mass slowly begins to decline and is replaced by slow-burning fat." 4

The standard is "Thou shalt be thin," but we will gain weight. Women with hourglass figures often discover that their sand slides toward the bottom with the passage of time. Weight gain is a growing problem (pun intended). In 1984, 56 percent of adults over age 25 said they were heavier than the recommended weight for their body type. In 1998, this figure rose to 76 percent. 5 One article we read said the body "automatically gains one pound each year after age forty." 6 (Both of our bodies substantiate this statistic!)

The standard is "Thou shalt have perfectly symmetrical large, firm, breasts," but not all our breasts are large, and our breasts will sag. Romans 8:20 says creation is subjected to futility. In essence, creation is sagging; this includes our personal creation skin, muscles, even our once-perky breasts.

As long as we continue to listen to the world's messages about our bodies, we will never be satisfied with how we look. Let's face it. There are three billion women in the world who don't look like the supermodels and only seven who do. Instead of listening to the world's message, we need to listen to what God says. God's message is: "Rejoice in the body I gave you. Use it to honor Me and please your husband."

The view in God's mirror

"I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well" (Psalm 139:14).

I (Lorraine) desire to see myself through God's eyes, but I wrestle with a worldly mindset. Several years ago, I was disgusted with myself because I'd put on weight and my clothes were uncomfortably tight. I couldn't stand the thought of Peter touching my newly formed cellulite, and I sidestepped his attempts to be intimate. One night, in a moment of honesty, I admitted: "I don't feel sexy. I just feel fat." The roll around my stomach didn't bother Peter, but he realized it greatly inhibited me. He said, "Honey, your thinking about your body is wrong. I have an idea to help you. I am going to write Psalm 139:14 on a sheet of paper. I want you to tape this to the bathroom mirror, then stand in front of the mirror naked for a half-hour. Review each part of your body from the head down, and thank God that you are fearfully and wonderfully made."

Looking at myself naked was not my idea of fun (in my present state it was nothing short of frightening) but never being one to resist a challenge, I locked the bathroom door and shed my clothes.

Immediately my eyes went to the thickness around my waist, but I had promised Peter I would start with the top of my body and work my way down. I touched my hair. It is one of my best features. Thank you, God, for blessing me with such thick hair. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I prayed. I studied my face. True, there were more wrinkles than last year, but some of the tiny ones around my eyes had come from laughing. I had always liked my blue eyes. I marveled at the incredible gift of sight these two round objects afforded me. I closed my eyes in a prayer of conviction, Forgive me, God, for taking my sight for granted. When I opened them, again, I saw my body with new eyes. How creative God was! How did He think to put graceful feathery lashes at the edge of the eyelid? How interestingly He fashioned our noses to separate the eyes, and to act as a funnel for enjoying smells. I studied my ears, my teeth, my mouth and tongue. Oh God, I AM fearfully and wonderfully made.

I stayed in the bathroom for a long time, praising God for the remarkable weaving together of the body. I stroked the muscles in my arms, examined the joints and veins in my hands, praised God for His wisdom in choosing four fingers and a thumb to enable me to grasp objects. I touched my breasts and praised God for flowing sustenance from them to my children. I rubbed my hand over my not so flat stomach, but just below the stomach felt the scar from the C section of my first child. The stretch marks and extra inch around the waist were worthwhile exchanges for the two children that graced our home. I went over my body, then kneeled in praise: "God, forgive me. I've been focusing on all the wrong things. I've obsessed about trivia, when my body has been personally fashioned by You. I give thanks to You. Wonderful are Your works, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

God desires that we praise Him for the gift of our bodies, and that we accept who He created us to be. The message God sends about our bodies is, "Rejoice in the body I gave you. Use it to honor Me and to please your husband."

The beauty of a sensuous woman

It is difficult to use our bodies to please our husbands when we don't feel attractive or sexy. Let's take a look at these two words and see how they relate to being a sensuous lover.

What does it mean to be attractive? Webster defines attractive as "having the quality of attracting; having the power of charming or alluring; inviting; engaging, enticing." But it is difficult to feel attractive when we are obsessing about a new roll of fat or our size double A breasts. We try to laugh it off: "I'm so flat you could land airplanes on my chest" or "My legs look like tree stumps." But such degrading comments can sabotage our body image and cause us to feet unattractive when we are naked in the bedroom. We'd feel more attractive if our bodies looked a certain way, if we had a perfect "10" body. But Dr. John Gray, author of Mars and Venus in the Bedroom, says, "When a man is in love and turned on by his wife, he is also totally entranced by the feminine beauty of her body, regardless of where the media would rank it on a scale of one to 10. When he is in love with his wife, he experiences the perfection of her body for him." 7

The issue for you personally is what is attractive to your husband? Most men prefer women who are average weight but some men like women who are overweight. Others like the hard-body type. Some men like women with the glamour image and lots of makeup. Others prefer the natural look. Rather than seeking to please fashion critics, we should seek to please the man God gave us to love.

Your body, along with everything else that makes up you, attracted your husband to you. You allured him, captured him with your smile, eyes, body, intelligence, personality, all of you. Out of all the women in the world, he chose you. It wasn't just your body he liked, it was you. It doesn't matter if you are 4'11" and short-waisted, or 5'11" with long legs. If you do the most with what you have, your body will turn your husband on.

Let's take a look at the second word, sexy. According to Andrew Greeley, author of Sexual Intimacy, to be sexy is to be aware of your body as an instrument of playfulness and delight, to be able to communicate this awareness to your husband and give him the gift of your body for pleasure, delight, variety, and playfulness. 8

We're going to tell you a secret. It's better to be sensuous than to have a perfect "10" body. Delighting your husband with your breasts and giving him ecstasy (Proverbs 5:19), swaying your hips seductively and displaying your body before him (Song of Solomon 6:13 7:9) will cause him to revel in the joy of your body. It is God's gift to him. Your body is for him!

Our bodies are far from perfect. And they will continue to age, but we can learn to be experts at using them to intoxicate our husbands with delight. Listen and learn from Carolyn, a wise wife who will soon be 60.

As I age, the old body deteriorates. I've got stretch marks from three babies, cellulite and varicose veins. My breasts sag, wrinkles abound, but as my body has fallen, my expertise as a lover has risen. I really think my dear husband of 40 years still sees my body as it was when I was young, because he receives such pleasure from it.

Carolyn knew that nothing is as "sexy" as a woman who gives in to her sensuousness, a woman who enjoys sex and lets her husband know she loves to give and receive pleasure. Consider the following statement: "Nothing transcends the traditional definitions of beauty like the face and body of a passionately aroused woman." 9

The message God gives is good: "Rejoice in the body I gave you. Use it to honor Me and please your husband."

  1. "Mission Impossible," People Weekly, 3 June 1996, 73.
  2. Alanna Nash, "Marvelous Meg," Good Housekeeping, July 1998, 99. "Mission Impossible," 73.
  3. Elizabeth Austin, "The Pound-a-Year Problem," Self, January 1998, 109-11. "Snapshots," USA Today, 9 June 1998, sec. D, 1.
  4. Austin, "The Pound-a-Year Problem," 109-11.
  5. John Gray, Mars and Venus in the Bedroom (New York: HarperCollins, 1995), 63.
  6. Andrew M. Greeley, Sexual Intimacy (New York: Seabury Press, 1973), 86. Lisa Douglass, "Orgasms: The Science," New Woman, June 1998, 126.

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