30 days of self love – do we idolize our bodies?

Posted: September 6, 2010 at 8:00 am

Gooood morning! Time for another 30 DSLR post. :D I cannot believe it hasn't even been a full week yet! Let's see what more the 30 DSLR will bring us. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on today's topic, just like every day. Yesterday was especially touching to read your comments after sharing so deeply. Your comments all pull at my heartstrings.

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How much do we really value our bodies? We may say we don’t, but when taking a closer look at our actions we may find differently. We may even claim we “hate” our bodies, yet we still obsess over them. We spend countless hours of our lives thinking about how our butt looks, checking our hair in the mirror, running our hands over our stomach, or trying to find the best tool out there to help us look good.

Taking care of ourselves and wanting to present ourselves in a suitable manner does not act as the root of the problem. Placing more emphasis on our looks over our character opens up many avenues for self-doubt and lack of caring for our inner selves. In life, we should not have idols. I use the word “idol” to describe something we focus on more than necessary and that inhibits us from experiencing the things in life meant to fulfill us.

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Our bodies become idols when we can’t enjoy a night out with friends because we feel too concerned with the fit of our jeans. Our bodies serve as idols when we spend time in the gym to look better instead of feel healthier. Our bodies act as idols when we can’t comfortably allow a loved one to touch us without negative thoughts playing in our minds. Our bodies turn into idols when we have difficulty focusing on our work, surroundings, conversations, etc because we wonder if we’ll ever lose that last 5 pounds or look as good as (insert celebrity persona here). Our bodies are idols whenever we allow them to become the defining factor of our lives, instead of our relationships, passions, hobbies, and values.

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We lose the chance to enjoy life when we refuse to look past our bodies. I loved this quote that sparked discussion on my favorite radio show awhile ago - “Don’t look for yourself in the mirror. Look at yourself”. Your body does not determine you. It’s simply what you look like. What matters is what’s on the inside. So when you look in the mirror, or think about your physical appearance, don’t dwell on it. Simply look at it and move on (without forgetting the gifts of the body though ;) ). When looking for yourself and your worth…look to the more defining qualities you possess. Your intrinsic beauty, what others see in you, what you give to the world, and more. Don’t let your body play the leading part.. It’s simply the costume for the star of the show. The real YOU!

What ways have you put too much emphasis on your body? How can you change that?

Quote to Reflect On
You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body. ~
C.S. Lewis

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78 Comments to “30 days of self love – do we idolize our bodies?”
  1. Kia says:

    I am interested in joining the email list for this.

  2. This is so beautifully written. It’s true- healthy bodies should never make us unhappy. Do you think you could add me to the email list for this?

  3. this is so true. i don´’t want to spend my life worrying about my imperfections so much that i dont ENJOY my life! it is so easy to spend HOURS thinking about things that are just NOT IMPORTANT and to let your life pass by you. Not that trying to be healthy isn’t important but if you are freaking out over the menu, you miss your quality time with your friends. If you spend your time freaking out about your beach body, you lose the smell of salt in the air, the sand in your toes, the presence of God around you. Life is simply TOO SHORT for this!!!

  4. I like your definition and examples of idols, it makes so much sense!
    Another great topic Tina!

  5. [...] be sure to check out Tina’s 30 DRSL if you haven’t [...]

  6. Astrid says:

    I use to hate the mirror. I had horrible skin and had a lot of trouble seeing me through that layer. I would cancel dates and other social activities, because I didn’t want people to have to look at me. I was idolizing my outer appearance, just like you said. Now I see myself in the mirror and I love what I see there. I see more than my looks, I see me, and I see everything that means.
    I love the idea of your body being a costume for life. This makes it seem so much more fun!

  7. Heather says:

    wow, that quote is a HUGE statement that i LOVE. seriously though, there really isn’t a better way to think about this subject. It’s overused, but true beauty really is on the inside. and if you think about it, you see a pretty girl who ends up being totally rude, you don’t like her. you see someone who might not be considered physically beautiful, but she has a heart of gold and knows how to love people? everyone wants to be around her!

    love this post :)

  8. I love what you write about our bodies becoming our idols in an unhealthy way. So true. It’s so much more important to focus on the things that truly matter– personal relationships with family, friends, and ourselves.

  9. Penny Lane says:

    Oh so true. Last year I did a study colled No Other Gods, All through this study in the group we did not talk once about our bodies being Idols before God, but they so were. Before we sat down to dinner we would discuss workouts, then we would discuss diets and the food we were prepared to eat. It is so easy to forget in everyday life that even our bodies are Idols before our God. Oy! Girl you make me think, and so early in the morning;)

  10. Jolene says:

    It’s so true – I totally get wrapped into what my body is NOT instead of what it IS, and completely short-change everything I work so hard for. I have a problem comparing myself to others too, and that’s a habit I’m trying to break as well. Great post, well-written, as always!!

  11. homecookedem says:

    This made me think of something I think about often when I meet up with friends or go to a party… When I’m there I often think to myself, “Why did I look so long at my face in the mirror before I left? Why did I spend 30 minutes deciding what to wear? Why did I change shoes 10 times? Why did I worry about what people would think about my butt?” Because once I’m there, I always have lots of fun just talking and spending time with people. And my family and friends are so great… they do NOT care about the way I look, they just want to be with me – make-up or no make-up!

  12. That silly little picture of the mirror with the quotation really hit home with me!:

    “The reason I spend so much time looking in the mirror isn’t because I’m admiring myself, it’s because I’m trying to see just what it is you see in me. So far no luck.”

    I always marvel how much easier my life would be if I could see myself as my boyfriend sees me: perfect just as I am. I wish I could bottle his adoration and inject it into my own brain, ha!

  13. Lauren says:

    HOW do you know what I do every morning?! :) I am constantly checking every angle of my body in the mirror, seeing where some extra flab appeared the night before under my chin from eating too much. It’s a terrible habit. Just last night I was eating a (delicious!) dinner with my parents and husband and thought, oh geez, how much am I going to have to work out to burn off these calories?

    I’m telling myself – enough is enough! Our physical shape does not define who we are as beautiful, strong women, our character, our self-worth. I should eat to enjoy my food and the wonderful company, and work out to feel strong and empowered by what my body can do – NOT because I feel guilty about eating some awesome apple pie.

    Thanks Tina :) I’m meeting my best friend for cupcakes this afternoon and we are going to enjoy every single bite :)

    • Tina says:

      Haha! I know because I’ve done it too. And still catch myself at times. ;)

      I hope you have a great time with your friend and that cupcake!

  14. Tina I have been spending too much time in my life worrying about my looks, trying to perfect my body, my eating, etc. But I know that what counts is on the inside. I am working on getting my insides beautiful too: reading more, getting to church, spending time with my husband, working hard at my job, etc.

    I know that when I feel “beautiful” on the inside I feel more beautiful on the outside too — because I am confident in who I am and what I am doing.

  15. Kati says:

    Love that CS Lewis quote!!

  16. This one is hard for me. I have a hard time accepting compliments from others and even my husband because I see the bad. I used to go to the gym more than spend time with friends. I used to find excuses to escape from anything because my body wasn’t perfect. I’m slowly learning my own self-love.

    • Tina says:

      It’s certainly a process. And for the compliments…I got to a place where I decided to force myself to say “Thank you” and nothing else. No reasons why my hair looks nice that day or whatever it may be. It’s HARD but eventually I got to where it became more natural.

  17. Ohh C.S. Lewis. He never fails to have the truest, most inspiring quotes. And that is a brilliant one.

    I always try to remember that at the end of my life, I’m not going to give two craps about what I LOOKED like. I’m going to want to know that I cultivated relationships, helped others, and most importantly – glorified God!

  18. Amber says:

    I love the C.S. Lewis quote! It’s so true! But definitely hard to live by. I have often been guilty of “idolizing” my body, spending too much time at the gym or out running trying to look better, not focusing on feeling better. I’m working to try to remedy the situation by focusing on health and wellness rather than looks and image. In general, I feel strongest and best right after a good, hard workout, not when I’ve spent hours on my hair and makeup. :)

  19. Camille says:

    I will admit, often I am critical on my own body. I have come to realize that some amount of criticism is normal, the key is knowing how to keep it in check. Now, when I look in the mirror, I try to focus on what my body does for me, instead of how it can be improved. If leading the lifestyle I enjoy means I don’t look like a super model, that’s fine by me!

    • Tina says:

      Very good point. Some criticism is to be expected. We are human after all. We just can’t let it consume us and affect enjoying life as a whole. If we use it to fuel healthier, better habits…great! Not so good if we use it to hide in insecurity.

  20. The Lewis quote is perfect! I love it!!! I was just talking to my boys about that a couple of weeks ago! I know, they are boys, but they need to hear that kind of stuff too. I have finally gotten to the point where I love what my body does for me. Not because I am working out or want it to look a certain way, but because I work with my body and see that it is really just a tool to get me from point a to point b. I have more of an appreciation for it and understand that I don’t have to look a certain way for me to feel good about me. Sure, I love working out and eating right because it feels good, but that is just a bonus! I will never be 6 feet tall, long and slender…but I am so ok with that because I am happy just being me!

    Have a great day Tina!

  21. “Your body does not determine you. It’s simply what you look like. What matters is what’s on the inside.”
    Such a simple concept.. and almost common sense. Yet none of us actually act like it.

  22. Michal says:

    I understand the CS Lewis quote much better after reading this. And it’s funny how right you are… I spend so much time annoyed at pop media for pushing unattainable body ideals on us, but there’s also an element of our own individual obsessing – they play into one another, but we have to address the issue on both levels.

    Thank you so much for doing this project, Tina :-)

  23. Lee says:

    I like that quote too. It’s very true; we’re so much more than just our outer body. Our body really is just the shell to much more.

  24. Ameena says:

    The older I get the more I realize that these things just don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I try to remember this and am getting better at it but I wonder if I’ll ever get to a point where I don’t think of insignificant things anymore?

  25. LOVE that CS Lewis quote! As an athlete I think I idolize my body in a different way. I focus on what it can do and can’t do and get really frustrated when I fail at something because I think it’s MY fault when I can’t do 10 pull ups or run faster or the heat wipes me out on my runs. I’m learning to stop beating myself up over what I can’t do and focus on what amazing things I CAN do!

  26. Julie says:

    I just saw your comment on my blog and I wanted to give you a hug and wishes that you get a little break today. Sometimes even just 5 minutes makes all the difference, don’t we both know it!

    Thinking of you.
    Our little girls are watching us so closely and we marvel in them – so entwined we are, even when we want to pull our hair out :-)

    I found this quote today and I thought it was marvelous ~

    “My mother is my mirror and I am hers. What so we see? Our face grown young again.” -Marge Piercy

  27. Hallie says:

    Hey darlin, I just wanted to pop in and say I am totally loving this series and these posts, even if I haven’t had time to comment on them. Keep it up! I think you’re tapped into something really special here. You’re helping so many people, including me!

  28. Shayna says:

    This is a good one. I live somewhere where I look different than everyone else. I am not petite. I don’t have babydoll skin. My hair is frizzy and curly. I grow body hair (the horrors). Most of this time, I’m ok with this. But sometimes, it’s really a stuggle (like when we have to take group photos and I’m bigger than everyone and feeling not as graceful). I wish I could give you my secret for chasing those insecurities away, but I haven’t found it yet :) Thank God it’s just sometimes and not all the time.

  29. Recently I went through photos of my mother, who had passed away several years ago. In my dismay there were very few photos or her and I (she was the one behind the camera.) But with this came the realization that there are very few photos of me and my daughter. Not because I was behind the camera, but because I didn’t like the way I looked. Mirrors weren’t my enemy, but photos were. Someday perhaps, my daughter will look back through the photos of her childhood, and wish there were more with the two of us. And you know, my favorite photos of my mom weren’t those where she looked her best, they are the photos that captured her soul – the silly way she sat, her eccentric clothing styles, her smile.

    I allowed my emphasis of my body (and my dislike of my body) to erase tangible mementos of times with my daughter. Now I am always trying to convince her to be in photos with me (cell phones are handy for this!), and while I still frown at my appearance, I smile at us together.

    • Tina says:

      This is so true! We shouldn’t hide from pictures or delete ones that catch a special moment because we don’t look our best. I’ve been guilty of that in the past too.

  30. Eliza says:

    I have spent the past decade examining, poking, and picking every pore and pimple on my face. I struggled with acne for almost all of this time, and even though my face has cleared up for the most part now, I become obsessive and anxious whenever I get a pimple.
    I have spent thousands of dollars on washes and masks and treatments, and even more on make up.
    When I get a pimple I pick at it until its worse, then try to cover it up. Then I spend all day trying to hold my hand discretely in front of it, and just generally being aware of it.

    Lately I’ve been using a bit of cognitive therapy on myself. When I begin to notice these obsessive thoughts, I try to remind myself that I am a beautiful person, and people see my face, not my pimple, when they look at me. I still wear makeup, and use pricey skin care products, but I’m getting better at not obsessing over minor imperfections.

  31. Taryn says:

    Oh my gosh, so much of this is true. We live in a society that wants us to turn our bodies into idols, that wants us to obsess about a perfection that does not truly exist in a general sense.

    I do try not to idolize my body–it is not me. It is not my personality. I do have my problems sometimes, but it’s not anything that should take over my life and dictate how I spend my time or how I behave.

    By the way, thanks for linking to my blog. I had JUST decided to start one when this project came about, so thank you for giving me something to write about everyday.

  32. [...] Our Bodies Posted on September 6, 2010 by tarynehanson Today’s topic for 30 Days of Self Love is one that I think everyone has a bit of a problem with. But it’s [...]

  33. Meg says:

    I love what you are saying about idolizing our bodies. I think that it’s a fine line between being healthy and fit and obsessing about making our bodies so completely flawless that nothing is more important. That quote by C.S. Lewis is just perfect for this post. At the end of the day, we are a soul first and a body second. Every day when I look in the mirror, I try not to look at what needs improvement, but at what I love. Bit by bit, I learn to love all of my body!

  34. “Our bodies are idols whenever we allow them to become the defining factor of our lives, instead of our relationships, passions, hobbies, and values.”

    How do you continue to hit the nail on the head day after day?

    I’ve found myself working out because I wanted to look better. Sure — I say it’s because it makes me FEEL good, but really, in the back of my mind is that thought: If I do this often enough I’ll get to my goal weight.”

    Heck, even this afternoon on the phone, I mentioned to the Boyfriend that I want to be a size 6. (Back when I was doing Atkins, at my low weight of 169 pounds, I had one glorious skirt — from Ross, so probably mis-sized — that was a 6.)

    Look for a post from me on this later today …

    • Tina says:

      I just sit down and stuff comes pouring out. I can only say its God using my hands to type the message He wants me to share. I even surprised myself with this post because when I sat down to right it I had no clue what specifically I wanted to say on the topic. Then, all of a sudden, I was done and it was the only message that would fit the topic. :)

    • I wrote my post.

      And I’m glad you’re inspired to write such thought-provoking posts.

  35. Marcia says:

    Guilty as charged! ;) I have come to terms with a lot of things about my body. My hair will NEVER do what I think it should. My belly will NEVER be flat and awesome again. ;)
    I have a daughter now, and these things have taken a back seat. I don’t have time or energy to dwell on that stuff anymore–I am too busy raising the first woman president! :)
    http://healthylivingadventures.blogspot.com/2010/09/30-days-of-self-love-so-we-idolize-our.html

  36. Sarah J says:

    Wow, this post really hit home for me. One thing in particular that you mentioned reminds me of something I struggle with all the time. My fiance loves to stand behind me and just rest his hands on my stomach or hips. I always ask him to stop because it makes me uncomfortable because I don’t want him to feel how “fat” they are.

    Every time I ask him to stop he tells me that he loves me and my stomach. I know he gets frustrated and feels bad when I ask him to stop. I have been trying to work on feeling more comfortable with myself in this situation in particular. This post definitely makes me think more about how I think about my body in general. I am beginning to remind myself that I am beautiful and that my amazing fiance and family will love me no matter how I look on any particular day.

  37. I’ve been working on a post about how our negative body image prevents us from doing things that we want to do, and so today’s post really hit home for me. I can remember all too many missed opportunities, forgone because of my self-doubt and fear about how others would perceive my body. Since I have started to love and appreciate my body, the world has truly opened up to me – as cheesy at that sounds.

  38. Julie says:

    I thought about another blogger a lot today as I pondered this topic. If you haven’t already heard of The NieNie Dialogues or haven’t heard the story of Stephanie Nielsen, please check out her video I posted up on my blog. She considers herself to be one of the luckiest girls ever. She is quite beautiful and I love her story and what it has taught her about herself.

  39. Ela says:

    A very quick post on this from me today – thank you so much again – tomorrow I should be more available

    love
    Ela

  40. steph says:

    Please add me to the email list!

    Wow, that is such a perfect quote you left us to reflect on. I was having such a bad day at the gym when I realized that my body image was the problem – I had to shift my perspective (always a hard thing to do). I am go glad you posted this quote because I will save it for future moments – that will undoubtably occur – when the body and mind are at a disconnect – when I must remind myself that to be strong and beautiful, its starts on the inside in order to transgress to the outside.

    Thank you!

  41. Kristy says:

    Unique Perspective! Enjoyed the mental stimulation :-)

  42. I have so much trouble seeing the good things about my body. I seem to concentrate on all the parts I don’t like and try to figure out how to make them the way I want them. If I could only let that go I bet I could be a healthier person

  43. Oh Tina. This one hits home for me.

    I can remember being in high school and knowing I had a roll hanging over my jeans. I’d fiddle with my shirt until I felt like it was somewhat hiding that stupid roll. I can remember getting ready for nights out with my girls, scared that I had a bump where it shouldn’t be…and yes, it DID ruin a few nights out. Even though I made sure I seemed confident, I really wasn’t.

    Now, sure, I still obsess over my stomach, but I never let it ruin my days. I accept that bump and move on. I’m not completely recovered, though…it’s a lifetime of obsession I’m trying to kick here, but I am. Slowly but surely. I try and remind myself that my tummy would be flatter had I not been given my two miraculous little girls. Which would I rather have? I think we all know the answer. ;) My girls! They, too, are a reason I’m trying to stop obsessing…I refuse to let them inherit my bad habit.

  44. [...] Welcome back from the holiday weekend! I look forward to hearing from all of you who unplugged again. Playing catch up? Here are the 30 Days posts from Saturday through Monday. TRUSTING YOUR BODY   /   LOVE FROM OTHERS   /   DO WE IDOLIZE OUR BODIES? [...]

  45. Cynthia says:

    I really LOVE this post. There was a time (and a lot of days there still are) where I actually avoid mirrors because I don’t like what I see. Now everytime I look at myself in a mirror, I mnake an attempt to find something I like and appreciate about myself. Thanks so much for this.

  46. Holly says:

    I LOVE the quote about looking AT yourself in the mirror, rather than for yourself. I’m afraid I often am guilty of the latter. It’s the same reason I don’t like the scale – why should this number (or my reflection in the mirror) determine who I am? Or really, determine how I feel about myself for the rest of the day? Great post, Tina!

  47. I’ve gotten behind with your awesome posts! seems like I have many wonderful posts to read tonight :)

  48. meghandonahue says:

    Home Run!!!!

  49. lu says:

    such an inspiration, that’s exactly what I need, thank You!

    this subject is a huge issue for me. I very often find myself uncomfortable around people and find it hard to actually enjoy myself because I’m afraid some pose I take might make me look fat, or someone hugging me might think I’m fat. it’s ridiculous, really, but it’s really strong inside my head. but the post gave me new motivation to feel comfotable with myself. I’ll try my best.

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