Doin' It Halfway Since 1996

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

Tag Archives: Body Image

Just a woman at Panera

We happened to be at the entrance at practically the same time.

She wore all black, a sleeveless top, flowing black pants, and cute little wedges. Her designer sunglasses sat on top of her head. In her nose, a tiny diamond stud.

She didn’t look at all like the sort of woman who would be struggling with an infant in a car seat, but she was.

I remember all too well the awkwardness of those infant car seats, so I opened the door for her.

It must have been enough. Because in the few minutes it took for the three or four people ahead of us to order their food, I heard a very condensed version of her life story.

It started as an innocent conversation.

“Today would be a nice day to tan.”

“Hmmm. It is a nice day outside.”

“Oh, I never tan outside. . . ”

From tanning, to body image, to being too fat to wear her pre-pregnancy clothes, to her lousy husband who told her she needed to lose weight, to how she used to starve herself to be skinny, to how she knew she needed to exercise but hated to go to the gym because she was either judged by skinny young girls or hit on by creepy old guys, to how she wanted to be skinny again so her husband would stick around, to how she didn’t want to be divorced, but that he didn’t love her, but that she didn’t want to be divorced, to how awful he was too her, to how it’s gotten her down, to how she has depression, to how she’s not suicidal, but how she has depression and her mom has it and her brother has it . . .

I nodded and listened. Because she barely took a breath between sentences.

Her baby, smiled and cooed in the car seat. With beautiful, big, baby blue eyes.

The few words I was able to get in were, “You have to be healthy for you and not let anyone else tell you who you are or should be.”

Would you share all those things with a complete stranger while waiting in line at Panera? I know I wouldn’t. I wasn’t sure why she did.

I stood there a little uncomfortable, but more concerned. This woman needed something.

She needed someone to tell her that it was ok to be her. That she was important. That she mattered.

I can only hope that I conveyed that in the few minutes we shared.

Because as quickly as our conversation started, it ended when our food was delivered and she said, “Well, have a great day!”

And that was it.

She and her baby were gone.

I was left standing there, holding my Thai chopped chicken salad, wondering just what happened.

And I prayed. Because I didn’t know what else to do. I prayed for her situation. I prayed that she would know her value. I prayed for her baby.

She shared more in five minutes than most people will share in a lifetime. Maybe because she felt like she could tell a complete stranger. Maybe I looked like I wouldn’t judge. Maybe because I opened the door for her. Maybe she would have told anyone and I just happened to be the person who was there. I really don’t know.

I don’t know why. But she felt like she could tell me that. So she did. And I just listened.

I don’t know if I’ll see her again. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget her.

Dear World

Dear World,

Something happened yesterday.

My sweet little girl, the one who made me a mother, the one who received my undivided attention for a time, the one who I has been my parenting guinea pig, looked at me matter-of-factly and said, “Mommy, you’re fat.”

I was shocked. I was disgusted. I was floored. But not in the ways you might think.

I was shocked that she has already determined the difference between skinny and fat and has learned that you say that skinny is the more desirable of the two. I was disgusted because I know exactly why she thought it was okay to say that to me. She has heard me say it. I’m the one who gave her the idea, the words, to tell me I was fat. How many times in her five and a half year old life has she heard me say, “I’m fat” or “I’m so ugly” or “I need to lose weight”? She heard the words straight from my own mouth. I was floored because it woke me up to the reality that you have been a lousy lover.

I have eaten your lies. They’ve made me feel inferior and worthless and ashamed. Here are some of the things you told me:

You can’t fit into size 2 jeans and that’s bad.

Why don’t you try this diet? You NEED to lose weight.

You’re hair’s turning gray, you’d better color it before someone thinks you’re old.

Your house doesn’t look like the ones on HGTV. Your friends won’t like you if they see it like this.

It’s been three months since you had that baby and you still haven’t lost the weight. That’s disgusting.

The true measure of your worth is what you look like on the outside. And you don’t look good.

I gave you advice on and in parenting magazine and in all those books you read and you didn’t follow the rules to a T. You’re a bad mother.

You don’t look like you belong on the front of a magazine, so you’re ugly.

I see a wrinkle. It’s okay (and most necessary) to spend hundreds of dollars on that new anti-aging creme because getting old is BAD.

These are the things you need to worry about and obsess about.

I’m not laying all the blame at your feet. I was a willing participant in this relationship. I chose to believe your lies. I’ve wasted years trying to reach some unattainable, impossible, imaginary standard you put before me. You did a good job distracting me. You did a good job sucking me into thinking that my worth was dependent on how you value me.

And you made me forget. You made me forget the one who made me, who loves me, who calls me his own. I let you distract me from his truth that tells me:

You are to clothe yourself with Christ Jesus (Romans 13:4).

You’re made in MY image (Genesis 1:27).

Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness (Proverbs 16:31).

My Father’s house has many rooms and I’m going to prepare a place for you (John 14:1-3).

You are my child (John 1:12-13).

Do not worry about what you will wear or what you will eat. I feed the birds. I dress the lilies of the field. I know you need these things and I will provide (Matthew 6:25-32). Seek MY kingdom first (Matthew 6:33).

You are to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), not to the world (Romans 12:22).

All scripture is God-Breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training [your children] in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Your beauty is not marked by the clothes you wear, your hairstyle, or jewelry (1 Peter 3:3), but true beauty that doesn’t fade is that of a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4).

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30).

So world, I may have believed your lies in the past. Belief in those lies may have taken years from me. I may have taken your lies to heart and said them out loud to myself. But not anymore.

I won’t let your lies come out of my mouth and into the minds of my daughters anymore. I will tell them the truth about who I am, who they are. When they grow up, you’ll try to tell them the lies you have told me and I believed. And they will laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of it all. They will know what true beauty is. And they will know that your definition of beauty is severely lacking.

So, I’m breaking up with you, World. We’re through. I’ve had enough of your abuse. I’m done trying to get you to love me back.

I’ve got to go now. I need to sit at the feet of my Father. He has a lot to tell me about myself. He has truth to feed me. Your lies have left me thirsty and malnourished. It’s time for some real food.

Most Sincerely,


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