Healing the Wounds of Body Image

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“You have girly hands”

I remember those words like they were spoken to me yesterday. I was a vulnerable young man in high school, and one of my classmates gravely wounded me. Those words changed the way I viewed myself. I became so insecure and increasingly paranoid. I felt as if my hands were something to be ashamed of. I’m not saying that girl’s hands are bad, but no guy wants to be told he has feminine hands, just like any girl would not like to be told she has manly hands. Those words wounded my masculine identity; it struck an intimate part of me.

There are thousands, if not millions, of stories like mine. I’ve known men who were told that they had a feminine figure. A dear and beloved friend of mine was once told her forehead was too big. Since then, she has tried to cover it up in any way possible, and on the days she lets it be seen, she feels a great sense of insecurity and discomfort. I’ve also witnessed instances of people taking pictures of strangers who are overweight/obese and poking fun of them on social media. This is tragic. It is the result of a culture that fails to see the sacredness and beauty of the human body.

Words: Weapons of Destruction or Instruments of Love

When we take the liberty to negatively critique what we perceive to be the  “flaws” of someone’s body, we demean a part of them that is sacred. It is a distorted way of exalting oneself and covering up for one’s own insecurities. It plants a seed that multiplies into weeds of lies and spreads throughout the garden of a person’s heart, preventing them from seeing the beauty of who they really are.

Do we want to plant seeds of discouragement or do we wish to plants seeds of love? Words of discouragement cause people to do things they otherwise would have never done. They drive people toward eating disorders, empty physical relationships, unnecessary plastic surgery, cutting, depression, etc.

Words of love, however, uplift a person. They have the capability of bringing someone to life. I can’t describe to you the joy I feel every time I complement a sister in Christ on her appearance. Just one comment like, “Wow that dress is really pretty, and you look beautiful!” can change the mood of her entire day. Right away I notice her eyes light up and her smile becomes as radiant as the sun. And Ladies… gentleman love it when you affirm them as well, so a comment on their handsome appearance doesn’t hurt either.

As for my beloved sister who is insecure about the size of her forehead: Your forehead is beautiful. It’s perfect. As a matter of fact, it is the same forehead your future husband will kiss at the beginning and end of everyday to show his tender love and affection for you.

And as for my hands… well, to God, they’re meaningful. These are the same hands that I hope will be used to transform bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ if I become a priest. Regardless of how I see them, they will be hands that God uses to anoint, bless, console, encourage, embrace, and forgive. I may fail to see the sacredness of them often, but to God they are precious and an instrument of his mercy.

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alex lambisAlex Lambis was born in New York City and his family immigrated to the states from Colombia. He graduated from the University of Central Florida, then served as a missionary in Denver, serving the homeless. He then moved to New York City to speak to thousands of young people about the beautiful message of chastity and human dignity. He is a seminarian for the Diocese of Orlando, and hopes to become a priest one day! He currently runs his own blog, Splendid Glory at splendidglory.com

16 Comments

  1. This is so beautiful. And not a coincidence that it was posted. :)

    By Michelle | 1 year ago Reply
  2. God bless you.

    By Sandy | 1 year ago Reply
  3. Beautiful!! I am going to share this!!!

    By Andrew | 1 year ago Reply
  4. thank You! Thank You dear man! My beautiful daughter lives with the demon of an eating disorder and self harm, depression, etc… We lifted her up, but someone somewhere, knocked he’d down.

    By Holly | 1 year ago Reply
  5. What about when people say you don’t look fat but you actually are? Is one supposed to believe others lies? Besides, we have flaws, some of us more than others. Some of us have enough to make us ugly and hold us back from being attractive to the opposite gender.

    By Anony Rex | 1 year ago Reply
    • Anony, Yes, there are times when people say things to people that aren’t true just to be nice, but overall today that’s rare. Most people today seem to have the belief that their opinion about others is the truth. You might find someone you’re looking at to be ugly, but that doesn’t mean everyone does, and especially not God. Look with His eyes on those you find it difficult to see as beautiful. Plus, remember others are looking at you and judging you too….how would you like to be judged based on your worst day? Keep that in mind before you speak the “truth” to someone based on your own opinions.

      By justme | 1 year ago Reply
      • No, no, I think you misunderstand. I was talking about myself. I am ugly. I know it and I know that is (at least part of) the reason why no girl has ever dated me. I’m tired of people lying to my face saying I’m not fat when all I have to do is look down to see the paunch sticking out. It’s pretty obvious. It’s a flaw and it does help make me ugly. There are other flaws I have too which contribute to being too ugly to date.

        By Anony Rex | 1 year ago Reply
        • Anony, you’re right, we all have flaws, some from appearance others from behavior, no one is exempt! And all these hurt and make us to feel insecure and very uncomfortable with ourselves. But I do believe the beauty is not in the way we look, is just a reflection of how we are. I know is hard to wait, to watch everyone dating and know you are still single, believe me I know what I’m talking about. You are precious to God! He knows how beautiful and how value you are. Let yourself on God hands and He will should you the way, and while that happen try to be the best version of yourself. I know you are going to find someone will see how beautiful and worth you are. Just wait for God’s plans, you won’t be disappointment!

          (sorry for the mistakes, I’m not english native)

          By Mary | 1 year ago Reply
        • Many woman don’t need a guy to be very good looking. A woman can love a good man who treats her well who isn’t all that handsome. Make sure you are always clean and neat, with teeth brushed, etc. Then look at your inner self. Do you have challenging or interesting work? If not, do you have an interesting hobby? Do you do things for other people? Do you go to church and volunteer for church events and charitable activities? All of these things take your attention off yourself and make you a more interesting person. The other thing is, don’t insist on the girl with the perfect shape, the perfect teeth and hair. There are a lot of wonderful women who are a bit heavy, or whose hair is a dull color or lacks body, or whose family could not avoid orthodontia. Find one of those- and you will find them working at those church events! And chat her up. Don’t be in too much of a hurry, just try to get to know her. If you like her as a person, ask her out, and again, take things slowly. There are many happy marriages of less than beautiful on the surface people, and I promise you, they become beautiful to each other.

          By Susan Peterson | 1 year ago Reply
  6. So beautiful. I love how the very thing the enemy used to tear you down God is using to reach His people. God bless you, Alex!

    By Amanda Tavares | 1 year ago Reply
  7. Yes, it’s so beautifyl

    By Uyen | 1 year ago Reply
  8. Beautiful…thank you!!!

    By Mitchell | 1 year ago Reply
  9. Thank you for writing this.. God is mercyful and works in misterious ways. I needed these words in this exact moment. God bless you, and your hands, that can write and bring people’s hope back

    By Dominique | 1 year ago Reply
  10. Amen amen amen! Beautiful post. Brought tears to my eyes.

    By Janique | 1 year ago Reply
  11. This is important, but what is even more important is complimenting people on things other than appearance. There are many articles that talk about the damage we do when we’ll tell little boys things like “what a strong boy!” and to little girls “your dress is so pretty”. It sends the message to the girl that what matters to be a girl is to look good all the time; appearance is paramount. I’m not saying that we should never compliment people on appearance; everyone appreciates it, but we need to be aware that appearance is not the key attribute of a person, and compliment other aspects.

    By Susan | 1 year ago Reply
  12. Thanks for the post. I don’t suppose you (or another blogger) would consider writing another piece going into more detail on this? My body image was severely damaged in high school, where I got made fun of for having facial hair (mostly guys, but one girl also told a bunch of people behind my back that I “looked like a man”). For years, I couldn’t even walk past a mirror without checking my face, and when invariably I’d find one or two stray hairs, I’d keep my head down and face covered as best I could for the rest of the day. It was just awful.

    Like you said in the post, it’s not just the one part of your body that you worry about. It has an effect on everything. I’d go from hearing a nasty comment to thinking, “Well, if I really do look masculine, that means I’m an unattractive girl, and no guy in his right mind will want to marry me.” When I didn’t get asked out in high school at all, but almost all of my friends did, I decided that that must have been the reason why. Even today, five years later, I still struggle with feeling self-conscious.

    I do remember, though, the night of my prom. I’d gotten all dressed up, hair and make-up and a new dress, and I just felt amazing. When I walked into the room with my friends, everyone was looking at me and saying how nice I looked. And at the end of the night, one of my male friends took me to one side, looked me right in the eyes, and said, “You look beautiful.” I never forgot that. My only regret was that it took a day’s preparation to get me looking like that. Guys don’t tell you that you look beautiful on a daily basis. I’m still waiting to find a man who will.

    By ersatz | 1 year ago Reply

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