Many of us have experienced body image issues. Maybe we have felt unhappy, frustrated or have felt bad about our self-worth based on how we look. Maybe we see things we wish we could change, or we go to great lengths to hide things we don’t like about ourselves. Struggling with a negative self-perception can significantly affect our happiness or steal our joy. So, what does being created in the image of God teach us about loving our body?
In This Article:
What Is Body Image?
Body image is how you see yourself and how you feel about your own appearance. When you look in the mirror at yourself, the thoughts and feelings you have toward yourself make up your body image.1 Some people have a positive body image, where they generally feel confident in the way that they look. Others may have a more negative body image and feel insecure or unhappy with the way their body looks. Nevertheless, our perception of ourselves can vary, leading to fluctuations in our self-image, ranging from positive to negative, even on a day-to-day basis.
It is very common for young people to have struggles when it comes to their body image.1 Most of us don’t feel completely happy with the way we look. We might even value ourselves less because of those insecurities. Know that you are not alone in your feelings. It is normal to worry about your appearance and care about how you look. It is normal to feel good about yourself one day and not so good the next day. Our emotions can sometimes influence our body image and how we perceive ourselves.
Do I Struggle With Body Image Issues?
But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.’ The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. — 1 Samuel 16:7
Next time you look at yourself in the mirror as you get ready for your day, pay attention to the types of thoughts and feelings in your head. Are you:
- Picking out things you don’t like about your appearance and focusing on them?
- Telling yourself others won’t like you as much because of something they might see when they look at you?
- Wanting to change things you see in order to feel more happy, liked or accepted?
- Attempting to hide certain things?
The way you talk to yourself about your body or the thoughts you have reflect your body image. Negative self-talk or generally critical thoughts toward your body might mean you are struggling with your body image.1 Additionally, our emotions and moods can have a direct impact on the way we see ourselves. Examples of this might look like:
- Being extra hard on yourself because of a stressful or disappointing situation
- Crediting negative emotions, thoughts or feelings to external things, like the way you look
- Thinking about yourself using negative words, self-limiting ideas or exaggerations of small imperfections
Recognizing when you have unhealthy self-talk or behaviors is the first step in the process of healing and seeing yourself through God’s eyes. Aim to become more aware of your self-talk when you focus on your appearance and start noticing if it is negative or positive. You might also find relief in shifting your focus away from your appearance, which we will continue to talk about in this article.
Created in the Image of God
God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. — Genesis 1:27
In the very first chapter of the Bible, it says that God created mankind in his own image. This is such a powerful truth revealed to us in the very beginning of scripture. Our physical image and appearance are a reflection of God’s image. Out of God’s love for us, he made us to be like him. What God designed during the creation of earth was declared good, which means all humans are good creations, each made uniquely in God’s image.
Our image shares characteristics with his image. When God instructed the ancient Jews to not create any images or idols for worship, it was because God had already made images of himself in us. We have value because God created us to have value through him. Our bodies are beautiful because they reflect the beauty of God.
Looking at yourself and others as being created in God’s image can help you think more positively about your appearance and body image. We can shift our mindset from the shallow, worldly view of appearance to a biblical view of appearance as being a way for God to show his image through individuals in unique and beautiful ways.
Overcoming Body Image Issues: Loving Your Body
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. — Psalm 139:14
Overcoming body image issues can take a lot of time and effort since the process of healing never looks like a straight line. The key to becoming confident and seeing yourself in a positive light is to practice loving your body. Learning to find value in your body beyond what you see can help deepen your appreciation for your body as well.
Scripture That Can Help You Overcome Body Image Issues
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies. — 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
God is our Creator and we belong to him as his creation. Jesus died and sacrificed his body to save ours. Jesus left his spirit with us to dwell within us and guide us on earth. All of these truths give us reason to value and love our bodies for what they are and beyond what they look like. Our physical bodies are valuable because of God’s use for them.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. — Ephesians 2:10
God gave us physical bodies so we could do his work and will on the earth. Our bodies are the way we are able to go out and further the kingdom. We are given the divine and sacred task of tending to this earth together at the very beginning of creation. Jesus came to further that idea by tasking us to become fishers of men, extending our task beyond care for the earth to development of the kingdom. We have value no matter what we look like because our bodies give us this ability.
Practical Ways To Love Your Body
Reminding yourself of your value beyond your outward appearance can help change the way you think about yourself and your image. Journaling or practicing biblical affirmations can help you focus on your internal value which can boost your confidence and body image. Here are some ways you can do this:
- Choose a verse from this devotional or another that reminds you of why your body has value.
- Write down verses in a journal and follow with writing down what you value about your body.
- Put encouraging verses somewhere you will be able to see them every day and reflect on them.
- For every negative or critical thought you have, practice positive self-talk by telling yourself three things you like or value about your body that day.
Instead of dwelling on negative feelings, shift your thoughts toward something entirely different. Remind yourself of positive feelings and biblical truths about the physical body each day and make it a habit.
As a young person it can be challenging to deal with body image issues, even when we know we are created in the image of our God. Getting your bachelor’s in Christian studies with an emphasis in youth ministry can give you the opportunity to learn about how God values each of us and guide the younger generation through the kinds of struggles they will encounter as they become adults.
1 Lawler, M. (2022, February 2). All About Body Image: How Psychologists Define It and How It Affects Health and Well-Being. Everyday Health. Retrieved on July 11, 2023.
Approved by the local outreach coordinator of the Office of Spiritual Life on July 17, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.