Wasted Thoughts On Dissatisfaction With My Body

Welcome to the 6th story in our series, beYOUtiful Mom!

Featured Writer: Beth Saavedra
I want to

Since my wedding day (that oft cited standard of ideal female weight), I’ve gained over thirty pounds. I’ve also launched a professional career, borne four children, made an international move, gained reasonable fluency in a second language, and read enough books to fill a truck bed.

So why is it that I often feel defined by my weight gain and not those other milestones?

Why does concern/worry/despair about my body take up so much of my thought life?

That’s valuable brain real estate I could really be using for other purposes!

If I could pick up all the thoughts I’ve wasted on dissatisfaction with my body, pack those thoughts into a ball, and weigh it on a scale, there would be a lot of energy represented in that sphere. Wouldn’t that energy be better used on improving my guitar playing, painting pictures with my kids, making love to my husband? If I stopped thinking about my body and just starting living in it, inhabiting it, how much more energy would I have to spend on beautiful, live-giving pursuits?

If you’re reading this, hoping for step-by-step instructions for healing your self-image… well, you and me, both! I am right there in the middle of the mess, taking a few steps forward, then crumbling back into a weepy heap of self-reproach for eating that second (third, fourth) helping of chocolate ice cream. If the answers were simple and one-size-fits-all, there would be a lot more confident, trim ladies in the world.

My sister, who is younger than me and often wiser, likes to label issues like these as “first-world problems.” And that is a needed corrective, because in this South American city where I live, I can look out the window of my car any day and see short, squat indigenous ladies, with babies tied to their backs, selling candies and gum, along with magazines often sporting a European cover model. I wonder if these dark-skinned Ecuadorian ladies think about wanting to look like the women in the magazines they sell. All the plastic surgery in the world wouldn’t turn them into that standard of six-foot-tall, white-skinned beauty, and in any case, it’s more likely they’re thinking about whether they will earn enough today to put dinner on the table tonight.

First world problems… There’s nothing wrong with desiring health, strength and energy. But when my mind is consumed with an elusive ideal of beauty, when I could be focusing my drives in so many more productive, more long-lasting and valuable areas, I need (and want!) a reality check. My husband has requested one reality check: no beauty magazine in this house (and no reading People magazine on the internet either!). We’ve found that I’m a much happier, more contended camper when I don’t dwell on all that false advertising.
Here is a secret that is changing the way I live in the body God has given me:

But all of us who are Christians have no veils on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord. We are transfigured by the Spirit of the Lord in ever-increasing splendor into his own image. (2 Corinthians 3:18).

When I spend time looking at Jesus, looking at the splendor of who God is (instead of looking at airbrushed, impossibly beautiful models on magazines), I start to reflect his beauty in clearer ways. And isn’t this what brings true joy?

 More important than a beautiful body, I want an entire life made beautiful by God.


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Beth Saavedra is an avid fan of her husband, the band U2, chocolate and the Bible. She loves her four kiddos more than life itself. Beth makes her messy, friend-filled home in Ecuador. You can read her missionary newsletters at http://saavedrastories.blogspot.com.

images via flicker- White Ribbon, not sure who to credit for cartoon that has been circulating on the internet

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20 Responses to “Wasted Thoughts On Dissatisfaction With My Body”

  1. Lisa P.
    May 18, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Beth – I weigh about 20 pounds more than I did when we were married 17 years ago (remember that I am shorrrrrter than you), and now at age 43 I can honestly look at my body and say “HEY! You look GOOD!” I don’t want to be a bag of bones like I was when I walked down the isle. (I’m sure that’s what Kurt was thinking as I walked down the isle…”here comes my bag of bones”. HA HA! He did actually used to call me “Bones” when we were dating – I forgot that until just now. Pardon me while I think/write outloud.) I feel pretty good about how I look with my “curves” but it has taken me these past four years since our return to the States to work that one out (I don’t know how much weight I put on in our first year back as I never owned a scale in Ecuador and didn’t get one here until my pants didn’t fit – HA!). Anyway, after taking off 13 of those “re-entry” pounds and now just realizing that I simply am not able to weigh 105 anymore, I am happy to look like a mature woman, comfortable in her soft skin that my kids and hubby like to love on. 🙂 On to bigger and better things! 🙂

    Peace to you,

  2. May 18, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    Great post that I SO relate to! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Jess
    May 18, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    I am glad you didn’t say “just focus on your inner beauty”, sometimes that cliche comment gets old. I am glad you ended with “More important than a beautiful body, I want an entire life made beautiful by God.” lol, on the cartoon!

  4. May 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    In reading this piece, I related to nearly every word. Lately, I have been struck by the idea (not my own for sure, but taken from those with deeper spiritual development) that we are all divine because we were made by God. I lose pieces of my spiritual self when I focus on too much junk in my trunk, etc. I think it is being conscious of those spiritual gifts that are truly God-given that help me readjust my focus and thinking so that I am thoughtful about what truly matters in this life. If I am not aware of the joy, love, compassion, truth, goodness, equanimity, harmony and beauty I do possess, I am apt to use my energy and creativity to try to attain a truly elusive ideal of beauty. Thank you for writing this. I have printed it for it is beautiful, like you. Thanks, Beth. Karen Dempsey

    • May 21, 2012 at 6:56 am #

      The dempster,

      So true, there is so much to help us readjust our focus. My prayer is that He would open the eyes of my heart so that I can see it.

  5. Anonymous
    May 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    Thanks for reminding someone old enough to be your mom that the energy and time wasted in the pursuit of the standard this world gives us is bogus! Rachel is quite right, this is a “first world” problem. I’m going to try the new method of weighing myself! This is going to start a new trend!

    Under His Wing,

    Carol Pfeiffer Ruhlen

  6. May 20, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    Beautiful, Beth! Thank you for your encouraging words! I always need this reminder. Bless you!

  7. May 21, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    His ways are so weird (to us) sometimes! But when we truly want what He wants, then things will happen!

  8. akismet-6eb8d51890c8797356ee4d8a5b8e1894
    May 22, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    What great words. I love the concept of a “first-world” problem…how true. And sad. Congratulations on all the milestones you have conquered!

  9. May 22, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    I’m learning to love my body too, even the parts that will never change!

  10. May 22, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    Would love for you to share this at my linky party!

  11. letwhylead
    May 22, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    I love the concept of taking all the time we spend lamenting physical attributes and replacing them with efforts we actually consider worthwhile. Honest and beautiful post!

    I’m new, btw, visiting from Better Mom. I’m off to check out more!

  12. May 26, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    I’m right there with you…30 lbs. more with marriage, kids, a career change, multiple moves and such and still often feeling…well, feeling the weight. Thank you for the encouragement and reminder to keep my eyes on Jesus rather than my belly. Right on! I would love to have you link this up to Titus 2 Tuesday next week on Cornerstone Confessions.

    Hopping over from Mom on Timeout.



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