Let me continue with my thoughts of body image from a more spiritual and less "functional" perspective.
Our bodies are divinely created after the image of God. They are the final, highest creation of the Lord. We are each one of his masterpieces. In the scriptures our bodies have been compared to a temple of God that can house the Spirit of the Lord.
As temples, we ought to keep our bodies clean both physically and spiritually. We ought to do our best to take care of these mortal tabernacles given to us by God. They house within them divinely begotten spirits of our Heavenly Father. Each person's body, with all its beauty and all its imperfections, are creations of the Lord.
I like to think of this as I would a great work of art. Let's take a Van Gogh for example.
His paintings, to me, look very "imperfect." Many are not even "pretty" to me. His self portrait is not something I would want to look at everyday. But all of them are "masterpieces" worth incredible amounts of money. Part of the reason all of his work is worth so much is because HE made them. Even his lesser known works are worth serious money because they were made by HIM. Often those works with imperfections are are the most highly prized.
If we value so highly, imperfections and any work created by the hand of one famous man, how much more ought we to value ANY work created by the hand of GOD? How much more ought we to value the "imperfections" in HIS work that create identity, individuality, and uniqueness?
I try to teach this lesson to my girls. I teach them that their body is a temple and a masterpiece of art made by God. Along with this, I try to emphasize my point by telling them not to draw on themselves or others. I ask them if they like it when their sisters draw on their artwork. The answer is ALWAYS, "no." They think it ruins their art if a sister so much as touches it with any kind of writing. I then tell them that their body is God's work of art and we don't want to write on it either. Luckily, He made our bodies washable so we can wash off such marks but we should try not to put them there in the first place.
Now, I know most people think nothing of writing a phone number on their hand or whatever. I am not saying it is "wrong" of people to do that. But I think teaching this point helps my kids understand that their bodies are works of art and ought to be appreciated as such. It is something to which they can relate because they draw all the time and often get upset when a sister draws on their creation.
I wish we all could appreciate our bodies and especially the imperfections in our bodies as part of what makes us such great art. I wish we could all stop striving to have "perfect" hollywood image and start loving the differences in our own frame that make us who we are. This is increasingly hard in our society, but I hope and pray I will be able to instill this appreciation in my little girls.
I want them to take care of their bodies. I want them to eat a fairly healthy diet and stay active. I want them to stay clean and brush their hair and teeth. I am think it is good to make the most of what you have been given. But I hope they learn to appreciate every part of their bodies as part of the creation, even the masterpiece, of God that they are.
A last thought tomorrow on true self esteem...