Everyone Says, “You Need to Wear a Bikini.”
Last night, on a whim, I decided to browse the “bathing suit” section while I was at Target. For the past four or five-ish years, I have dreaded this entire experience. I have dreaded seeing beautiful girls showing off their tummies and seemingly unashamed of their outer beauty. I have dreaded trying on bikinis, hoping I could find one that wouldn’t make me cringe when I looked in the mirror or, perhaps, when I am in a photo at the pool/beach. I have dreaded the stares at myself from the dressing room, ashamed of my body, of my scars, my imperfections, my not-so-skinny legs and stomach, my pale, freckled, and bruised skin. I dreaded the desire to ‘fit in’ to this culture. Even as a woman desiring Christ, I have encountered far too many brick walls that have stood too high for me to see my beauty that is complete in Christ, not in the clothes that I wear/or don’t wear, not in my physical appearance, not in the world’s definition of beauty.
Well last year, I decided to stop wearing bikinis and two pieces altogether, out of modesty and partly my own personal struggle with self-image. As I stood in the dressing room, holding about six different one pieces I felt scared. Isn’t that funny? Alone with myself, I felt scared of what might stare back at me in the mirror? I didn’t want that feeling of shame, and struggle, and pain to meet me in that room. I didn’t want the face of a woman, who fears the Lord, to be looking back at me in disgust, in judgement. But surprisingly enough, I slipped into each one and I felt a sense of overwhelming peace. I didn’t mind that my stomach wasn’t so skinny, and that my stretch marks on the backs of my thighs were visible.
I felt beautiful.
Not in the sense that I looked “hot” in my bathing suit, or even that I looked good. But I felt beautiful in the sense that I recognized my beauty and my worth was not measured by fabric. I felt relief that the image of myself was not disgust, but rather loveliness. I looked at myself and saw a woman who is broken and flawed, but has been made in the absolute perfect image of Christ. I saw a woman who was learning to love herself and to view herself as her Creator intended for her to be.
I am beautiful.
The past year has been a transformation for me. I have asked God for a change of heart towards my own self for months now. I have despised the things I call myself, the things I think about myself, and the ways I become jealous when I see “good features” on other women. Slowly, he has changed me and transformed my way of thinking to be in light of his own. With the struggle of self-image and self-confidence, I have realized that only the love of your Maker can change your heart about your own body and image. Only he can transform your eyes to see the good, the beauty, the perfection he created, and not the eyes of this world that trick you into telling yourself that you are ugly, fat, imperfect, and unworthy. He deems us as his wonderful creation, each and every one of us. How incredible is that; your Maker thinks you are wonderful, beautiful, and perfect?
With this question of modesty in the air battling the idea of self-image, I walked out with a newly, purchased one piece last night. I realized the question about modesty is not how much clothing we have on, but the question is; “Will God be pleased with the way in which I am using this body he created? Am I imitating Christ in my choices, in my image, in my physical body? Am I using this body for good?” We desire modesty to please the Lord, not to cover up for the sole purpose of being ashamed or being scared of our bodies. We protect our bodies for they are the Lord’s, and in him we are beautiful; not by how much skin we show, but how much our bodies, our hearts, our minds, our spirits, and our souls reflect the Lord.