Besides the inordinate amount of recipes for things involving Nutella, stuff to Mod Podge , print, or sew together, pictures that are supposed to be humorous because a child or animal is using expletives, and fantasy wedding, house, and party decorations, there are also a great many thinspiration pins on Pinterest. I’ve got nothing against Pinterest. I pin away with the best of them. If you haven’t stopped by Pinterest, it’s a virtual pinboard of likes.
You like it, you pin it.
Apparently we like scantily clad women with absolutely perfect bodies running, looking in mirrors, walking down beaches, or hitting it hard in the gym. The less clothes the better. We like to put things below the pictures that say things like motivation or goal or dream body. We like to offer advice of how we pin these pictures to our fridges like omens to ward off evil things like Ben & Jerry’s or that fabulous Nutella recipe you made.
Thinspiration is the motivation toward the ultimate goal of Photoshop perfect abs, boobs that have never breast fed, and a bottom that defies gravity.
How do we get thinspiration? Simple. We covet someone elses body. We set that as our goal. It’s certainly not just about health. We’re not pinning these women’s cholesterol levels or their volume of oxygen while on the treadmill.
We like to say motivational things like, “She didn’t get that way by sitting on the couch and eating crap.” Ahhh, inspiring.
Truth be told, I’ve bought into it. I used to get Self magazine. The title really should tip you off. I’m not saying it’s a terrible magazine. It has some health tips, healthy recipes, exercise programs, and product reviews that could be useful for someone trying to get or stay fit. But it also has something that is at the core of why thinspiration is so dangerous.
It inspires idolatry for women and men. It idealizes a body that is unrealistic for most women. It inspires lust in even the best of men. Even the most beneficial things like fitness and good health can be morphed into something that raises it to the level of worship.
Most of us were not born with the genes that would allow us to have bodies like that even if we ate like birds and exercised constantly. Before and after pictures usually show massive weight loss results in a thinner, more fit body but most of them still don’t look like the thinspiration poster girls, even at their fittest.
Why do we crave bodies like that? I’d venture it’s Worship.
We crave worship. Adoration. Admiration. It’s pride and it’s idolatry.
You may say that there is nothing wrong with trying to look a certain way. After all, we style our hair or pick out clothes according to what we like and admire. We want to look good and feel good about ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with that.
What if you did win the genetic lottery and you do look like that? Is it wrong?
It may seem parochial to some to harp on this. Are all God-fearing women to wear oversized floral jumpers and admonish anyone who wears makeup so we don’t invite body worship?
I say “yes!” Just kidding. I’m fresh out of floral jumpers. But I will say that this is a place where we balance the line of legalism (à la mandatory floral jumpers) or worldliness (as seen in thinspiration.)
If you had perfect abs would you wear a modest cut one piece swim suit? If your butt could defy gravity, would you not strut around in skin-tight yoga pants? Would you work that hard to get a perfect body and cover it all up so you don’t stumble your brothers in Christ or your sisters for that matter?
Would modesty and humility be what you clothed yourself in to honor the God that gave you that bod in the first place? If you did cover it all up, would you spend a lot of time getting dressed so you could admire yourself in the mirror? Would you obsess if you didn’t make it to the gym, gained a few pounds, or ate dessert? Be honest. Would it be hard? If you’re pinning thinspirations in your heart I would argue that it would be.
Back to the balance. Is it wrong to look good? No. Is it wrong to feel good? No.
Is our culture predicated on the desire to appeal sexually to men, be admired by our peers, and be revered for our discipline in eating and exercising? Yes.
Otherwise, there would be no models or thinspiration boards.
Can that be worship of self above the God we are to glorify? Yes.
Whenever our hearts say,” look at me,” to the detriment of those around us, it’s idolatry.
If we wear clothes that provokes lust in someone, we’re breaking down that relationship. If we inspire insecurity in others by the way we flaunt ourselves, it’s a breakdown of relationship.
If we are insecure and obsess over how we look, it is a breakdown of relationship with God’s own image, us. Yup, I am created in His image right now, even without the perfect body.
Insecurity and pride are just two different sides of the same coin. They are both an obsession over self.
Now as the girl with the lifelong fat suit, one might think it would be easy to abstain from clothes that stumble someone and I’m certainly not inspiring jealousy among my peers by my awesome body. And it is easy, now. But modesty and humility are born in the heart and only then do they transfer outward.
If I motivate myself now by thinspiration, I may get to the gym or abstain from the ice cream but my heart will still be on the goal. The worship of myself. My eyes are fixed inward on myself by fixing outward on a worldly ideal.
What happens if I shed this fat suit and idolatrous relationship with food to replace it with an idolatrous relationship with my body? Will my heart be modest when my body doesn’t require plus sized clothes? Will my heart be humble when I could get attention from others? I would love to say, yes, but I fear that it would not be true if I got there by focusing on what I hoped to look like. Thinspiration can be a powerful motivator, but at what cost?
To be motivated to stop the idolatry and be freed from those chains, one has to replace that covetous nature with grace from the Lord.
We find grace not in our motivation, but in our surrender.
And that’s where the fight comes in.
The fight to surrender the ideals of this world to the ideals of God.
The fight to surrender my own glory for God’s.
The fight to put my will aside and abide only in Him.
The fight to surrender my desires, my attitudes, my pride and my insecurities and be found in Him only.