Have you ever had that friend, that thin friend, who complains about how fat she is? And you roll your eyes, because you are clearly bigger than she is, and you think, and sometimes say, ‘if YOU’RE fat, what am I?’
For those of you who think this is an American mentality, you’re wrong. Other than the U.S., I’ve only lived in Asia, but let me tell you, Asians make Americans look mild when it comes to self-image. Imagine Silicon Valley as a continent. That’s Asia. (To be fair, I’ve only lived here in Thailand, and South Korea. So I can’t rightly say it’s true of all Asia. But it’s definitely true in these two countries.)
Plastic surgery is advertised on billboards, and is insanely cheap. You can go to a mall and have ‘decent’ plastic surgery done. Waxing is common conversation. I have a friend who went to get her eyebrows waxed, and the woman at the salon asked her if she wanted her mustache done too. She replied with, ‘I don’t have a mustache.’ The woman answered, ‘Yes, you do.’ (She has as much of a mustache as I do = fine blonde hair on her upper lip, that is not in any stretch of the imagination, a mustache.)
Not to mention they’re obsessed with white skin here. There is a sign just around the corner from our house advertising a cream made from “snail secretions” to help make your skin whiter. *shudder* I don’t know about you, but the thought of rubbing snail secretions on my skin makes me want to gag. Collagen drinks are at 7-elevens next to the soda and milk.
Self-image is hard to hide from anywhere in the world.
I’ve given up shopping for clothes here, because it’s a challenge for a “normal-sized westerner” to be able to find clothes here. I live in the L/XL and sometimes XXL land, which they don’t have a lot of here. “Free size” (one size fits all) is a joke.
Anecdotes aside, this is a serious struggle for me, and it has been for as long as I can remember. In my mind, being ‘fat’ is the worst thing people can think of me.
Doesn’t help that i’m immersed in a culture where 90% of the people (including the guys) are smaller than me. Doesn’t help that I go every week to do red light ministry, at which most of the women are wearing bikinis or less. Appearance is a very open topic here. Friends call each other fat as a joke. Couples call each other ‘uuan’ almost like it’s a cute pet-name.
The girls at the bars come sit next to me after their turn dancing, and they say, ‘oh, i’m so uuan.’ I’m so fat. And I assure them, ‘no, no you’re not.’ Because truthfully they’re not. But two thoughts enter my mind: 1) ‘if you think YOU’RE fat, what do you think of me?’ and 2) ‘I KNOW that telling her she’s not fat isn’t actually changing anything with her mindset.’
I know that because it doesn’t help ME.
Because the problem is, I’ve let the mentality of the world – the message that there is something gross/unhealthy/ugly/WRONG with my body – into my home. I’ve let that message into my closet. Into my mind.
Into my heart.
And I’ve convinced myself that the world is right.
I rationalize the Bible verses that speak against that mentality: (Ps. 139) ‘Yeah, but Lord, You formed my body as a BABY. The way my body is NOW is my own doing. You didn’t form my body as an ADULT….’ (Prov. 31:30) ‘Yeah, I know beauty is fleeting. But I don’t have a problem with thinking i’m beautiful. I have a problem with thinking I’m FAT. I can be beautiful and fat….’
First hand, this is the way Satan takes the truth of God and twists it. The misuse of Scripture to keep my mind set on my own insecurities. Unfiltered, as it happens in my own mind. *shudder* This is the stuff of hell.
But there are some Scriptures he can’t twist:
Colossians 3:2-3: “Set your minds on things above, not on things on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
When I read this one, I can’t find an angle to rationalize.
I get distracted by what I can see. I get distracted by the way my clothes are fitting that day, or the extra roll sticking out of my shirt this morning, or the way I feel when I’ve eaten one-too-many pieces of bread.
But what if my self-image problems are a symptom of my real disease? And my real problem is not with how I view myself, but where I find my identity?
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on earth.”
Stop worrying about what the world tells you is wrong or right, ugly or beautiful. There are BIGGER things to worry about, like bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth.
“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Your identity is in CHRIST. Anything else you’re worried about DOESN’T MATTER. You shouldn’t have insecurities, because you are secure.
The fact that you think your earthly body wears jeans a few sizes too big does not change the fact that your worth, your identity is in an unchanging Savior.
Who finds your soul valuable. So much so that He went through torture in His earthly body to make a way for your soul to be loved and accepted by God.
When you sit with that awhile, it makes jean sizes seem a little petty, right?
This is the truth of the Gospel: that Jesus’ sacrifice has relevance in every. single. area. of our lives.
‘Uuan’, the Thai word for ‘fat’ is one letter different from the beginning of the word, ‘to bless’, ‘uuay-phawn’.
Maybe now, when I hear someone talk about being fat, or when those thoughts come into my own mind, I will remember the blessing of God in my life, through a risen Savior. Maybe hearing someone talk about being fat will be my trigger to talk to them about someone who offers them a new identity…