Currently, it’s safe to say that every woman in America has, at some point, coveted Jennifer Aniston’s hair, Courtney Cox’s petite figure, Angelina Jolie’s lean upper body, Jessica Biel’s idyllic shape or Gwyneth Paltrow’s firm thighs.
For me, it’s become a game to count the number of tabloid and magazine covers, in any given checkout line, that tout the newest secret to the body of my dreams. Each one depicts a celebrity who has already attained to what the world recognizes (for now) as perfect. It’s enough to leave the average woman demoralized just in time to go home and fix dinner.
The modern portrayal of the perfect female body is a misnomer. Dictionary.com defines perfect as, “excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement.” How then is it possible that today’s image of a perfect woman is so much different than it was a mere 15 years ago?
In her book, Life Inside the “Thin” Cage, Constance Rhodes names several celebrities and television shows that punctuate the timeline of media’s progression toward ultra-thin, unhealthy bodies as ideal. From curvy pinup girls during World War II, to Jennifer Aniston’s early years on Friends, Hollywood once deemed curves to be sexy.
However, “With the 1997 premier of Ally McBeal, the show’s star, Calista Flockhart, spawned a whole new ideal of perfection in Hollywood.”
(Life Inside the “Thin” Cage, pg. 101)
As I read the chapter, “The Hollywood Effect,” I wondered how it is that I rely on the Bible to shape my worldview and yet I unconsciously look to the secular media to define my body-view. Scripture forms the foundation of my pro-life stance, conservative politics and support for human rights. And yet, I often fail to let God’s Word tell me what to think about my physical body or how to care for it.
Fads and favorites come and go. When I was younger, a good hair day meant that my bangs looked like a poofy, bath loofa. Then, the fashion was silky straight hair. For one person, perfect weather is 70 degrees, sunny with a mild southern breeze. Another person deems 28 degrees with three feet of powdery snow to be ideal. My perfect cup of coffee is the color of very dark carmel. My husband chooses a straight black brew. My mother hates coffee and claims tea to be the nectar of the gods.
People have tastes, preferences and moods. We are temperamental. Trends and fads are based on fickle, subjective opinions, flighty as the weather. So is our definition of perfection, even the perfect body.
Wouldn’t it be relieving to have an unchanging measure of our worth? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that we have been created perfectly, personally and that the standard toward which we strive is steady?
Today, I am choosing to reject the wobbly opinion of the world and believe the consistent, trustworthy Word of God.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Ps. 139:13-14
“I am the LORD, and I do not change.” Micah 3:6
Attachment Parenting, by Eugene Hung
Understanding Body Types, Constance Rhodes