This started out as a thought I wanted to share paired with a picture but then I realized I had more to say about it than just a caption on an Instagram picture…so here we go. The other night I was inspired to try and paint my first ever human figure portrait. I have always had an appreciation for the human body and it’s beauty. I set my phone up in the bathroom and had a mini self-timer photo session so I could use myself as the subject. Even writing this post I have this internal struggle because I know that this is such a sensitive subject that has two very clear sides: embrace freedom of being beautiful and protecting something sacred that is so prone to being perverted by sin.
As a godly woman, I want to live a life modest and self-respecting. But I also don’t want to live my life to please people and what other people, other Christians are convicted is the “right & only way”. I don’t want to dress in a way that is a stumbling block to men and be a cause for lust. At the same time, I want to live and walk in the freedom that Christ has given and I cannot change a man’s heart. There’s this fine line of wanting to be confident in my skin but not being of the “flaunt it if you’ve got it” mentality. Dressing for, living for me and for Christ and not for the attention of man…men.
The human body is and always has been something that I have been fascinated by; man and woman’s alike. God created this beautiful thing that we have allowed our culture to pervert and over-sexualize so much that if a woman bears her shoulder, next thing you know someone’s fully undressing her with their eyes. You see magazine covers, blogs, hash tag movements, feminist activists, etc. going about trying to “normalize” the human body so that it is not so objectified. And while I don’t agree with their methods most of the time, but I can appreciate their mission.
When I was in high school, I blew my knee out during our basketball season and was in the trainer’s office 3 times a week for physical therapy. There I was, a 15 year old laying on a table with a grown man who had his hands all over my calves and thighs. But I didn’t feel weird about it. Know why? Because he wasn’t this creeper grown man fondling this teenager’s legs. He was a trainer taking care of an athlete’s injury. He worked my leg into shapes and movements to help my flexibility and mobility so the muscles and ligaments could heal and get stronger. How he was looking at me and my body wasn’t sexual. Anyone who has gone to a chiropractor for lower back problems…they got their hands all over your tush!! Because you lower lat muscles go into your glutes, they have to work the muscles and joints to correct the problem. Maybe I’m getting away with myself, but you get my point. The lense that these professions (and others) see the body through isn’t one of a sexual nature.
Dance. I LOVE dance…especially ballet. I love watching the lines that the body creates and seeing both the flexibility and the strength that it’s capable of. Watching two people dance and see how one body can work as an extension of another…it’s beautiful! It is absolutely AMAZING to see how God created the human body. You see ballerina’s, gymnasts, powerlifters, long distance runners, sprinters… all of their body types are different. What their muscles do based on their activity is astounding! A stay at home mom who has the extra curves and maybe no so defined muscle because she has 2 or 3 kids and works to take care of them and her husband…is beautiful! The body is beautiful and it makes my heart just so sad that we’ve turned it into something to just be lusted after so often. And I’ll admit that I’ve been guilty of it myself at times…not gonna lie. But as I long to see God transform my heart and how I see the world, his creation, this is something that speaks to my heart.
I’m not writing to propose some all-knowing cure, fix it to this problem because there isn’t one. Sin is in the world. Sin takes what God created for good and perverts it. And the truth is that the body is a VERY sexual organism…I know that (and real talk…I ain’t mad at that LOL). But it makes me sad that it seems to be the dominant lense used. I guess I just wish more often the body was appreciated for the beautiful, amazing, astounding machine it is. Often times when I’m at the gym I’ll look at the guys around me and take in what I’m seeing. I’m appreciating them but not necessarily “checking them out”. I think it’s so cool how God created the body for the muscle groups to work together the way they do! To see the difference of a stocky, short muscle build opposed to elongated (like myself).
I think it’s fascinating that the body can literally be sculpted. I saw a video last week about two girls who worked with a trainer for a week and did the workouts that models do for runways. I was listening to the trainer talk about how he stays away from specific exercises and weight amounts so the body can be “sculpted” to a specific runway look. Then you have Crossfitters who have immense strength in their muscles but some may not be as “cut” as other people. It’s crazy what the body is capable of! Crazy!
Edgar Degas has always been a favorite painter of mine for his painting of ballerinas and how he captures their lines, their soft and delicate frames. I find beauty in the body the way I find beauty in a sunset on a warm summer’s day. There’s this wonderful appreciation of it. And I realize that this entire post is speaking to a heart issue, not a physical issue (though I’m talking about the physical form). And I realize that because sin DOES exist that we have to be mindful of that. I’m not suggesting that just because I think the body is a beautiful, God-made organism instead of a lust object that we just go around flaunting what we have because it’s “beautiful”. I also realize that there is a time and place for everything. There is context for everything.
I guess this post isn’t so much about posing some answer to an issue or question but just a place for me to simply express my thoughts. As an artist. As an athlete. As a single, godly woman who is ever growing. My confidence in my own body and ability to see it as beautiful has everything to do with how I see God…and how he sees me! I am more than my body. You are more than your body. But our bodies are beautiful! The muscles, the curves, the curves over the muscles. The lines and shapes we can make with them. I wish we were able to live in the freedom of that beauty instead of the chains of lust. To keep lust at bay we try to live modestly. But! Modesty is a difficult thing…it’s a personal conviction so as to keep us from the walls of legalism. But if modesty can begin in the heart…and marinate in the soul, then the external manifestation would just come more naturally. But that’s another post for another day!
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. –Genesis 1:27
And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. —Genesis 2:25
But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. —Genesis 3:9-11, 21