This Crazy Life

The Comparison Trap: Recognizing the Purpose of My Body

I’m 5’5″ and 125(ish) pounds. I wear anywhere from a size two to six (seriously, is it that hard to standardize measurements so that there’s not a range of sizes we all wear depending on the brand? Apparently…). A BMI calculator tells me that I’m “normal” – healthy. But, sometimes, I’m uncomfortable with my body.

Every time that I see a beautiful, vulnerable, sincere post about body image and loving your own skin, I’m reminded of the way that I should feel about myself. But no matter how many posts or videos or pictures or stories I seem to stumble upon, it never changes the fact that at the end of the day, I simply don’t always feel the way that I should – because comparison.

Because she looks better. Because she bounced back from pregnancy way faster than I ever did. Because she doesn’t really watch what she eats and she still looks like that. Because she hates working out, and I workout five days a week, yet she’s somehow skinnier. Because she didn’t procure a single stretch mark on her hips or thighs or tummy during pregnancy. Because  everywhere I look, I’m bombarded with reminders that I’m not good enough – compared to her, at least.

And at one time, I wasn’t healthy. To be honest, I don’t remember much about it; I’m not sure if it’s because it was literally half my lifetime ago or because I subconsciously blocked some traumatic memories, but I can’t quite recall why I stopped eating. I can’t even put a finger on what it was that propelled me to starve myself. Was it a lifetime of internalizing lie after lie about myself that simply became too crushing to ignore? Or was there a catalyst – a definitive moment that spurred me to action? I’m not sure. None of that really matters, anyway.

What matters is that I’m no longer shackled by anorexia. But it’s a daily battle. Every single day I’m barraged with thoughts of unworthiness, and every day I must break the chains that are eager to enslave me once more.

While I’ve never hidden the fact that I once struggled, it’s not something that I felt needed to be shared on a larger platform than with my close friends. But yesterday, something changed that. A friend shared a lovely video that another mama had made to remind women of the staggering beauty of their postpartum bodies. And, don’t ask me why (I should have known better), but I decided to take a look at some of the comments this video had received. I know, I know – never look at the comments.

But I did. And I was genuinely – probably naÏvely – stunned that the top comments were not from women praising this mama’s beautiful sentiment. Instead, they were bashing her for being “too skinny” to have constructed this celebration of a mama’s body in the first place; her figure was “too good” for her to have felt uncomfortable. They stated that she should consider herself lucky to have the body that she does, noting that they’d gladly trade places with her.

And that nasty comparison rears its ugly head yet again.

Here is a woman openly and authentically declaring that she’s trying her darnedest to love her body in a world that desires to tear her down and make her feel less than because she doesn’t have a six-pack, and instead of the top comment being a “You go, Girl,” the most “liked” and agreed upon comments are that she shouldn’t have been vulnerable and honest about her heart in the first place. Because we just can’t stop comparing.

So, from a girl who’s been there, who was “too skinny” to have decided to starve herself – I did. And I implore you to stop comparing your body to “hers” and your battle to anyone else’s. We’re all in the same boat of living in a society that elevates physical beauty and perpetuates lies from an enemy who desires to steal our joy.

As for me, I’m finally beginning to recognize that my body has a God-given purpose – and that purpose isn’t to be beautiful for my personal gain or glory. My purpose right now is to be a mama: to go hiking with my boys, to prepare meals for my family, to take daily walks to the neighborhood park, to play hide-and-seek, to wash and fold laundry, to plan birthday parties and family gatherings, and to love well. And my body fulfills that purpose perfectly just the way it is. I’d be willing to bet that yours is doing a fabulous job with your purpose, too.

So hold fast to the truth that your body was fashioned for a purpose much greater than what the world would have you believe. And, when you’re most tempted with comparison, try celebrating instead. Praise “her” and the beautiful creation that she is, because in no way does her blessing take away from yours.

There’s plenty of it to go around, of that I am certain.