“Facing Insecurities and Learning to Love My Body,” Ensign, August 2019
There is no way you can wear that.
My own words to myself echoed through my mind as I stared at my reflection in the mirror. After having four children, my body was not the same as it once was, and I knew it would never be the same again.
I changed shirts.
For the third time.
I was frustrated. Frustrated at the way my clothes clung to my body in places they shouldn’t and frustrated at feeling the familiar voice in my head tell me I wasn’t skinny enough or pretty enough. Satan, once again, was working overtime to get me to hate myself and how I look. It’s a cycle I’ve faced over and over again.
I’ve struggled with body image for years. Even when I was a teenager, I’d watch my friends who were thinner than I was wear nice jeans, beautiful dresses, and outfits I dreamed about wearing. I’d feel bad about myself, even though my friends never made me feel less than them. It was all me. In my head. All the time.
This continued after I had my kids. I hid from everyone, made up excuses to stay home from parties or gatherings, and refused to get into a bathing suit for years. All because of how I looked. I avoided taking pictures with people and posted pictures of my family on social media only if I wasn’t in them. Even with a wonderful husband who complimented me daily on my appearance and who I knew loved me, I still didn’t feel good enough. I felt ugly, overweight, and useless.
But one day, my perspective changed.
My family and I were at a swimming pool, when my oldest child looked at me, bouncing on the balls of his feet, excitement radiating from him as he got ready to jump in the water.
“Mom, aren’t you coming swimming with us?”
I stared at him, uncomfortable in my bathing suit, which was covered by an oversized T-shirt and some shorts. “Probably not today,” I said, trying not to meet his eyes. I was ashamed of myself for telling him no and letting him down—and ashamed of how much my body image affected my life. I didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t know how to make it right.
My son sighed and grabbed his sister’s hand as they made their way to the pool, leaving me sitting alone with my phone so I could take pictures of them. Pictures of them. Not me.
As I watched my husband and kids playing in the pool, I looked around. There were others like me, insecure and sitting alone on the sides of the pool. I wondered if I looked like them. Did I look lonely and miserable because I always chose to sit things out? I considered myself a happy person. I had nothing to be sad about. I had received so many blessings, I couldn’t even count. Why wasn’t I enjoying life when I was so blessed?
Then it hit me. Heavenly Father gave me my body. A working, healthy, remarkable body. He wants me to take care of it. To appreciate and be thankful for His gift. And especially to love myself. He doesn’t love me any less when I gain weight or if I lose weight. He doesn’t care what I look like in a swimsuit or if I don’t have makeup on or if my pants are too tight or loose. All He sees and all He’ll ever see is one of His daughters whom He loves, struggling to love herself even though she has everything she’ll ever need.
It’s still hard to look at myself sometimes, since Satan loves to influence me to put myself down. But now when I look at myself in the mirror, and that voice in my head begins to show its ugly self, I quickly push it away and focus on what I love about myself instead. I’m grateful that my body is healthy, that it was able to carry four children, and that it allows me to accomplish everything I need to. I try to let go of worrying about how I look. I take pictures with my kids now, and I do all sorts of activities with them—even swimming! I love creating memories with them, and I hope one day when I’m old and gray, I can look back on those memories with happiness.
I know that Heavenly Father made us all different for a reason and that He loves us, regardless of how we look or how we feel about ourselves. As our Father, He will always love us and wants us to love ourselves, no matter how hard it may be. Our bodies are a gift. And I’m thankful every day for mine.