On Body Image Issues

After comedian Bill Maher made a call to bring back “fat-shaming”, or humiliating someone judged for being fat, I wanted to re-publish this post.

Anyone who looks at me for the first time will notice that my stomach…well…sticks out. I am overweight, and there is no doubt about that fact.

I will even admit that I’ve had my insecurities, at times, about the fact that I am overweight. Part of it is because of how I look, because honestly I often haven’t liked the look of my stomach sticking out. Part of it is the very legitimate concern that, because I’m overweight, I am at an increased risk for just about every health problem ranging from heart attacks to arthritis at an earlier age. And then part of it is that I feel like I’d be perceived of poorly because I look a little fat.

I think that these insecurities—insecurities which seem to be shared by many other people who’ve struggled with body image issues—need to be broken down for everyone’s sake:

The Idea that a Stomach Sticking Out (or Jiggly Arms or a Fat Neck) Looks Ugly

I could be wrong, but I think this message has been sent because the idealized bodies in our society are viewed as athletic men with six-pack bodies and women in fashion who wear size 0 clothing.  As such, many of us strive for that size 0 or that six-pack body. And I can’t lie—at times before, I have been envious of guys with six-back bodies from a looks standpoint.

For people who feel this pressure, you ARE beautiful. And I mean that. Just by virtue of the ways you can help people by using the body you have, you are beautiful. Whether you are of a healthy weight, overweight, or underweight, you are beautiful because you have a body that you can use to give smiles, help others in various ways, and make the world a better place.

Concerns about Being Overweight and Having Health Problems

We hear all the time about how overweight people are at risk for everything from arthritis to heart disease.  People of a healthy weight don’t need to tell those of us who aren’t about all of the potential health problems as if we’re ignorant; I, and many other overweight people, know and are aware of these issues.

At the same time, it’s also not healthy to be underweight. Being too underweight comes with health problems as well. Furthermore, taking measures too drastic to lose weight could result in anything from eating disorders to exercise addictions, which also are not healthy.

The bottom line is that, while it’s ideal for people like me to lose some weight, none of us should go to the other extreme and try so hard to lose weight that we create a new set of health issues.

Worries about Being Perceived of Poorly Because of Looking Overweight

Many of us, myself included, worry that, because we’re viewed as fat, we’ll be viewed as: a) lazy, b) not conscious of our health, c) couch potatoes, d) sloppy, e) not having the “right” kind of body to attract a significant other, or f) some or all of the above.

I do not belittle any of these insecurities because, quite frankly, I’ve experienced all of them! People who have no idea how many miles I like to walk when I relax in my free time have told me to “go to the gym,” and people who don’t know how hard I’ve worked to tweak my diet have questioned whether I care about my health, for example. And, as silly as this sounds, parts of me wondered at times in the past if my not having a girlfriend had to do with my not having the right physique.

If you experience any or all of these insecurities, too, my big encouragement is that we should not let ourselves be defined by how others view us, or how we think others view us. We should define ourselves in other ways, and hopefully ways that give us more fulfillment and happiness than stress and dismay.

While the individual insecurities are different, there’s one central theme with each insecurity. Namely, they all revolve around concerns that our bodies are not sufficient, that they are not “enough.” And that is a lie. Our bodies are enough. Believing anything short of that would be unjust to ourselves.

Picture of me
This was me at the International Young Leaders Assembly at the United Nations in Summer 2016. The body in the picture is capable of doing great things, and so are others’ bodies.

23 Replies to “On Body Image Issues”

  1. This is so awesome!! I love your words. You are amazing! And will do great things! Please, never ever define yourself based on weight. Remember there is nothing more attractive than confidence. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness thank you so much!!! I really appreciate the kind words. 🙂 I agree that we should never let ourselves be defined by weight, but instead by our compassion towards others, our lifting others up, and using our talents to try making the world a better place.


  2. So I decided to scroll through posts that discuss body image issues today, partly to see people’s experiences and comments on the topic. Brendan, if that is you in the picture with a black suit and glasses, then I must say that you do not look bad, at least not to me. The societal influence on how we feel about our bodies are huge. Sadly, in the society that we live in today, our bodies needs to be molded to perfection. Personally, I do not see anything wrong with wanting a better body. Whether we are trying to achieve it though eating healthy, working out or using good products on our skin. However, I think that there is a big problem with allowing our self image issues become bullies that do not allow us to enjoy our lives.

    Feeling good while working out, eating right and using skincare is how its supposed to be, not the other way around of anticipating that we would feel good after we get the dream body that we want.

    You might have gathered from my name “Christ-centered ruminations”, that I have a biblical focus. I am a youth who tries to apply scripture to modern day issues that we face. As a youth, I relate well with other youths.

    If I may ask, do you believe in God? God is our creator and one thing he does not care about is our outward appearance. Also, there is a life beyond our present life that is forever and eternal. In that eternal life, we would not gain access based on how fit we are or how good we look, but how good our relationship with God is. God is the one who gives us the true happiness to see beyond the daily troubles of life.

    If you wish to pursue a relationship with God (if you do not already have one), here are the steps that I usually recommend:

    1) Find a quiet space free from distractions

    2) Imagine that Jesus is in front of you. Discuss with him the way you will with a close friend. Tell him to come and make your heart his home and to direct your steps. Tell him that you want to build a relationship with him and accept him. You need to beware of sudden distractions when you pray, this is a trick the devil uses to disturb our prayers. You might also get the feeling that God is not there and does not care about you, well that is another trick that the devil uses to discourage us from prayer. You also do not need to be afraid of the devil, the devil trembles in the presence of our God.

    3) You can make specific prayers if you have any specific needs that you need help with. Remember to thank God when you get the answers to your prayers though.

    4) Begin to read the bible and obey it

    5) If you face trials and tribulations, sometimes they are designed to test your faith, hold on fast to God and do not let go of prayer. You will overcome all trials with prayers, fasting and consistency in faith. After the trials comes the real sunshine and happiness.

    6) You can join a community of bible believing Christians, this would benefit your faith.

    Hold fast, stay strong and trust the process. Stay Blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for commenting!

    I agree that I don’t look half bad!!! 🙂 I look pretty sharp in that suit, if I do say so myself.

    I agree that there is nothing wrong with wanting a better body. But that’s for the sake of treating our body as a temple of God or to God or something like that (I forget the wording).

    To answer your question, yes I am a believer in Christ, and He is the center of my life. I would not have started this blog without serious prayer towards God.

    On the religious element, I believe that we were all created in His image and likeness, no questions asked. It does not matter whether we have a “stomach sticking out” or some other perceived flaw–we are all created in His image and likeness.

    Regardless, thanks for the thoughts and the advice! A big part of why I am where I am today (in terms of comfort about my own body image) is because of many of these pointers you gave me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, Ashley. There are a variety of reasons, and many reasons outside our control (stress comes to mind), that lead to weight gain. I agree that it’s ridiculous to judge someone’s body without knowing their story.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this vulnerable and thoughtful post. I especially appreciate it because I feel like men are often even more stigmatized and scared to speak out about body image issues because doing so may be perceived as weak or feminine, so I’m glad you shared your perspective. I always think about how if we based less of our self-worth on how our bodies look we could place more of our attention on fighting the patriarchal and capitalist structures that create these fatphobia in the first place. Also, research has shown that fat-shaming is negatively associated with weight loss and positive mental health outcomes anyway – fat-shaming literally does not help anyone aside from fatphobia, which thrives in its presence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly, I haven’t even thought of how men talking openly of body image issues could be perceived as weak or feminine! That honestly hadn’t even crossed my mind. But I think you raise a good point there. I definitely agree with you on the importance of fighting the structures that create fatphobia. I also think it’s important to address things that cause weight issues, such as issues of access to healthy food.


  5. Thank you for opening my eyes to this issue more. I’ve been skinny for a good portion of my life even now and I’ve never had to think about those things. Sure, I’ve had my own issues of being perceived as weak or even effeminate (because me being thin equates to those traits, right? *sarcasm*), but that doesn’t compare to the stigma against those who are overweight. Thanks for sharing this post and keep on keeping on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome!

      There are a lot of stigmas that come from not having the “perfect” body image (whatever perfect looks like). I certainly hope that I can do my little part to help deal with those stigmas.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: