I wish I was more disciplined, thinner, stronger, cuter, more fashionable. I wish I looked like her. Why do I look like this? Why can’t I just be a few pounds smaller? These negative body image thoughts and self criticism can go on for forever, and they do nothing to bring us closer to the Lord. However, the Lord knows we struggle with these things and He wants to be there for us through it all. Kaylee dives into this topic with her raw vulnerability with her struggle with body image being a dancer. Read on as this summer she learned how to work on her inside instead of obsessing about the outside.

Inside Out (Not The Disney Movie)

Kaylee Richards

Let’s just say it like it is: as women (especially college aged women) we face a lot of criticism.

A lot of SELF-criticism.

We compare ourselves to these images we see in the media that are 100% MADE-UP, photoshopped, retouched, whatever-you-want-to-call-it, images of “women’s bodies”.

We’ve heard the rant before, we know it all too well. The idea of comparison, of low self-confidence, of a negative body image, but let me tell you, through all of this, the Lord taught me something super cool this Summer.

As a dancer, I’ve always struggled with body image. Thoughts throughout my day included: Should I eat this? What will this do to my body? Am I really hungry? Ugh why am I hungry? What does she eat? She’s so skinny. I wish I was taller. I wish my hips weren’t so wide. I wish my arms were smaller. What can I do to be skinnier? (I could go on and on and on)

But on the outside I preached “It’s not about being skinny it’s about being healthy” and “Don’t fall into negative self-talk! You’re beautiful! Love yourself and your body!”

While I believed all of this, I was not by any means living into this.

I was working out excessively, not eating healthily. I was getting the results I wanted, but to what extent?

There were nights when I would get hungry and just go to bed so I wouldn’t eat.

I would try to push back my hunger by having another cup of coffee.

None of this was healthy for my body or my mental health.

Then I went home for the summer and it hit me.

When I say “it hit me” I do not mean a sudden realization that what I was doing was bad. I do not mean this glorious moment I decided to turn my life around, prayed for strength and the Lord blessed me with self-confidence and the body to go with it. Nope. I mean some terrible sickness that literally kept me from treating my body the way I had been.

I was exhausted 24/7. I couldn’t even workout if I wanted to. I was hungry all the time, but never full. I couldn’t keep a single bit of food in me, yet I was gaining weight faster than I ever had before. I was breaking out like I was a 13 year old going through puberty. The list goes on and on…

After a little over a month of this, I went to the doctor. He told me this was going on INSIDE me and was not just your typical illness I could treat with some antibiotics or cough syrup.

I was soon on a strict regimen of 3 pills with breakfast, 2 pills 20 minutes after lunch, and 3 pills with dinner. I had to partake in the Paleo diet (also known as Caveman or Whole 30) and had to keep my stress levels low. Awesome.

I had made all of these changes and was feeling slightly better, but at certain points the sickness and fatigue were still there.

It was not until during worship at the Delight Leader Retreat I realized what the Lord was trying to tell me:

I had to be healed from the INSIDE before I could be healed on the OUTSIDE!

I had this terrible illness of me matching the terrible feelings I had for myself all on the INSIDE.

It wasn’t about getting smaller thighs or the perfect arm muscles. I had to love myself from the inside first and God would take it from there.

Now, I am still eating Paleo style and working to keep my stress levels low, but most importantly I am loving my mind and my body as the Lord’s work.

He created me the way I am and I should love that. Every time I start t0 engage in negative self-talk I have to remind myself:

Yo! Would you say that to your best friend? No! Well don’t say it to yourself! The Lord made you how you are so compliment yourself just as He would.”

Now I’m not saying this is easy.

This is one of the hardest things I have ever done, but owning up to it and really embracing this new way of love, of thinking, of my relationship with myself, my body, and the Lord is SO WORTH IT!

It took the Lord making me physically incapable of not loving on myself and my body for me to listen to Him, and it is not an easy road, but it is one I am so thankful to be on.

So I encourage you to try to same. Look inside of yourself and see what it is that you are struggling with and then give THAT to the Lord. Turn to him from the inside, the deepest parts of you, and He will take care of everything else. When you start to have negative self-talk turn your attention to the Creator who made you just as you are for a unique purpose. Talk to yourself, the way you would talk to your best friend- the way Jesus would talk to you. You got this girl!