Second grade for me was probably the worst year of my childhood. It was the first time I was made aware of the standards of beauty that I didn’t meet. Apparently, being morena meant that I was ugly and it gave girls my age the freedom to slap my face, pull my hair, and remind me of my “ugliness.”

Boys would call me names, and my least favorite was “gorilla.” I guess it stuck because I didn’t get the reference. To me, gorillas were cute! (Haha!)

I nursed that insecurity until I went to college in the US, where everyone was amazed by my natural tan. Wow, I thought, my skin color is beautiful? I started not to mind people who would say, “Ang itim mo” or “Galing ka bang beach? Ang itim mo kasi” and you guessed it right, these comments would come from fellow Filipinos. I understood then that for Asians, and for Filipinos in particular, morena doesn’t mean “beautiful.”

I came to know the Lord during my college years, and He started to heal me from the insecurity I felt.

Before I moved back to the Philippines in 2010, another issue I had to deal with was my weight. At 5’5” I weighed 140 lbs, which according to my BMI, albeit on the heavy side, was still normal.

I decided that I wanted to lose weight because I wanted to enter the entertainment industry. To me, it was going to be part of my job, and it wasn’t something to be taken personally. I didn’t really have convictions on eating healthy at the time, so all weight-related things were for appearance and career purposes only.

By the time I landed in Manila, I had lost 10 lbs. But this is one of the first things my potential talent manager greeted me with: “You need to lose weight.” So I did, in ways I now realize aren’t healthy.

Things today are very different for me, as the Lord is continuously teaching me to value and steward what He has given me.

I share this because of a concept that has been made popular in recent years called body positivity. Allow me to define it as “Accepting, celebrating, and loving the way you were made and the unique body you’ve been blessed with.

As I mentioned earlier, while things today are different, I am still on a journey to this positivity. However, I would like to share some truths that the Lord has taught me so far, and I hope they will help you in your own journey.

1. We are already accepted.

When I think of body positivity, it is almost always associated with the term self-love. This is where it becomes problematic if we do not have a good grasp of the Word of God.

Self-love assumes the self is the ultimate source of love and acceptance. The truth is that we can’t accept and love ourselves or our bodies on our own. We can try, but we will fail miserably because the self is only meant to be a recipient.

The unlimited source of love is God, who is love Himself, and He fully accepts and celebrates the way He has uniquely made each one of us. We need to receive the unlimited love and acceptance that He has made available to us.

The Bible says in Psalm 139:14, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

God has fearfully and wonderfully made us, and He doesn’t make mistakes. I want to affirm you today:

You are not junk. You are unique. You are wonderful. You are loved. You are accepted.

May your soul know it well, and may it cause you to celebrate the unique body you’ve been given.

2. We are more than the way we look.

The way you look never determines your value. This has never been so personally true for me than when I started acting for commercials.

The thing to understand about the advertising industry is that it’s very look-specific. What do I mean by this? The person they want to cast on a commercial has to fit the exact feel and aesthetic of the project they want to achieve—the hair, the skin tone, the eyes, and what have you.

So many times models don’t get a project because, according to the casting brief, they’re not pretty enough or they’re too pretty, their skin is too white or too dark, not dark or white enough, or whatever else for what the project demands. In the advertising industry, beauty is determined by the client.

The point I’m trying to make here is that the world’s beauty standards vary, and if we determine our value according to these standards, we will be depressed and confused—as confused as the world that doesn’t even know what it really wants.

Don’t fall for it. And remember this, dear one: Our looks will change, but our value in Christ lasts for eternity.

3. We are called to be kind to our bodies.

Knowing that we are already accepted and we are more than the way we look leads to a call to be kind to our bodies.

It means we are to steward and care for our bodies, not only because they are temples of the Holy Spirit, but also because they allow us to live out the purpose and call of God in our lives. It starts from the inside out.

When I say being kind from the inside, it means we are to watch the words we feed ourselves with. The Bible is clear about how death or life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).

What words do you use to describe your body? Do they bring life or do they cause death?

The enemy can easily use our words against us, especially when they aren’t aligned to God’s Word. Remember, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. I encourage you, dear one, to declare this every day, that your soul may know it well.

Being kind to our bodies also entails caring for it on a physical level, or from the outside. You see, the freedom to accept and celebrate our unique bodies doesn’t give us the license to abuse it.

What are you eating? Do you exercise?

I celebrated my birthday early this year, and since that time, I have gained a few pounds even though I have maintained an active lifestyle and I haven’t changed anything in my diet. I am not overweight, and I don’t really feel bad about gaining weight. I am, however, more aware that I have to be careful because I am getting older, and my metabolism shows it. Bye, weekly milk tea run—for now (haha)!

Size isn’t the goal here; health is. Your size doesn’t make you more beautiful than you already are. Rather than freaking out about your size, intentionally take those baby steps toward a healthier lifestyle. Whether it’s a 30-minute run or lessening the sweets in your diet, small things can make a big difference, and your body will thank you for it.

I don’t know where you are on this particular journey, but I do hope that the things I have shared here will help you love, accept, and celebrate the unique body you have. God bless you!

 

Photo Credits: Paul Zoetemeijer

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