Swimming Pools, Mom Suits, and Creator Dysmorphia
Currently, I’m sitting at a local swimming pool. This was a choice made under great duress. I am, by nature, not a “pool person.” Because I am super fair complected, afraid of bugs, and easily annoyed by small children who don’t belong to me, this makes sense. I am all for staying in my own lane. Couches. Books. Netflix. Central air. However, the tiny humans that belong to me have different ideas about how to spend our summer.
These babies of mine love water and sun and annoying children who belong to others, and they are less enthused by my sedentary way of life. So here we are. At the pool (aka my nightmare).
You see, in addition to the aforementioned reasons for avoiding pools, I have pretty much always struggled with extreme body image issues.
In college, I was diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), which is far beyond low self-esteem. Characterized by severe anxiety and depression, BDD becomes a relentless preoccupation with a perceived or slight flaw. I have never talked about it because it is difficult to understand and explain.
Sometimes people hear someone who suffers from BDD, and because they don’t see the problem themselves, it’s annoying or sometimes insulting. You all have the skinny friend who holds up her shirt and pinches the tiniest amount of skin and announces to the group that she’s obese. [Insert eyeroll]. I get it. It’s super frustrating, but I also have suffered from repeated negative thoughts that were so much louder than reason or what other people told me in reassurance.
As we speak, I’m sitting here in my mom bathing suit (full tummy coverage with rouche-ing and matching skirt for those troublesome thighs) envying the bronzed, smooth, lean and flat that keep walking by.
Like seriously, did you come to the pool to just walk past me all day? Sheesh! I swear I can see a mother of four with a baby on her hip with zero cellulite or stretch marks. It defies logic. Sorcery must be involved.
Meanwhile, my flaws seemed to be magnified by the power of the sun and the reflection of the water. I totally missed a spot shaving, but I also have a weird razor burn rash situation. If my stomach were exposed, I might be able to convince you that I survived a deadly encounter with a grizzly rather than housing two, big-headed nine-pound babies to full term.
It’s almost impossible not to think: If I had the extra money, what part of me would I surgically alter first? Sadly, the list is long, folks.
I think this self-loathing is relatively common for people (woman as well as men). I know it definitely runs in my family. Do I have a tiny great-grandmother who still attends Weight Watcher meetings? Yes, yes I do. I don’t blame those who have modeled unhealthy behavior for me. I empathize. I question where this generational struggle started?
At its root, it is fear that I am…that we are…not enough. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually…physically. It’s Eve doubting God. Believing lies because she might be something more…have something more and better. That God is holding out, and we don’t trust His design for our lives.
Another reason I don’t talk about BDD is that I don’t believe I actually have it. Creator Dysmorphia seems more accurate.
Let me explain. As always, I am operating from the vantage point that God did create me and everything and everyone else. He knew me. Formed me fearfully and wonderfully. He saw and sees the naked, raw, and unfiltered. He declares it good because He is good.
He is the designer, and I am His image bearer. His fingerprints and blood cover me, and His Spirit fills me despite any ingrown hairs, scars, or dimples.
The question remains: is He enough? Not my enoughness. Because on my own I won’t ever be. My belief about who God is…His nature and goodness and how He sees me…is what reframes my thinking.
I speculate that every time my wandering heart cried out, “Am I enough?” He responded with, “Yes, but do you think I am enough?” It hurts to acknowledge that the answer was often a no.
This means I have work to do. Not surgical or at the gym, but the transforming of my mind. The tough task of taking thoughts captive. Trusting His word more than my eyes.
Because I have these tiny, pool-loving babies who adore me. They want to splash and slide and jump with me regardless of what I do or do not look like. They need to see me loving my Creator by loving His creation. It seems daunting and impossible and bigger than what I am capable of.
Thank goodness we have a Creator who is undaunted, has a track record of doing the impossible, and is more than enough for all of us. So rock that mom suit or show off those battle scar stretch marks, but get out there and let the next generation see that He is enough.