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I remember the first time my body image took a hit. It was nearly 15 years ago, but I still remember it vividly. I was at Awana one Wednesday night in 4th grade. As the other girls chattered, I quietly washed my hands. One girl had gotten her ears pierced recently, so everyone was pulling their hair back and showing off their earrings.
I did not have pierced ears, but I subconsciously pushed my hair behind my ears so it would be out of my face.
Laura, you have such little ears! Look at her ears, they’re TINY!
I pulled my hair back over my now red ears and tried to maintain a sense of dignity as I walked out of the church bathroom.
Now, this was a really stupid incident that probably shouldn’t have bothered me, but it did. And you know what? I didn’t get my ears pierced because I was so self-conscious about them and I thought earrings would draw more attention to their weird size.
Would you like to know how long it took me to get over that? EIGHT YEARS. Unfortunately, I’m not kidding.
I attended a Christian university. Among the freshmen, perhaps the most infamous course was “women’s evangelism.” I personally did not take this course, but one of my friends did. And it drove her insane.
“I am a BEAUTIFUL creation of GOD!” she told me in a sing-song tone. “We have to say that at the beginning of every class. Just ugh.”
After a while, my friend started saying “I am a depraved wretch saved only by the grace of God.” (She’s a rebel like that).
While I dodged the bullet of taking that particular class, the ideas presented are fairly common in Christian culture.
It’s what’s inside that counts.
Everyone is beautiful in their own way.
Every woman who regularly attends church has heard those two things approximately 872439 times. And if they’re like me, they tuned out on the subject around age 14.
Compared to Who? by Heather Creekmore takes a different approach to these issues. Instead of telling the reader that she just needs more self-esteem, she deals with the root cause of body image issues: idolatry.
“I didn’t realize how my body image issues kept me bound and, truthfully, dead. I couldn’t experience the freedom of new life in Christ because I was held captive to the belief my answer was in fixing my appearance. I tried to justify myself by making my ouside pretty enough to earn acceptance. It’s been my experience that a lot of self-named “good girls” like me never ventured into obvious rebellion, yet still engage in a desperate search or worth, value, and joy in ways contrary to God’s plan.” – Heather Creekmore, Compared to Who, p. 75
Buckle your seatbealts, friends. It’s a convicting ride.
My favorite part of the book was when Heather contrasted the modern concept of self-esteem with what the Bible actually says about loving God, our neighbors, and ourselves. While I have grown up in the church and have heard countless discussions about self-esteem, Compared to Who gave me some ideas that I had never heard.
When we battle body image, there is a root issue at work. When we say things like “Oh my goodness, you’re so skinny! I hate you,” we’re committing the sin of envy. When we covet what another has, we are sinning. When we think that being thin would be that ONE THING that would make us happy, we’re making that one thing an idol: something that we serve instead of God.
Friend, if you claim Christ as your Savior, if you say you are saved, I want you to ask yourself, honestly, if you’ve really allowed Him to rescue all of you. Do you believe He can help you with your body image issues? Do you believe He can replace your affections with a greater affection for Him? Do you believe that you can find true and transcendent joy and peace in Him alone, or do you still think that maybe one of your idols will deliver? – Heather Creekmore, Compared to Who, p. 119
Until we’re honest with ourselves about our sin, we will never be free from the shackles of the comparison trap.
The key distinctive of Compared to Who is a focus on the root issues paired with an emphasis on Scriptural truths that point the reader towards the Lord and how He would want us to live. At the same time, it’s not confusing or technical. I would recommend this book for Christian women of all ages. Moms of teens may want to preview, since there is a mention of sex towards the end of the book.
Compared to Who is being released TODAY, June 13th, 2017. It can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com, and wherever Christian books are sold. To learn more about the author, Heather Creekmore, check out her blog at comparedtowho.me.