Sunday, May 1, 2016

the reason i threw my magazines into the wastebasket

I really need to be writing my English exam right now (it's the dreaded Exam Week, y'all #how #why #saveme), but something is on my heart so I'm going to pause and share it:

Body image.

Before you roll your eyes and dismiss me as Just Another Young Woman Blogging About Inner Beauty, hear me out. Interestingly enough, what I want to tell you comes from a conversation I had with my Dad.

That's right, folks. This little guy is my father. Good old Pops.
Also, if you're thinking that this photo explains a lot about 
my particular eccentricities, that's because it does.


You may or may not know that body image is something I struggle with, and have combated for what feels like a while now. I'm not going to say much about that other than it's a very self-centered kind of sin, one that makes me focus only on myself and my perceived flaws. It's a good tactic of the devil's to keep me always obsessed with self. 

How could I possibly find my true worth in Christ if I'm always worried about my weight? How can I change the world if my biggest goal in life is to be thin?

The Story: The other day I was eating lunch whilst perusing a stack of Teen Vogue magazines.

The Bit of Backstory: I used to really like Teen Vogue, not because I have any actual interest in high-end fashion (please) but because I love photography, design, and the cover stories were amusing enough. But when I went away to Bible college, I felt the Lord pulling on my heart to rip them up. I treasure my magazines, so that was tough, but with God's strength, I did it. I realized that the images I was putting in front of my eyes were harmful, damaging to me. They were helping me set unattainable standards for myself without my half-realizing it.

Sound familiar?

Anyways, over the past month, I picked up a copy (or four) of the magazine from the library discount store. I wanted something to read, as I no longer have any magazine subscriptions, and I apparently love to re-learn hard lessons. *sigh*

My Dad noticed me reading them the other day, albeit a bit skeptically.
And then today, he asked me to show him the issue with Emma Roberts he had noticed earlier.

Here are some images from that issue:

Note: I'm not skinny-shaming (oh gosh) or hating on anybody who naturally has this body type; I just know that for a 22 year old woman with my own frame, it is wildly unattainable.

My father, in all his "old-man" glory, is so full of wisdom. I'm so grateful to God that I have a Dad who is willing to call me out and speak truth into my life. We had an honest conversation about how unhealthy it is to look at these magazines day in and day out. Vogue is bad enough, he said. Teen Vogue literally showcases images of children made to look like adults. 

And it's true. It's a double offense: not only do very young teen models working in the fashion industry become subjected to sexualization, but the older women looking at these images think there is something wrong with their own bodies because they don't look anything like the people pictured.

This is sad.
And it leads to an unrealistic (and binding) game of comparison.

"A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones."   ~ Proverbs 14:30

I've been praying lately that I would be a woman who celebrates others' victories, not envies them. If you're like me and struggle with comparing yourself, you may find it hard to be happy for others. So often, we feel like we don't measure up. But, we all fall short. We're all imperfect. And there will always be someone skinnier, prettier, or more talented at watercolor painting than you. But if you put all your stock in being the "best" at something, where will your worth be when you're no longer on top?

"My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be."
~ Psalm 139: 15-16

My magazines now sit in a crumpled heap at the bottom of my purple wire wastebasket.
I'm not saying I won't have to re-learn this lesson again in the future (my track record says I will), but I'm grateful God used my father to address this issue with me tonight.

One more thing: I casually mentioned to my Dad that I picked up the magazine from the 25 cent pile at the library. It hardly cost me anything; it was practically free. But then he turned to me and said,

"It's not free. It's never free."

And you know, anyone trapped in the lifestyle of comparison, they're not living free, either.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
~ John 8:36

+ Props to you if you read all of this. I mean it. Also: please notice the distinct lack of gifs in this post. 
I showed restraint. That's what I'm talking about, people.


  1. "It's not free. It's never free."
    Wow. That is amazing advice.

    I'm sure you feel lighter for having got rid of them. I don't have any magazines anymore - my mum still reads the tacky Woman's Day that comes out every week but I stopped subscribing to and buying magazines because it was clutter and I wasn't getting anything out of them anymore. I ended up cutting them up and using them in some crafty projects but then they went in the recycling bin. ❤

    Erin |

    1. I thought it was really beautiful, and definitely hit me hard in the moment. Dads are so wise!

      You know, I do! Good for you for not buying magazines anymore. I feel like there is honestly so much excess that can creep into my life, and magazines can be a part of that. But they certainly can make wonderful collages! :) Thanks for commenting.

  2. Oh I love those vogue photos! And I keep my fingers crossed for all the exams. <3

  3. Woah, it sounds like you have a very wise father.

    1. I have been blessed with a wise father for sure! :)

  4. I read it all. I heard it with more than just my ears. I feel like people are always telling me not to compare myself to others, but that doesn't mean I need to hear it any less! Thank you for reminding me again :)

    1. Thank you so much for reading it all. :) I really appreciate it. It can be hard to hear that from others, but when you learn the lesson for yourself, it can really resonate.

  5. This was such a great reminder, thank you for sharing. I especially love your dad's last comment- it's not free. it's never free. Definitely something I've needed to read.

    1. You're welcome! I'm glad you liked it. Praise the Lord for timely words :)

  6. Erin, your words cut to my heart. For I struggle with insecurity and comparison on a daily basis, constantly fighting the urge to put my identity in "skinny" or "pretty." You are so right that it is a selfish, sneaky sin that creeps up and destroys joy.

    I too read Teen Vogue growing up (although I read it for the high-fashion and outfit inspiration), but now I don't like it. I've veered from a lot of popular culture because I felt the pressure, the comparison, and the pride.

    I put my identity in "skinny" and I can't seem to shake the shadow of comparison everywhere I go. Even without Vogue I walk on a college campus filled with a variety of girls and women to compare myself to. I just want to be the thinnest, prettiest, and fittest. But is that glorifying to God? Is that worth it? Is that even what I want? Why do I seek skinny when God offers me /beautiful/? Why do I seek earthly looks when God offers me heavenly clothes?

    Reminding myself of my identity in Christ is the only way to shake this comparison and insecurity. Thank you for this encouraging and thought-provoking post!

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment. It really touched my heart! I like that you're veering away from popular culture. I've been feeling that pull lately; to spend less time online, on Facebook or filling my mind with the world's standards. I really appreciate your vulnerability with your struggle; just know that you are not alone. And thank you for your wonderful blog posts! :)


Go with grace.