Today’s post was written by Dr. Rita Schulte, who has been my counselor (virtually!) for the past two years. A successful author and radio host, she is on fire for Jesus and loves His children. She has helped me during my recovery from anorexia, and she has helped many others find hope. For her official bio, see the end of this post. I know her words will uplift you!
Do you ever get tired of hearing that you have to be a smaller size? In order to be considered “okay” in today’s culture, you have to firm up your abs, get rid of your fat, tighten your butt, sculpt your arms, fit into those skinny jeans, and do it all with a smile on your face!
If you’re tired of hearing it—and hearing it—maybe you need to stand your ground, rebel, and go against the tide. There is so much more to you than just a size or a number. Living in a culture that’s obsessed with beauty and body image isn’t easy. In fact, it’s downright painful, especially if you’re not a size 2. Most of us aren’t naturally that small!
Maybe you simply need a new look—but this one shouldn’t have anything to do with your weight, size, or shape. This look requires you to cultivate what’s on the inside. It means being fearless about who you are apart from a number on the scale. It means standing up and screaming at the top of your lungs, “I’m not going to drop a jean size just to be acceptable and valued because my body is perfect just the way it is!”
Here are a few tips to begin the journey of being authentic to who you are:
Know Your Heart
The real problem behind our beauty and body image obsession is that we’re paying more attention to the externals than we are to being our authentic selves. By spending more time growing and cultivating qualities that are congruent with our core values, we can become a lot healthier physically and emotionally. Think about how much time the fashion, food, and cosmetic industries pay to convince you that your body isn’t okay. And you buy it hook, line, and sinker. How do I know? Because I buy it way too often. But instead of buying into the culture’s unrealistic ideals, know your value and the beauty God gave you.
How do you develop your authentic self? By spending time reflecting on your core values and learning who you are and what your strengths are. Write down what matters to you and who matters to you. Write three core strengths that you see in yourself (such as perseverence or kindness) and list situations where you’ve demonstrated that strength.
Find your strengths, and you’ll become fearless. Utilize the gifts God has given you, and impact your world with them. Be humble. Be a friend. Be generous. Show compassion. Lead others. The list never ends!
Pay attention to the one thing that’s most important in your life: those you love. Don’t let your concern for your size, your weight, or your body image rob you of life. Don’t let it steal time away from those you love because you’re so preoccupied with how you look. Be willing to take a risk, say good-bye to old habits, and dare to try something new.
It’s hard to be grateful for something you loathe. My clients with eating disorders and body image concerns can’t find one thing to like about their physical appearance. But I challenge them to risk looking beyond what they see and begin to cultivate an attitude of gratefulness for what their physical body allows them to do. Our bodies allow us to write poetry, run marathons, play instruments, hold our loved ones, and so many other wonderful things! Start small—but start somewhere.
Don’t look at the girl beside you at the gym, the guy on the magazine cover, or the hot chick at the beach to judge yourself. Instead, start thinking about your strengths and your qualities. If you feed yourself a steady diet of garbage, that’s how you’re gonna feel—like garbage.
Back at You
At the end of the day, only one thing is necessary to revolt against societal norms that demand us to be thin in order to be valued: a choice. This choice involves ignoring the cultural mandates and setting the world on fire just as you are, no matter what your size is. This choice also involves choosing to live—really live—a full and abundant life where you are content with who you are, not what you look like.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10 ESV)
- How have you felt pressured to meet the standards for beauty and perfection today?
- How have you resisted?
- How have you succumbed?
Rita Schulte is a licensed professional counselor. She received her B.S. in Psychology and her master’s degree in Counseling from Liberty University. In 2004, she launched a private practice in the Northern Virginia/Washington D.C. area, where she specializes in the treatment of mental health disorders including depressive and anxiety, disorders, eating disorders, grief and loss issues, and relationship problems.
In 2011, Rita created Heartline Radio to address the cutting-edge mental health issues that are affecting our culture today. The show is designed to provide relevant content to educate, equip, and engage the culture in the awareness of how mental health disorders are affecting the hearts and minds of each of us. As the host of Heartline Radio, Rita talks with some of the top Christian counselors and authors in the country, as well as real people struggling with real life issues. Through thought provoking and candid interviews, Rita and her guests provide solid Biblical counsel and practical solutions on how to move through the difficulties of life.
Rita is also a conference speaker, author, and host of Consider This, which is a 60-second spot designed to challenge listeners to consider their lives through the lens of God’s truth. Her books include Shattered: Finding Hope and Healing through the Losses of Life (Leafwood 2013), Imposter: Gain Confidence, Eradicate Shame, and Become Who God Made You to Be (Siloam 2014), Think This Not That: Rewiring Your Brain to Eliminate Toxic Thinking (Leafwood Publishers 2018), and A Roadmap for Survivors of Suicide and Those who Love Them (Moody Publishers 2020).
Rita is no stranger to loss and suffering. In 2013, Rita lost her beloved husband to suicide, and her world was decimated. She speaks candidly about her loss in the hope of helping others to heal. She writes for many blogs and magazines, and her articles have appeared in Counseling Today, Psychotherapy Networker, Christianity Today, Thriving Family, Kyria, and LifeHack.org. You can connect with Rita at www.ritaschulte.com.