• Love Your Neighbor As Yourself… And Body Shaming

Regardless of what your belief structure is, I’m almost positive you have heard the phrase “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is a phrase taken out of the Bible and can be found here:

Mark 12:30–31

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

According to the Bible these are the 2 greatest commandments. But I want to really discuss the phrase “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This verse has often been taught to mean that we should “Treat people as you would want to be treated.” What if we look at if differently? It actually says “LOVE your neighbor as YOURSELF.”  If you were to love your neighbor with the same kind of love you give yourself right now, what would that look like? How much love do we show ourselves on any given day? If we love our neighbor as we would love ourselves, then that would require that you must actually love yourself before you can properly show love to others.

I heard some alarming stats this morning:

  • Four out of five women in the U.S. are unhappy with their appearance.
  • 81% of ten-year-old girls experience a fear of being fat.
  • 42% of 1st through 3rd grade girls say they wish they were thinner.
  • A Glamour magazine survey showed that 61% of respondents felt ashamed of their hips, 64% felt embarrassed by their stomachs, while 72% were ashamed of their thighs.
  • Women experience an average of 13 negative thoughts about their body each day, while 97% of women admit to having at least 1 I hate my body moment each day.
  • More than half of white, adolescent girls who are a normal weight view themselves as fat.
  • Seven out of ten women felt angrier and more depressed following the viewing of fashion model images. – Source

When we are younger, it’s common in the US to make body shaming a part of our culture. Mean Girls demonstrates this very well:

Unless we have fantastic roll models in our lives we never really learn what it means to love yourself. In fact, our mothers probably learned the same lessons we did, and maybe even had a hand in teaching us how to properly belittle ourselves. How often do we look in a mirror and say we are fat, or how awful our hair looks, or we wish our nose was different? When we see a beautiful woman on the street, can we just look at her and say, “Wow, that woman is beautiful.” without following it up with “… and I wish I was too.” or “… and I wish my legs were as skinny or I could rock that outfit as well as her.”

What would happen if we stopped saying awful things about ourselves, and instead actually treated OURSELVES as we would want others to treat us?

I would like to start an experiment. For 1 month, replace every fat shaming, hateful comment that we would make against ourselves with something loving. When we see a beautiful woman on the street and start our “WOW, that woman is beautiful” though, end it there. Don’t make it about us, make it about her and appreciating another human being. And lets even add some extra nice comments about ourselves throughout the day… “Wow, I figured out how to do XYZ in Excel, go me!” or “I make some Damn good coffee!” or “I really got a lot accomplished today, way to be focused and hard working.” etc.

My hypothesis is, if we do that, we will notice a shift of people we choose to keep in our lives. We will find that those who are not healthy for us or supportive of us will start distancing themselves, and we will start surrounding ourselves with positive uplifting folks. We will find that we stop being so jealous of our significant others (because that’s just stemmed in insecurity.) We will find that we are overall happier and healthier (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually). But mostly, I think we will find a significantly larger capacity to love our neighbor… and that capacity will continue to grow and grow. I think the overall outpouring of love would be huge, because once we choose to REALLY love ourselves… the possibilities of where it could grow are endless.

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