As a young woman, I know that I am far from alone in this, but I have to say: the world certainly doesn’t make it easy for me to love my body!

Over the past few years, I’ve gone through a bit of a strange period in my relationship with my body. Growing up, I was always very skinny – hipbones sticking out and string bean arms! Late in high school I developed a few curves, and this continued slowly through my first few years of uni. But I always looked smaller and younger than I actually was.

Measuring tape

PICTURE: Jennifer Burk/Unsplash

Then I got married, and everything changed. The combination of a changing lifestyle, changing eating habits and, well, being happily married, meant that my body began to change and evolve more rapidly.

Part of me was happy – at first I felt like I was finally growing into myself; finally growing up! But didn’t stop. And now here we are, three years later and nearly 10 kilograms heavier than I was on my wedding day.

In the past year, in particular, it’s been hard to come to terms with this change. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I don’t quite recognise myself! I have had to learn how to dress a different shape and I’ve had to bid farewell to some clothes I used to absolutely adore.

Here’s the thing though: I’m actually perfectly healthy. Weight gain is actually very normal for women in their 20s, as they continue developing and their bodies start expecting pregnancy. It’s sort of like a second puberty. I’m not overweight, and for the last little while I’ve been eating better and working out four to five times a week, so even if I still have some squishy spots, there are strong muscles underneath.

But the world tells a different story. Weight loss is lauded as one of the greatest accomplishments you could aim for, and being thin and toned is held up as the “right” body type – despite the huge diversity in body shapes that can actually be considered healthy.

As a Christian woman, I’ve really struggled with this messaging. Because it’s all too easy to get sucked into the idolatry of “thin”.

I know that I want to drop a few kilograms and keep getting stronger and fitter, but it’s hard to do that without falling into the trap of discontentment with my current situation. It’s hard to not look in the mirror, poking and prodding and squeezing my body, and stop my brain from wandering towards terrible methods that would get me to my goals faster but ruin my health.

I know I need to fight this mentality. I need to stop letting my ideas of beauty being defined by anybody other than God.

Instead of looking to social media for an image of the type of woman I want to work towards, I should look to Proverbs 31 – to the strong, confident, caring, wise, hardworking woman described there.

That woman was fit and healthy, as we see in verse 17: “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.”

But why is she fit? So that she can continue her important work!

I’m sure she is far too busy praising God, caring for her family, excelling in her work and opening her arms to the needy to grow obsessed about her dress size or her jawline.

We Christians face a battle against the world, which wants us to tear ourselves down and pursue idols that will ultimately leave us dissatisfied. Instead, we need to pursue Jesus more and more, and aim to be women who honour God, love others and point the world to the Gospel.

That’s what I’ll be trying to do!