The world today puts so much pressure on women and girls to have a perfect body. Something a friend said really put things in perspective for me personally. She said that when she looked at renaissance art before the time of boob jobs, tummy tucks, liposuction, and other forms of plastic surgery, that the perfect body was completely different. In these forms of art we see women with average to small sized breasts and tummies, hips, and legs that have definitely been through child birth. My friend commented that to her this was a “real” woman’s body.
What is culturally beautiful to one culture can seem pretty odd to another. In some cultures women put rings on their necks to elongate them. In other cultures, women and men wear large circular objects in their lips or ears. Yet in others, feet are bound in order to make the foot appear dainty. These images of “beauty” sound painful and barbaric as they altar the natural human body. But how different really has our society become with our own painful ways of altering our natural bodies through plastic surgery? I wonder if in generations to come, people will look back in wonder at our bodies that have been operated on, starved to death, and exercised to the extreme in order to reach a current cultural standard of beauty.
So, what is a perfect body? We know that man looks on the outward appearance but that God looks on the heart or the inward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7). In other words God does not judge us by our outward appearance but finds beauty in the human by what is inside. I think this is very important but what I want to focus on is Christ’s perfect immortal body. When Christ appeared after his resurrection, it is interesting to me that he still had the marks in his hands and his feet from his crucifixion. Here he was an immortal man with a perfect body and yet that perfection included what most of us would consider “imperfections.” I think the purpose of the scars he still bears are to testify of who he is when he comes again, but I also think there is symbolism in his scars that I can apply to myself.
His scars represent his voluntary sacrifice of his life for us. They symbolize his perfect life, his love, his pain & agony, his selflessness, etc… His body alone tells us who he is and what he did. What does my body say about me? I think stretch marks on a woman’s tummy and breast (and the extra weight many of us gain) might be the noblest marks we have because they symbolize the sacrifice we willingly made for another. I look at my stomach and see lots of scars from tissue & skin debridement (cutting out) after contracting the flesh eating disease at the birth of my youngest child. They remind me of the miracle of my life and God’s love for me. I think our bodies tell the story of a pampered person or a hard working person, a busy person or a lazy person, a person concerned about his outer appearance or one focused on the inner. When Jesus comes again we will know him by the scars he bears. What will my body tell him about me?