Melissa C Clark counselor with family

Battling the War Within

Its that time of year again – the holiday season.  This year, I’m determined to stay ahead of my to-do list in an effort to actually relax during the yuletide fun….this is possible, right?

A part of my rush is Christmas cards, you know before New Year’s or Valentine’s day.  Because that’s what I’ve done the past few years.  This year is going to be THE year (I know I’m setting myself up for some kind of failure, but you gotta love my cheery optimism).

A high school friend started a photography business, so I thought it would be the perfect pairing: supporting her new venture and me getting Christmas cards out at Christmas time.

Pictures were taken at a great location, kids looked super cute (of course), husband looked super handsome.  And then, me.  This happens every time we do any kind of photo shoot.

A spotlight hones in highlighting everything I don’t like about myself.

My negative body image takes over.

I’m not going to spend time on this, but trust me.  I dissect myself much like kids used to do with frogs in science class.  I begin wondering how much photoshop could help disguise or reconfigure the image on the screen.

Thankfully, I know the road this takes me on and the road is called Self Loathing Blvd.  Self contempt becomes my companion along with shame and depression.  So, this time I said – no thank you.

But, still, there are the things I don’t like about myself.  Recently,I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about this.  And it hit me, I have a choice.  In my incoherent sleeping state, I recognized I have a choice.  Ruminating on what I don’t like about myself only to later wallow in shame and frustration about the negative thoughts. So, between being conscious and asleep, I thought about what I could do:

I can validate my emotions and experience.  I can say to myself, I get it.  Its okay.  Giving grace and understanding is always a great route to escape Self Loathing Blvd.

I can speak truth by saying “I am beautiful not because of your hair, makeup or weight (so, this may clue you into what I was hating on).  But because, I am made in the image of God.

2 Peter adds to this by saying, beauty doesn’t come from outward adornment, it comes from within. Another way of saying this is beauty comes from simply being the person we are created to be…our identity.

I can have perspective by realizing I can choose to focus on my flaws.  But if I do this, I will miss the amazing faces standing beside me.

A negative body image will steal, kill, and destroy (sound familiar).  Joy is stolen and memories are never made.  For example, not being in a picture fearing how you look or not going to the beach because of having to wear a swimsuit.   A negative body image kills the connection you have with yourself.  Adrienne Ressler, body image guru states, a negative body image breaks the connection you have with yourself.  This can lead to destructive patterns like eating disorders, cutting, and depression.

If you’ve never struggled with a negative body image, the struggle may not make sense.  If you have struggled with it, you may feel hopeless if you can ever love yourself.

I believe change and healing is possible.  Having a healthy body image doesn’t mean loving every square inch of your body or thinking you look amazing all the time (clearly I don’t). It does mean respecting yourself, taking care of yourself, and having a balanced perspective.  This is a process.  Perfection isn’t possible, but imperfect progress is.

I am imperfectly progressing and I invite you join me on this journey.

Blessings to you,



  • Karissa Bettendorf

    Currently second trimester of my first pregnancy, I really needed to read this today! Thanks for sharing Melissa and reminding me that my beauty doesn’t change with my changing body.

    November 24, 2015 at 3:38 pm
    • melissaClark
      Melissa Clark

      Thank you for sharing! Excited for you…you’re going to be an amazing mother!

      November 24, 2015 at 4:28 pm

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