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A Curvy Girl in the Real World

A Curvy Girl in the Real World
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"So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t."
Romans 12:6 (The Message)

During my childhood in the American southeast, it was often said there was a church on every street. This felt true. I had to learn to be myself as a follower of Jesus in a place where tradition ran deep.

Now I’m in Southeast Asia, and it seems there is a plastic surgery or weight loss center on every street. I’m a curvy girl in a culture where beauty ideals equal plastic doll “perfection.” I’m learning to not let insecurities about my body prevent me from getting to know people in my new context. Group fitness, something I enjoy, was a potent way for this journey to begin.

I expected some cultural friction when my curvy body walked into a circuit training class in my neighborhood’s gym last year. My red hair and freckles added an extra touch. The responses to a foreigner walking in ranged from surprised stares to indifference. A curious woman, who is now a friend, began grabbing certain body parts to see if they were enhanced or real. I invited her to ask questions instead. Several women offered hearty thumbs up, as though I had the moxie of a seventh grader with a massive pimple, walking into school with confidence. My presence evoked curiosity and cautious hospitality.

Something in me loved these women right away. I wanted to exercise with them every week to see what God would do in their lives and mine. So I asked myself this question: “What if I decide to simply be myself?”

For one year, I’ve been praying for my friends, refusing to pretend, and attending classes. Nothing has gone perfectly, but it has been beautiful. I’ve been challenged by new perspectives on health and fitness. Reactions to my “strange” body are fading. Before and after class, my friends and I have time to catch up, and I listen and answer with grace the Holy Spirit gives. In a culture where foreigners are regarded with suspicion, I’m finding community in my neighborhood gym. In a culture that idealizes unattainable beauty standards, God is challenging our thinking and helping us grow in the courage to be ourselves.

Closing Prayer
Jesus, Your life shines through me in unique ways when my thirst for self worth is satisfied in You. I want to let go of striving for worth through physical appearance or other accomplishments that can not give me what I'm searching for. Instead, I want my energy and thoughts turned toward the love that makes me secure forever. I am a woman that has been forgiven and joined forever to You, the Risen Christ. Give me the courage to simply be myself and live in peaceful trust. Amen.
Book: Compared to Who by Heather Creekmore Heather Creekmore's book is full of refreshingly real ideas and resources concerning body image. Check out her blog, too, at
Question for Reflection

What if I decide to simply be myself?

Chrissy Winslow
September 15, 2020

I am a woman who has been completely forgiven and united with the Risen Christ. Whether my body reflects the beauty standards of the culture around me or not, the life of Christ dwells in me. I cannot be separated from Him. I am God's treasured creation that He has redeemed and joined Himself with forever. That is my worth and truest identity; therefore to simply be myself is beautiful.