A new European marketing campaign is championing the “cosmetically challenged” fruits and vegetables that are often wasted because stores assume that no one will buy them. (In Canada, an estimated 25 million pounds of fresh produce is wasted every year.) Produce such as deformed carrots or apples fused together, thrown away by farmers as unsellable, are now on some produce aisles. Shoppers are appreciating fresh produce at discount prices.
As a result of the campaign, how the public perceives the misshapen beauties – not the produce itself – has changed.
The public perception of the standard of beauty – whether it is an apple or a woman – is modeled by what we see portrayed in the media. In the case of people, this is especially a result of the relentless critique of celebrities. The majority of women believe the media sets an unrealistic standard of beauty that most can never achieve.
The pressure to measure up to certain social or cultural ideals can lead to serious health issues – both mental and physical. And, how we perceive ourselves underlies and can alter our sense of self-esteem and the healthy or unhealthy behaviors we engage in as a result.
Yet, each of us has a choice. We can transform how we think about ourselves by rejecting the media’s view and seeking a more spiritual view that focuses on our divinely unique qualities and characteristics. This change needs to begin and be nurtured from within.
Trina Hall, a Dallas based yoga instructor and health guru, learned this lesson and shared her story on Good Morning America. To change her perception of her body, she stopped critiquing what she saw in the mirror. During this process, she says she discovered this: ‘my most shocking discovery is that I’m afraid of not being loved.’ She noted: ‘if its going to start somewhere, it has to start from within.’
But how does one go about loving oneself in a cosmetically-imaged perfect world?
One of the two great commandments Jesus gave in the Scriptures is to ‘love others as you love yourself.’ Do we love ourselves? Not when we accept media messages and images as the standards for our own bodies, and then criticize what we see in the mirror if it doesn’t live up to that.
To find the image of yourself that you can love, you have to start at the beginning – with your Creator. As a creation of the Divine (see Genesis 1:26), you are a beloved idea, and that love is not dependent on what your body looks like. What could have more value than being a reflection of an infinite source of goodness? This reflection gives us a better sense of identity and self-esteem.
I recently read about a woman who, unhappy with her body image, developed an eating disorder that threatened not only her health, but also the health of her unborn baby. In her deep desire to protect the baby and be free from the ‘urge to purge’, she turned to prayer. This prayer gave her a deep sense of being worthy of God’s love and she was completely freed of the eating disorder. The pregnancy and the birth were normal and healthy.
If we can change our perception about produce, how much more important might it be to change our perception of ourselves?
This article was published in several Metroland online papers, including Inside Ottawa Valley