What Are You Feeding On: Media Habits and Body Image Issues

    Today we’re talking about all things music, television, movies, and social media. If you want to be free from body image issues, chances are you’re going to have to re-examine how you are relating to these forms of media. It’s impossible to stay free if you are feeding on a constant diet of unhealthy images and messages. For Christian women who want body image freedom, we have to carefully evaluate every thing we are consuming with our eyes and our ears, much in the same way we were carefully evaluating everything we consumed with our mouths. Only, it may be what you consume with your eyes and your ears are even more harmful to your body image issues than anything you’d eat!

    Heather confesses to getting sucked in by a famous body makeover plan’s ads on YouTube and discusses how easy it is to be affected and influenced by the messages we hear and see. She also talks about God is the only one we know who doesn’t have an ulterior motive for our lives. When God tells us something or asks something of us, it’s not so he can get our money or win us over–it’s for our good and His glory. Marketers have a much different quest.

    Ready to be free from body image issues? Consider Christian body image coaching with Heather. Learn more at: www.improvebodyimage.com

    Today’s show is sponsored by Classical Conversations. Learn more about this fantastic homeschool community that Heather and her family have used for more than a decade. Visit: www.classicalconversations.com/comparedtowho

    Here’s a Transcript of Today’s Show about Media Habits and Body Image Issues:

    You cannot stay free if you are on an Instagram, You Tube, or Facebook diet. You cannot. Your mind will be constantly challenged – old neural pathways that are well-worn will be lit up again as you see before and after images and diet ads.

    Everytime I watch anything on You Tube – even a worship video – I get the VShred ad – investigated it… do an episode on that another day… but it is difficult to look at images and messages all day and night and then believe what God says about you.


    Marketers have one job – to make you discontent with your life so you’ll buy something. I heard once in church recently how God is the only one you know doesn’t have any ulterior motives for your life – he’s not telling you he loves you so that you will buy something from him… his plan for your life is not so you can feed a need He has – God doesn’t need us – but he wants us – which is a line from one of my favorite Tenth Avenue North songs titled Control.

    So, what are you feeding on? What are you consuming and digesting all day long? 

    This is the number one question you have to ask yourself everytime you feel your body image issues flare up.

    No matter how much you’ve worked through this and how much healing you’ve experienced – a steady diet of social media can and will set you back. I shared a few weeks ago on this show that I was in a rough patch -feeling down and recognized that I had been on Instagram a lot – now I was doing it for “work” – trying to post to reach you and let others know about the show AND most of my feed are people doing the same things I do – non-diet dietitians, people actually communicating similar messages to me that should encourage me-but every once and a while an ad or something else would seep through and just even those few posts were enough to drag me down — I’m talking just after 2-3 weeks – that I had to take it off my phone again.

    If you do have to be on socials for work -there’s a way with Facebook to just put alink to group pages on your phone so you don’t have to scroll to find your business info – so I encourage all my clients who need facebook to do that. Similary – we have a facebook community and if you find it helpful and encouraging you can do a link just to that community page on your phone so you don’t have to get on facebook looking for other things to get encouragement on this front.

    So – right now – we’re going to just do a little exercise together. I want you to stop and take 2-3 deep breaths… just breath in and out deeply… calm your central nervous system down a bit and then I want you to ask yourself – What have I been feeding on?

    Just wait a minute and see what comes up for you… What answer do you hear in your heart and your head?

    Allow the Holy Spirit to gently show you if you’ve been spending too much time on social media or Netflix or maybe even reading or watching things that are dangerous for your heart and soul in other ways. Remember – the Holy Spirit convicts us and he doesn’t shame or condemn us. If he’s showing you something right now – you’ll sense it as a whisper almost… it may be so faint that you want to write it off as just something in your head… but listen to that…

    If you hear a “shame on you… you’re messing up … I can’t believe you watching that stuff all the time …you know better”  Friend that is the voice of the enemy – so tell it to shut up now, in the name of Jesus…you don’t have to take advice from him.

    So, what do you do if you hear the conviction – well friend you have to work on changing your habits.

    Let’s start with your phone habits. Do you need to take the social media apps off your phone? Or do you need to put better boundaries around them – like maybe you only have social media on your phone 3 days a week – and I mean taking the app off and putting it back on again. I promise you it feels clunky -but it really only takes 90 seconds to reinstall the app and Facebook and Instagram remember my password so I don’t even sign in again.

    What do you need to do?

    Is Netflix or movies or TV your challenge?

    Do you come home and immediately turn on the TV? Maybe you need the noise or the noise helps you relax? I get that…Especially if I’m alone I like to have the TV on… but what are you watching? 

    Seriously – I shared this a few weeks ago – but I was watching a sitcom – King of Queens and there was diet and weight talk in like 1/3 of the shows… Even older sitcoms – like Full House can have lots of diet talk. I really like Candace Cameron Bure. She seems like she has a genuine heart for things of God. But it was hard for me to watch Fuller House without constantly comparing myself to those women and the way they dress and look. There were some themes through that show that weren’t great but overall, I’m talking about a clean show that was still hurting my body image. I’ve had clients share the same things with me about Hallmark movies or series like When Calls the Heart. They barely even kiss you’re not seeing skin. But yet, watching these shows can wear on your body image

    Maybe it’s not a clean show. Maybe you’re really into that series that just has a “few” bad things in it. And I know maybe you’ve said things to yourself like, “I can handle seeing skin. I just don’t want my husband to see it.” Friend, that’s just not true. I talk about using the H and H test for your media.  You have to ask yourself is it health and is it holy. By healthy, I mean does it improve your body image and your ability to see and view your body the way God does, or does it hurt your health. Do you stop believing you are made in his image and valuable in his sight and start fantasizing about restricting food or transforming your body to look better.  This ties into that holiness question too – do you feel greater affinity for God and the things of God after watching or looking at these things – or do you start to believe in the world’s economy and feel like you need to do something to make this life work better that is outside of God’s plan…

    Once you get sucked into the show – then it becomes a “I just need to know what happens” -But let me ask you – Is your mental health worth it to find out what happens to some fictional character? I know that’s a hard truth – I’m sorry – but, you will be okay to not know who he chose on the bachelor or how that series ends. Think about every other area of your life that your body image is affecting – your children, your marriage, your work, your ability to feel confident in God’s love and serve him, your insecurity, think about all these other areas your body image is affecting – and ask yourself if it is worth it to know what happens to these people you don’t know or characters who may not even be real – if watching them is affecting your body image!

    Please hear me. There’s no condemnation. I can only talk about all these issues because I’ve struggled through them. No shame or blame. I just want to encourage and help you be as free as possible this summer and all the time.

    Next, let’s talk about music. What are you listening to?

    I love music. I think music is fun. I used to have to curate collections of popular music to teach spin class- and I loved making those playlists. But, I’m recognizing that music can really mess with my body image too – even if it’s not a video I’m seeing…  The other day an old country song came on the radio and it was the song “What was I thinking” – and it’s about a guy that picks up his girlfriend against her dad’s will… and there’s part of the song where he says, “I was thinking about a little white tank top sitting right there in the middle by me…” and immediately I feel fat. I imagine the size of that imaginary woman in the song and think I’m not good enough that someone would feel that kind of passion for me. Same with another country song, that has a line “got those blue jeans painted on tight…” and I think… I cannot wear tight blue jeans and have anyone sing about it. Sounds so silly, right? But, these lines are triggering to me.

    What’s interesting is that pop music takes a different kind of angle – I’m findng that most current pop music feeds my pride – There’s a lot out right now that insinuates or says outright that you should just love yourself, and you don’t need a man, these kind of empowering – you are enough and you are awesome and just be your own awesome self and relish in your awesomeness – and that is a different kind of dangerous I think. Even though I don’t necessarily have that “I feel ugly” feeling after listening – I have more of a pride response – a “Yeah, heck yeah, I’m great and if you don’t see it… bug off…” and that’s not really any healthier. The answer to all of our body image issues – biblically – is more humility – not more pride. You will never be free through pride. Body pride is a trap – We can’t take pride in our bodies any more than we can take pride in our work or our bank accounts or accomplishments. Instead, scripture teaches us to esteem others as higher than ourselves and to love others as we already love ourselves and to esteem God and love him above all else. Nothing in this music makes me grateful to God for how he made me and makes me turn worship and praise back to him. Instead it makes me sort of – and this is weird to say – worship and praise myself.

    One final note on music, even if you say you just like the beat and the lyrics don’t matter – I want you to know that they get in there. They get in your head. They get in your heart. What you are feeding your mind through your music matters. I’m super sensitive to music – I know in my twenties I really got into a few bands that just downright depressed me… I slipped into a depression and it was highly connected to the music I was listening too.

    So, what are you listening too? Are you intentional about your music? These are the songs that will play in your heart and in your head – who are they worshipping? What are they making you meditate on? Are they feeding your mind in a healthy way or are they dragging you down, and making you feel bad.


    Again – You can eat whole foods and watch every ounce of your weight and obsess over all the things to get your body just right -but I promise you my friend – nothing you can feed on with your mouth is more important to healing our body image than what you are consuming with your eyes and ears…

    Think of that song from Sunday school. “Oh be careful little eyes what you see…oh be careful little ears what you hear.” The message there was God is watching – and that’s true…but instead of feeling shame around it, let’s reframe this to what is good for me? What is healthy? So many of us struggling with body image say “we just want to be healthy?” Okay, my challenge is to be healthy with what you feed your mind first.

    Next time I’m going to give you a playlist – an actual playlist of Christian songs that will help your body image – we’ll talk through that on the show next episode.