Body Image/Healthy Body/Healthy Mind/Healthy Soul/My Life/Teen Life Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall by Rhady Taveras When we look in the mirror, it’s usually to check our appearance. We ask ourselves if we look OK or if we need to change something. But why do we care so much about how we look? The default answer is usually, “I do it for me,” but do we really do it for ourselves? As summer sun falls upon us, we prepare ourselves for more social appearances and gatherings. We dust off our bucket lists, stock up on sun-protective products, and shop for the latest summer trends, all while seriously contemplating how we can squeeze in that last-minute fitness routine to get our #beachbodies ready for #summer2018. The summer is supposed to be a worry-free time, so why are insecurities at an all-time high? A slave to the reflection It all started in fifth grade when I was the first in my class to reach puberty. While I was mortified, everyone else was astonished. The girls curiously looked up to me and the boys swarmed me, adoring my developing figure. The attention was flattering at first, but then it began to spiral out of control. In order to keep up with appearances, I followed the newest trends and behaved in ways that drew attention to myself. As my personal life and social media routines revolved more around the satisfaction of others, my freedom and ability to love myself was slowly deteriorating. I quickly lost sight of who I was and who I wanted to be. I was no longer living for myself, as the opinions of others had officially taken over my life. Insecurities come in all shapes and sizes While I seemed put together on the outside, I was falling apart on the inside. Everyone around me admired my “confidence” — but only God and I knew that it was all an act. I knew that if I was honest and open about my flaws, I would lose the credibility I had worked so hard for. So I did what any pressure-induced individual would: I built a wall and suppressed any chance of transparency. My biggest insecurity was my acne. I envied how others could easily hide their body under clothes, but my face was always front and center for everyone to see. Classmates would say I was privileged for being skinny and popular, but no one could see how torn I was internally. With this “privilege” came the inability to truly express myself. Every time I tried, my peers told me I wasn’t allowed to complain, discrediting my feelings and reminding me that I was locked into this lifestyle. I felt alone, saddened by the thought that no one would ever understand. I recently discussed the topic with some friends and it served as a reminder that my concerns were more common than I thought. One of them described how all she sees when she looks in the mirror is her weight. She spoke of how haunting it is — being the first thing she recognizes when she wakes up and the last thought she ruminates before bedtime. She joked that she’s “too fat to function,” but it’s heartbreaking to witness how her reflection interrupts her willingness to socialize and go about her day peacefully. It was also daunting to see that guys struggle with this too. Another friend admitted that he is incredibly intimidated by the idea of someone always being better than him. He claims that it’s hard not to feel judged in our society because there are so many expectations of what a real man is. He struggles with wanting to change himself for social acceptance — creating a character that society demands and compromising the man God is calling him to be. It’s important to note that our insecurities are unique to our experiences and just because someone else’s are different from yours doesn’t make their struggle is less important. Shattering the glass Now, take a second to ponder, what do you see in your reflection? In an ideal world, you would not be defined by your physical appearance. Unfortunately, the world we live in tends to set unrealistic goals, constantly reminding us that we are not good enough. Popular culture insists that our posts need alterations before being shared and that surgical enhancements define beauty. With everything the world throws at us, we tend to forget that one of God’s greatest creations is our heavenly body. We dishonor and mistreat it as if it is not sacred, but our value is beyond anything we can see in a mirror. When you catch yourself dreading what you see in the mirror, SHATTER that thought. Instead, try a new lens through which to see yourself. Rather than letting your reflection be that of the world’s, allow it to be one that is filtered through the lens of God. The lens He used to create you perfectly in His image (Genesis 1:27). Instead of finding ways to be likeable — find ways to seek holiness. A virtuously fit lifestyle When we strive for holiness, we begin to see and love ourselves the way Christ sees and loves us. All we have to do is embrace the person He created us to be by allowing ourselves to be a testament of His love. I can testify that accepting this in my life has made me healthier in every way. I am happier when I live in the knowledge of God’s presence and my role as His daughter. I am thoughtful as I grow in curiosity to know Him and the world He has provided for me. I am wiser as I have learned to take advantage of my surroundings and find lessons in all of my experiences. I am more physically and psychologically fit as the awareness of His infinite love literally boosts my energy to be active — for my personal health and in service to my community. I’ve discovered that I am the strongest I’ve ever been and with the same awareness, you can have all of these things too. If you’re looking to strengthen yourself emotionally, spiritually, and physically, my personal trainer has truly helped me witness results. He’s available 24/7 and intends nothing more than to help you recognize the beauty and potential you have to offer. He understands your struggle because He’s also suffered, overcoming His doubts and insecurities as testimony. He advocates for the importance of sacrifice and, instead of coaching from the sidelines, He runs alongside you. He’s even inspired great authors to come together and write the world’s bestselling self-help book. I guarantee you that, with His guidance and support, you will endure an everlasting transformation. He’s the best trainer to ever live — His name is Jesus Christ. Why not reach out and see for yourself?