Your Body Is NOT Awkward

5:00 AM

I'm sorting through the paradoxical truth that nakedness in inappropriate places is shameful while at the same time embracing the body as a beautiful creation of God that is to be celebrated, not blushed over.

This much I know: indecency is indecent. Let's not celebrate indecency. That is indeed tacky.

Having said that, our bodies and their functions in and of themselves are not awkward or embarrassing. As soon as we fall into the trap of getting awkwarded out over our own bodies or bodily functions, over things traditionally noted as taboo for polite discussion in the Victorian era, we deny God's creative hand. We deny the little beauty and goodness left in a world marred by sin.

I've noticed that painful self-consciousness, to the point of awkwardness, is prevalent in circles of teenage Christian girls. Bodies are just awkward at that point in time. Weird things happen to teenage bodies -- things that seem to beg to be hidden away. (You know, I'm convinced acne is the thorn in the flesh for girls to teach them humility. There is just no other explanation for that obnoxious blight.)

While little girl bodies change into women's bodies, it becomes confusing juggling the purity movement's constant chatter of hiding your body away so men won't lust after you and the self-esteem movement's constant affirmations that you look great. It becomes confusing trying to uphold decency and pretend certain bodily functions don't exist while at the same acknowledging the reality of an ever-changing body.

For me, personally, bodies freaked me out. I never joked about "putting your big girl panties on" because it referenced underwear or joined in the changing room discussions about periods or used the word "pregnant" or "naked" or "throw up." Tossing on a new t-shirt amid a group of girls was absolutely out of the question -- I'll take the securely locked bathroom stall, thank you very much. I blushed painfully when a family member would playfully jab at a sibling passing gas or burping. And never, ever did "sex" come up at all...except that one time when a sibling mispronounced the word "six" during a game.

I don't think this irrational fear, this intense awkwardness, is a healthy way to live. This crosses the line of desiring decent conversation and conduct and instead borders on denial of normal bodily functions that sometimes need to be discussed in proper context.

The solution is not to make crude jokes in mixed company or develop an extensive repertoire of potty humor. It's just to not make things awkward. When you must wander through the women's underwear section, there's no need to shield your eyes and make a mad dash through the aisles. It's just underwear. Everybody's got to wear it. When you must ask your mother a question about parts of the body that aren't normally discussed, there's no need to work up courage for two weeks and then blushingly hand your mother a note explaining the issue so you don't have to say the words yourself. It's just a body. Everybody has a body. You don't need to shriek when a women's swimsuit ad pops up while you're shopping for summer maxi dresses. You're a girl. She's a girl. Get over it. Same goes if a men's swimsuit ad pops up right after it -- surprise! Men have naked chests under their shirts! So? Just don't dwell on it. (The subject of whether she ought to be wearing a bikini or whether he ought to bare his chest to the world is different.) And if your little brother passes gas at a terribly awkward moment during church, just wink at him and say nothing. Unless it becomes a habit -- in which case, instruct him to take his more unpleasant bodily functions to the nearest restroom.

When other people's bodies and bodily functions become normal, your own body becomes normal. That might not entirely erase the self-consciousness problem, but it's a start. And it's much more freeing to know that I'm living inside a beautifully created body instead of being trapped inside a shameful collection of awkward bodily functions.

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5 impressions

  1. I always find your posts so thought-provoking!

    I totally agree with what you're saying here. I've always been a terribly private person myself about these kind of things, and I've always had a hard time even asking my mom questions. I wish I wasn't that way! Because you're right, it shouldn't have to be so awkward. It just makes life way more complicated...especially for young girls.

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  2. Right on!
    And here's a completely stupid video about that awkward stage of life..and acne. :)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mR8-loJNpU
    Love you!

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  3. Bahahaha! I LOVE that video! I cracked up all the way through it. :D

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  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaQ1CdISw8o

    ;)

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  5. I completely understand where you are coming from here. It took me about a year of working in a hospital before I wouldn't get embarrassed about people talking about their bodily functions and even vomiting in front of me. But I very quickly worked out that my embarrassment was making my patients feel ashamed of their bodies and it all went downhill from there. It's normal. It's like cleaning. You don't need to talk about how you vacuumed or washed the dishes. Not exciting, not a subject of fascination, just necessary.

    By the way, your blog IS a subject of fascination. You have a very interesting array of topics.

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