The Real Me

Joanie Butman

A shocking notification arrived in the mail this week. Apparently, the Wacoal iPant shaper I purchased years ago does not live up to its claim to reduce cellulite and thigh size. WHAT?!?! Why didn’t anyone tell me? I’ve been walking around for two years believing my butt and thighs were smooth and shapely. I can understand why my husband didn’t say anything – he doesn’t have a death wish, but where were my girlfriends who are the only ones who can deliver this kind of truth safely. In any event, the FTC sued Wacoal for making misleading claims not adequately supported by scientific data, and I was entitled to a refund – small consolation.

Though I swear by shapewear, I’ve always considered the Spanx revolution a gross misrepresentation. There are a slew of men wondering how the size 6 woman they met morphed into a size 10 overnight. It’s all smoke and mirrors. There are bras to add cup sizes, butt inserts to mimic Kim Kardashian, and full-length body suits guaranteeing to reduce your dress size. Add these to the myriad of available cosmetic enhancements and how does anyone know what the ‘real’ person looks like?

Not only that, recent articles have cautioned women that Spanx and Other Shapewear Are Literally Squeezing Your Organs,* causing health issues from acid reflux to incontinence. So you may look good – but at what cost?

On the other hand, when it comes to spiritual undergarments, smoke and mirrors won’t get you far. There’s no disguising the condition of your heart. There are those that attempt to fool others with religiosity (a form of spiritual Spanx creating an illusion of ‘holiness’), but there’s no hiding anything from Christ. He knows every crease and dimple of our souls – and loves us anyway. Of course we’re not worthy. He doesn’t love us because we’re worthy. He loves us because we’re His. When we fully grasp this certainty, we become free to bless rather than impress others.

When I have a spiritual concept to learn, God often tutors me through writing and the discussions that follow. Coupled with my previous blog, it’s obvious that accepting His unconditional love is a recurrent theme. As my friend said in response to last week’s post, “It sounds so easy, but it’s harder than doing, doing, doing. It starts with getting out of the way of myself and seeing myself the way He sees and loves me.” Amen, sister!

Christ’s unconditional love is a difficult truth for many of us to grasp because we, as humans, aren’t capable of it. A parent/child relationship is probably as close as we come, but not for everyone. We are trained from an early age to ‘earn’ the respect and approval of others. Now more than ever, society puts an enormous amount of pressure on the upcoming generation, constantly weighing and measuring their appearance and performance – and it never ends. This mentality has given rise to what some call the Deadly Ps: perfect, perform, pretend. Hence all the smoke and mirrors we spend countless hours and dollars creating, fearful of letting others see the real person.

If you’re feeling suffocated by spiritual shapewear (also known as shame), choose to let it all hang out to the only truly effective Higher Power – Jesus. He provides a much more comfortable ‘all-day embrace’ smoothing out our imperfections with His grace. Good Friday and Easter represent the cost He paid for us to appear flawless in God’s sight. It is finished. That’s a truth we can all choose to embrace and celebrate today and every day.

The following lyrics from Natalie Grant's The Real Me are a good reminder.

But you see the real me

Hiding in my skin, broken from within

Unveil me completely

I'm loosening my grasp

There's no need to mask my frailty

Cause you see the real me

And you love me just as I am

Wonderful, beautiful is what you see

When you look at me