Loving the Body You’re Born With
About the Guest
How do we learn to appreciate the shape God has given us? On today's broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with author Sharon Jaynes, vice president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, actress and television host Nancy Stafford, and author Nancy Leigh DeMoss about loving your body.
books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—...moremoremore
How do we learn to appreciate the shape God has given us?
Nancy Stafford: That's maybe the biggest lie of all, because then when you feel beautiful, then the old thing kicks in of you're constantly looking over your shoulder – but how beautiful am I compared to her? So then the focus becomes being the thinnest, the prettiest, the fairest, at the party, because we’re so desperate for that affirmation, and we love the attention that it garners us.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, August 4th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Do you find yourself doing that, comparing your looks with other women? Is that sinful to do? We’re going to talk about that today.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition.
Dennis: Bob, have you ever heard the statement “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes all the way to the bone.”
Bob: Now, are you sure you want to start things off with that today? Come on!
Dennis: Yes, I do, because we’re talking about beauty this week, and it’s really good stuff. But there’s something ugly that is taking place. We’re having to take a hard look at a number of stations that FamilyLife Today is aired on and the donations simply aren’t there to pay for syndication and production costs. Frankly that’s my definition of ugly, because we’re all about helping marriages and families.
So, what we’re doing is, we’re coming to you asking for 100 people a day who have never given a gift to FamilyLife Today.
Bob: 100 new donors each day during the month of August. Right?
Dennis: Someone who has never gone online and made a donation, or called the 800 number. We’re looking for 2500 new donors this month. We need to hear from you. My challenge to you is simply this: go online or pick up the phone and call 1-800-FL-TODAY and say, I want to be one of the 100 today. When you call you might ask and see how we’re doing this week.
Bob: We’ve got online a kind of progress report going. So, you can go to FamilyLifeToday.com, and keep tabs on how we’re doing toward this goal of 2500 new first-time donors this month. And there’s an additional incentive for those who will make a donation this week. Since we’re talking about beauty, our friends over at VeggieTales have just produced a brand new DVD called “Sweet Pea Beauty.” It’s a re-telling of the Sleeping Beauty story and it focuses on a biblical view of beauty. They agreed to make available a number of these DVDs so that we can send one to everybody who makes a first time donation to FamilyLife Today this week. So, if you’re one of the folks who jumps on board right away…
Dennis: One of the first 500….
Bob: All you have to do is call or go online, make a donation of any amount. If it’s a first-time donation, we’ll send you the DVD. If you go online, there’s a button there that says “first time donor.” If you call 1-800-FLTODAY just mention that this is your first donation and you’d like to receive the DVD, and we’ll send it out to you
Dennis: I just want to challenge you. We were laughing at the beginning about this being ugly. It really isn’t any fun. If you want us to keep doing what we’re doing, we need to hear from 100 of you today to say, “You know what, Bob, Dennis, keep going, stand firm, I want the VeggieTales DVD, and I want to be one of the 2500 first-time donors this month.
Bob: Once again, the toll-free number, 1-800-FL-TODAY, or go online at FamilyLifeToday.com
I'm sure that we’ve got listeners who have been listening this week as we've talked about beauty, and they’ve thought to themselves, "Well, yeah, I mean, here you are talking with these three women, and I've seen them. Nancy Stafford has been on that Matlock TV show, and I know she is a beautiful woman; I've seen Sharon Jaynes' picture on the back of her books, I know she is a beautiful woman; I've been to Revive our Hearts website, or I've seen Nancy Leigh DeMoss at a conference, I know she's a beautiful woman.
“Why didn't you get some ugly women to talk about the subject of beauty? Why didn't you get the real story from those of us – you've got these beautiful women talking about it. It's not a big deal for them. Yeah, so what do you have to say about that? Why didn't you get some ugly women?"
Dennis: I didn't take the phone call.
Well, we are talking about beauty with three delightful women, and Nancy, Sharon, and Nancy Leigh, welcome back to FamilyLife Today. We're going to talk about the subject of body image, body shape, body size in a culture where thin is in. Now, Nancy Stafford, you work as an actress in Hollywood. Thin is in in Hollywood.
Nancy Stafford: Thin—impossible, unattainable thin is in. But, I have to tell you, not only are these images impossible and unattainable—because we’ve felt like we have to look this particular way—not only are they unattainable, but they're really not who they appear to be.
I host a show now; I have for the last eight years, called Main Floor. It's a fashion lifestyle trends show – secular TV but a very balanced show. I was recently walking through the art department of a large national fashion magazine I cannot name. They were working on the cover featuring a model that everybody would know. She is, I think, the most "perfect" body on Planet Earth. This woman is astoundingly beautiful. And I watched in horror while the art director airbrushed the equivalent of three inches off of each of her thighs. They did it to her! How can we measure up?
Dennis: And not to you.
Nancy Stafford: Yes, and they don't do it to me, thank you very much. What's that guy's name and number? But I realized how can we possibly measure up, and we can't. I think so much of it is we're this culture of strivers – whatever we have, whoever we are, we're just never enough.
Dennis: And that's what's on the magazines.
Nancy Stafford: Oh, yes, that's what you see. I want to read you something else. This was an actual list–a touch-up list that a photographer had on the bill that he charged to another large fashion magazine for the cover shoot of a very famous movie star that everybody would know, too–a beautiful woman, about a 40-year-old movie star that everybody–is the epitome of beauty.
Dennis: Oh, come on, tell us.
Nancy Stafford: I can't, I just can't.
Dennis: Tell us who she was.
Nancy Stafford: I'll give you the initials later. This is the list – this was his job from the magazine when they said, "We love the picture of her, but here is what we'd like you to do. Clean up complexion, soften eye lines, soften smile lines, add color to lips, trim chin, remove necklines, add highlights to earrings, add blush to cheek, remove stray hair, adjust color and add hair on top of head, soften neck muscle, remove extra skin under arm, add forehead to create better line, narrow waist for better line.” No wonder we can never look like them! They don’t look like them!
Bob: That’s a great point!
Dennis: A complete computer enhanced…?
Nancy Stafford: It's complete computer-enhanced version and those, unfortunately, are the images that our 12-, 13-, 14-year-old daughters on up to us women in our 50s, 60s, and 70s are trying to attain.
Bob: I have to ask you, because you are – how tall are you?
Nancy Stafford: Five-nine.
Bob: Five-nine, and the other Nancy – how short are you?
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Five-one.
Dennis: Now, our listeners could not just see the look that Nancy Leigh DeMoss …
Bob: …she shot me one, didn't she?
Dennis: Bob is dead right now.
Bob: Because I was just asking–did you always consider yourself to be tall and gangly and wish you weren’t?
Nancy Stafford: …oh, way tall, and, yeah, oh, always. I grew up with a horrible self-image.
Bob: Have you always wished that you were taller than you are?
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: No, I don't mind being short, but I would like not to be quite as wide.
Bob: And, Sharon, I didn't ask you–you're kind of right in the middle, right?
Sharon Jaynes: I'm right in the middle – I'm at five-five.
Bob: Have you wish to be taller or shorter?
Sharon Jaynes: I haven't thought much about my height. That's not been an issue. There have been plenty of other things that have been an issue, but height was not one of them.
Bob: I think unless your height is at an extreme, unless you're really short or really tall, you probably–as long as you kind of blend in, height is probably not an issue. And yet I've known tall girls who were growing up, and their dad always said, "You know, fashion models, it's great for them to be tall." Did you hear that growing up?
Nancy Stafford: No, because it would never have happened in my life. I mean, it was the farthest thing I could ever imagine, being a fashion model.
Bob: But it did happen–you became a fashion model. You became Miss Florida.
Dennis: It did. But for you, Nancy, it happened out of an unusual family situation–the kind of family you grew up in.
Nancy Stafford: Yes, I grew up in an amazing, unusual family, and I am so grateful for the family that I grew up in, because I learned at a very early age what real beauty is. My dad had polio when he was a child, and he had a very decided, very exaggerated limp. My mother has been obese all of her life and has now been in a wheelchair for 20 years. My brother is six-four and always battled his weight and has had numerous amputations as a result of diabetes.
And there was an incident that happened, when I was five years old, in a shopping mall. I was a little, tiny kid–I always was accustomed to people looking at our family and kind of staring a little longer than polite, but this particular incident pierced me to the core, because suddenly this little family came, and the father started elbowing the little kid, and they all started pointing and snickering, and then they started imitating our family.
This little girl started dragging her leg like a monster in a horror film, and the boy puffed out his cheeks and waddled like a fat person, and I thought, "What are they doing?" I looked over and actually saw my family for the first time–the way the world looks at us–and it broke my heart, because these folks are the most beautiful people I've ever seen. The Lord lives inside of them, and they have always exemplified the qualities of the Lord.
So from an early age, even though I was plagued with a lot of rejection and ridicule myself growing up, because of my appearance, I learned that it really is what's going on in the inside; that God does not look at the outside like man looks at it. But He looks at the heart.
Bob: But you wound up in an industry that thinks just the opposite.
Nancy Stafford: Oh, yes.
Bob: An industry that could care less what's on the inside as long as you can pretend to be somebody different for a while …
Nancy Stafford: …and maintain that outside for a very long time.
Bob: That's right. I just have to ask you today because you're in an industry where people will go to drastic measures to maintain physical appearance. There is a lot of plastic surgery that goes on, augmentation of certain body parts or trimming of other body parts and liposuction if you're too heavy, and all kinds of cosmetic plastic surgery. Now, is that wrong, from a biblical standpoint, for somebody to say, "You know, I wish my lips were thinner. I wish my … "?
Dennis: …"my nose was shorter."
Bob: "Maybe it's just a facelift – I just want my skin to be a little tighter." Is that okay for a Christian?
Dennis: I want to ask all three of the ladies to weigh in on this one.
Bob: Okay. We'll start with the one who is living right in the middle of Plastic Surgery City, okay?
Nancy Stafford: I have a hard time answering that question, because I have a hard time answering it for myself. I don't think I really want to ever do that. However, I can't guarantee that I never would.
Dennis: Let me ask you a question about that – is that because you have a biblical conviction?
Nancy Stafford: No.
Dennis: It's just a personal preference of your own?
Nancy Stafford: Yes, it's a personal preference of my own. But what I really think the bigger issue is–what motivates us to want to have to be different than we are, anyway? I think it goes back to that core issue we talk about, which is where do we find our security? Where is our identity? Is it in the response we get from other people by maintaining a particular look or is it in knowing what our identity in Christ is all about and who He says we are from the Scriptures.
Dennis: That's a big deal for you to say that, because you work in an industry where it's nearly all judged on the exterior.
Nancy Stafford: Oh, yes.
Dennis: So you're going against …
Nancy Stafford: …I am not ensuring employment for myself, in other words.
Dennis: Right, right.
Nancy Stafford: Yes, and, see, I think I look like an average 50-year-old person. However I have to tell you a very quick story. A few years ago I was 44. I hadn't worked in a while. You know, when you pick and choose, and you're saying “no” to a lot of roles that you don't feel appropriate, then the industry doesn't look favorably upon you.
But I read for a movie a few years ago, and I did a killer audition, which I never say. It was for a 45-year-old mother of teenagers–a redemptive, beautiful story of forgiveness. I called my agent–"This is mine, I know I got it. I just nailed it." And she called me back a few minutes later hemming and hawing.
She never hemmed and hawed. She said, "You know, they love you. They thought you did great. You were the best person they read but, Nancy, how old are you?" And I said, "Well," at the time, "I’m 44 years old. The role calls for a woman in her mid-40s." She said, "Yeah, I told the director you were in your mid-40s," and he said, "Oh, my gosh, oh, no. Oh, you've got to be kidding, she looks at least 55."
I thought, you know, nothing is wrong with 55 but just not yet. And you know what? I hated my reaction. I hated my reaction—but living in this culture and certainly in Hollywood, but everywhere we live–I travel all over the place, as does Sharon, doing these conferences, and I meet women in some of the most surprising places who have had extensive plastic surgery who are in churches, in ministries, it's not just a Hollywood thing. It's gone extremely mainstream.
Dennis: Oh, no, it finds its way into the church.
Nancy Stafford: And it's not–I'm not saying that it is a bad thing. I'm not saying that if you really love Christ then you should never have any plastic surgery. What I am saying is this: I think that you have to get down to the core of who am I living for, where do I find my worth and my value, and where do I find my true beauty?
Bob: A little botox – would you go for that? Around the eyes, huh? Yes? No, on botox?
Nancy Stafford: No, I'm a scaredy cat. I think that botulism thing is just too scary.
Bob: Sharon, what about you? Let's jump ahead 10 years, and some of the wrinkle lines are starting to show now, and maybe the chin is not as tight as it used to be, and you're looking, and you're going, "You know, I just would like to look a little younger." Would you go under the knife?
Sharon Jaynes: Well, you know, I'm going to have to agree with Nancy. I will never say never about anything like that. I'd hate to say that today and 20 years from now something happened, and I would need to do that. Again, we can look at extremes.
I have seen so many–let's just take children with deformities–and my husband works with oral surgeons, and we've seen people come in with deformities. I've watched them correct them, and I've seen how a slight change for a child or a woman who has struggled with something that is really horrible looking. What a difference it can make. I think it goes back to, like what Nancy said, that we have to look at what's on the inside and the reason why we are doing it, and we have to ask ourselves what is enough? How much is enough?
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And what is my goal? If my goal is to glorify God with my life here on earth, and I'm not going to be in this endless, frenetic, frantic, futile search for youth when I'm not young. I actually am one of the few women on the planet who hasn't colored her hair.
Bob: I was going to ask you about that, because you are–we would say "prematurely gray."
Nancy Stafford: Yes, I started in my 20s and, actually, I did color my hair for a while up into my 30s, but the point came when I said, you know, it was a headache to just keep it fresh and keep doing it, and I wasn't crazy about doing it, but everybody else was doing it. Then I thought, "I'm old enough now to have gray hair. This is okay.” My goal in life – and people laugh at me–has always been, since I was a little girl, to be a godly old lady.
I kind of had this picture of what that meant, and I'm not sure it's the right picture, and I know the old part comes more easily than the godly part, but I just said, "It's okay to have gray hair." I'm not saying if somebody else doesn't want it, there's a problem with that, but I do think you've got to check your heart and say, "What is my motive?"
I sat across the table from a former Miss America who had competed in two different state pageants over the course of several years, and she told me the horror story of how, in one state, their standard was one thing and the people who ran the pageant there told her, "You need to have this kind of corrective measures, you need to have this kind of surgery to fix this part of your nose," or whatever it was. She got all that done.
Then she went to the next state, competed in the next pageant and found out their standards were different. They wanted to reverse or undo or redo what she had already had done, I said, "Who wants to live with that?" I want to live–I found myself thinking this morning, as I knew we were going to be talking about this subject, and I was thinking about beauty, and I began to sing that old chorus–some of our listeners have probably never heard it, but it's my heart's desire. It's "may the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, all His passion and purity, oh, thou Savior divine, all my spirit refine 'til the beauty of Jesus be seen in me."
That's what I want to do. I don't want to show them a 25-year-old – you know, not real airbrushed version – I want to be 45 and then 55 and then 65, and—if the Lord tarries—85 and show them what that looks like.
Nancy Stafford: And I think, even to take it to the next step of beyond the plastic surgery part, aging gracefully, but I think it also–we need to view this in terms of how we're dressing as we age. There is nothing sadder than to see a 40 or 45-year-old woman trying to dress like her 20-year-old daughter and doing the hair and everything and the makeup and the clothes.
Bob: Well, there is one thing sadder, and that's seeing a seven-year-old girl, and you've seen them at these little pageants, trying to look like they're 22.
Nancy Stafford: It's horrible.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And it comes back to accepting the season and the stage of life where God has me and my body, as He designed it. Now, some things are changeable, but the things that aren't, we have to come to acceptance and to say, "Thank you, Lord, for the body You gave me.” I can't change the fact that I’m five-one. Now, I may be able to change some other parts of me…
Bob: You could wear heels. You could do that.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I could wear heels. Though, if you wear them too high, that’s dangerous. But I think to say, “Thank you Lord for who you made me, how you made me. I receive that as a gift from You, and I give it back to You as my gift to You – my expression of worship and gratitude to You.”
Bob: Of course, that’s not the message that the culture is sending to young women. I guess we shouldn’t expect that they’re going to send a biblical message. But, as moms and dads, we need to start when our daughters are young, helping them think that way. It’s counter-cultural thinking. It’s counter-flesh thinking. But, it’s thinking rightly and biblically about being made by God and being grateful for His design of me.
That’s the message that’s at the core of the new DVD that our friends over at VeggieTales have just put out, called “Sweet Pea Beauty.” Where they’ve taken the Sleeping Beauty story, and retold it the way they do. But at the heart of the story is all about looking at beauty rightly, looking at it biblically. When we heard about the DVD, we thought, this is something that we wanted to put in the hands of moms and grandmothers so that their daughters and granddaughters can start watching this and start getting the message, start countering the culture with a more biblical approach to how we think about what is true beauty.
Of course, this month, here at FamilyLife, we’re hoping that we can get to know some of our listeners who we don’t currently know. A lot of our listeners we’ve gotten to know you over the years because you’ve come to our events or you’ve helped support the ministry of FamilyLife Today by making a donation to help underwrite the costs of this program. We are listener supported. So those donations are what have made today’s program possible.
In recent days, our team has gotten together and we’ve had to look hard at our budget. We may have to do some pruning given our current financial situation. And we may have to go through another round of pruning again. But our hope is that those of you who are regular listeners and you’ve never made a donation, we’re hoping you would consider this month, stepping up and saying “I want to help.” So if you’ll make a donation this month of any amount to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, if you’ve never made a donation before, we’d like to invite you to receive a copy of this VeggieTales DVD, called “Sweet Pea Beauty” as our thank you gift for becoming—not a new friend, because you’ve been a friend, we just haven’t known who you were.
So, for stepping up and saying, “I want to help support the ministry.” You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com. When you do, there’s a button there that says “first time donor,” if you just click that button and fill out the donation form online, we’ll send you a copy of the DVD. Or call, 1-800-FL-TODAY, you can make a donation over the phone, just mention that it’s your first donation that you listen to FamilyLife Today and that you’d like the DVD. Again, we’re happy to send it out to you as a way of saying thank you for your support of this ministry.
By the way, thanks to all of you who help support this ministry. We very much appreciate your partnership with us in making the ministry of FamilyLife Today possible. We love hearing from you. We love being able to pray for you. We love being connected with you. So, thanks for your ongoing support of this ministry.
Let me also mention, if you do go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, we have copies of the books that our guests have written on the subject of biblical beauty. Nancy Stafford has written a book called Beauty By the Book¸ Sharon Jaynes, has a book called Becoming Spiritually Beautiful, Nancy Leigh DeMoss has written a booklet called A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood, and all three of those resources are in our FamilyLifeToday Resource Center. You can order them from us online if you’d like.
There is also a button at our website FamilyLifeToday.com that will take you to the True Woman ‘10 website. Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and the Revive Our Hearts team are going to be hosting two conferences this fall, One in Indianapolis, in September, and then in Fort Worth in October. Conferences for women. Nancy’s going to be speaking at them, I’m going to be there as well. A number of great speakers are going to be on hand for these events. You can find out more when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com, and click on the link to the True Woman ’10 website.
Now, tomorrow we’re going to talk about beauty and modesty. I think there are some people who look at the whole issue of beauty and think, you’re not really being beautiful unless you’re being provocative, or sexy. We're going to talk about that tomorrow. I hope our listeners can be back with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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