Rage against the beauty machine!

Georgene Rice of KPDQ-FM interviews Margot Starbuck, author of “Unsqueezed: Springing Free from Skinny Jeans, Nose Jobs, Highlights and Stilettos”, takes her readers on a journey to become unsqueezed, help readers discover why God really gave us bodies and what we can do with to serve him and others.

Georgene: Unsqueezed is such a great word to describe how so many of us live…We spend most of our life holding our stomach in. That’s the image we’re sort of squeezed into. Great title to describe how many woman live.

Margot: Thank you, the image that I have in my mind is the machine that they use at Mattel to produce Barbie Dolls, whatever squeezes into that perfect shape is what we’re doing to ourselves.

Georgene: We, as Christian women would like to think that we’re sort of above that, that we get it. But, more often that not, we are influenced by the culture as much as anybody and are preoccupied, maybe in a self-conscious, with our appearance and dissatisfied with ourselves.

Margot: I think you’re right…It’s hard to not believe what everything tells us in advertisers, that we’re really not good enough.

Georgene: Absolutely, it doesn’t matter what shape you’re in, it’s always the wrong shape and it’s always changing. The images that our culture produces are always airbrushed images and somehow we are living in an age that cultivates dissatisfaction because if you are merely a consumer, you have to be pretty much dissatisfied to order to get the next best thing. You’re book is designed to be very practical and you divide it into three parts: The Promise, The Purpose and The Plan. Describe for our listeners what you hope your readers will take away from your book.

Margot: The problem is that all of these images that bombard us in the media we try to form ourselves to become these images more than realize and we find ourselves in this pickle….You know what it’s like. The purpose, the plan is what God has in mind for these bodies. We’ve been conditioned to think about our bodies in terms of how they appear, some of us haven’t even begun to think what were they made to do. What was God’s intention for these bodies? And the final section, are some practical ways to live that out.

Georgene: You make the point, in the first part of the book that we are preoccupied with ourselves, and that is really a cultural virtue these days to be very self absorbed to the exclusion of more practical and healthy things. Describe for us, generally, the problem.

Margot: Yes, if I’m with girlfriends and someone is going on about a bad hair day or complaining about a “muffin top”…they go on and on, sort of preoccupied with themselves and they don’t leave room to welcome and acknowledge others. So, we just slip into that and it damages our relationship because it keeps us from being present to others.

Georgene: You write about lies, digital fluff and shame that’s part of this as well.

Margot: Absolutely, so what that shame sounds like is that enemies hiss that says, “You’re not really acceptable the way that you are.” And we swallow that in our deepest places and we believe that lie and the way God makes us. And we reach for products and plans and whatever we think will satisfy us.

Georgene: The are much more serious implications to this. If we have concluded that there is something wrong with our general makeup, then that says something about God and his design of us. Of his provision for us, of his intent for us. It undermines our confidence and security in God if we buy what the enemy is selling.

Margot: Absolutely, Genesis says, God looked over the whole creation, including the human beings he made and said, “It is good,” and “We don’t often live into that”. And I tell people that God loves you….sin is a different thing, when Jesus came in a body, he blessed the body….Actually the way God came to us, which is good news.

Georgene: You also write about objectification. That women are objectified. Women agree to the “thing-afication”, that we find in our culture.

Margot: That’s right, “thing-afication” is a theological word where people become objects…rather than a person who is worth knowing. We probably do it so often without even realizing it.

Georgene: The problem, as you pointed out earlier, seems pretty obvious…you write about the purpose of these bodies that we inhabit.

Margot: Yes, for any woman in our culture. God gave us these bodies to be in a relationship. And, at first it was almost a surprise that God gives us bodies to do stuff but then I think of my friends with disabilities. And I know it just can’t be about doing, but it’s really about relationships and our bodies are what allow us to be in relationship with one another…It’s that vehicle to love and serve and be with others.

Georgene: You write in your book, “recognizablility”, your water park epiphany. Tell our listeners a little about that.

Margot: One day at the water park, I was looking around at my kids and everyone else at the park, different heights, colors, shapes. And I realized that there is a person in each one of those packages. And I know some of us long to look like Barbie, Beyonce or Angelina Jolie, or whoever it is at the moment. If we all looked identical, then we wouldn’t be recognized as the unique, distinct individual that God made us. And, it occurred to me that this was God’s big design. That God put concerted about of effort into making each one of us different and unique. Rather than being a curse and going to a plastic surgeon so we can all have the same nose…that God really did this on purpose so we can be loved and unique.

Georgene: I think about the freedom about what you just described. I was once in Serbia on a short term missions trip. They took us to a resort, a bit rundown at the time we had gone. When we got there there were quite a few people who were overweight…and as they observed them, I realized that these people were not at all distracted by their appearance. I would have stayed home but they were perfectly comfortable and free…appearances can disrupt our relationships.

Margot: Yes, absolutely, it’s freeing to be around that person who isn’t stuck in that cycle of preoccupation but people of whatever size are free to be with others.

Georgene: You also write about “need meeting” you write about a day when you actually needed a milkshake. I like the idea of actually needing a milkshake and having permission to have one. Talk about meeting needs.

Margot: Yeah…I was on a hike with my family and as we’re on our way, I realized that I had not had anything to eat. We stopped for milkshake and said, “Get one for me”…so many of us are blessed that we don’t even know what food is for….We take our daily bread but so much more than we need. It was just a rare moment that I realized that food is for our bodies to help them work and to be with others.

Georgene: In the last part of the book, you write about the plan, in which we are urged to think about how we think about we live in these bodies that God has given us for a purpose. Let’s begin talking about “mission”, the look of unconditional love and acceptance.

Margot: When my husband and I were dating, we would look around a restaurant and we would notice that there was a couple that was really excited to be with each other….The way that our bodies and minds communicate with another person that they’re acceptable, whether we’re dissatisfied with someone, whether we’re scared of somebody, that our bodies communicate that, so our bodies show that…Jesus did that and that’s what we can do with our bodies as well.

Georgene: Is that possible for us if we are preoccupied with our own self-absorbance with our own appearance?

Margot: I just read a quote from C.S. Lewis and he is describing the humble person, and he said when you meet a humble person, they’re not going to go on about how low and meek they are, they’re not going to talk about that…when you meet a humble person probably all you’ll notice is that they seem very interested in what you had to say. I thought that was beautiful for someone who does not have that inward gaze so they can be present for somebody else.

Georgene: I love the idea that humility is a kin to the notion of unconditional love and acceptance of others. You don’t often think of those two things together but that essential to being able to be free enough to be able to accept others.

Margot: That is what I see in a person of Jesus, someone who is so confident in his belovedness, that’s what set him free to be present to others.

Georgene: You write on image bearing, talk about this and the implications of that.

Margot: I was adopted at birth and for a long time I didn’t see anyone who looked like me. When I met my birthparents, I realized that I am an image bearer of these people. Scripture says that each one of us bears the image of God. That is powerful and in the ancient world it was very powerful that we were created in God’s image.

Georgene: You write about justice, which may be a surprise for your readers.

Margot: Yes, I just marvel at how much effort I go to avoid over eating while there are so many people on this planet that go to bed hungry. It seems unfathomable…God loves to care for the poor with the excess of those that have enough.

Georgene: One of the things that I appreciate about your book is that you encourage your readers to think more broadly about the world we’re in and our responsibilities and the privilege we have to reflect the heart of Christ…to look outward to others. I wanted to give you a chance to comment on the epilogue, “Sermon on a 21st Mountain”.

Margot: I was just imagining, given a group, what Jesus might say to them, I imagine that Jesus would say, “You are blessed if you’re not the most attractive woman in the world”…It feels like Jesus turns the world values upside down again and again. I think we take hold of that deep reality and that’s when we’re set free.

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