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When I stumbled across a screen shot of Margot Starbuck's book "Unsqueezed: Springing Free From Skinny Jeans, Nose Jobs, Highlights and Stilettos," I knew I had to have a copy. So I did what any book-addicted sexual intimacy blogger would do. I contacted her and begged for a copy to review. (She obliged. After all, who really wants an annoying blogger begging for anything?)
My disclaimer right up here near the top is that Margot herself admittedly hates the words "body image." (Sorry Margot... I had to throw it in the headline so I could capture women's attention. Sounds kind of ironic put that way -- that I am trying to capture someone's attention with how something appears.)
Truth be told, many women confide in me that "body image" is what often sabotages sexual intimacy in their marriage. It is a big deal to a lot of wives, many of whom question their desirability in the eyes of their husbands. As a writer and speaker on sexual intimacy, I can't help but look closer at anything written on this topic.
Suffice to say, this book is irresistibly good. Margot peels back the layers of our fixation on our bodies -- and the toll such fixation takes (not just on us individually, but on a grander human scale as well). And just when I thought she had taken me as far as I really thought I could handle, she edges a bit further. Always a sign of a good writer.
Take a gander at these words of wisdom:
"I'm not even convinced that our beauty matters to God quite as much as we think it does. It seems like we're the ones who get all jazzed about the importance of our own appearances, whether outer or inner. Then most of us just end up stuck, jammed somewhere between the culture's unattainable standard of outer beauty -- which is so very easy to buy into -- and the pat assurance that God thinks we're knockouts on the inside -- which, if we're honest, is actually much harder to believe.
"I'm just afraid that when we put all our eggs in the beauty basket, even the spiritual eggs, we miss the big point of what God has in mind for these bodies. God just seems to be dealing in an entirely different currency than we've been working with, until now, when it comes to the value and purpose of bodies."
Exceptionally conversational in her writing style, Margot probably couldn't hide her realness if she tried. My ears and heart migrate toward this kind of authenticity faster than a 6-year-old can suck down a Slurpee. On the flip side, when I meet or read about people who try to convince me they "have it all together," I make mental notes to never have lunch with them. Or be in prison with them. I'm just saying -- I can relate to realness. I think you can too.
So kudos to Margot for keeping it real, not afraid to bare her own insecurities about her body and appearance. I was laughing out loud when she mused about the irony of obsessing over what she was going to wear to a particular speaking engagement -- where she would be encouraging women to not get hung up on how they look. Priceless humility and humor all wrapped into one delicious bite.
Margot compels you to look beyond your own circumstances and to entertain the idea that there are more significant matters at hand than society-defined hotness. Her heart for the marginalized in society -- locally and globally -- emerges throughout the book. She stirred dialogue in my head that I don't even think was on my radar.
"We realize liberation as we embrace, with our bodies, the thing for which they were made: relationship. Can you even imagine a world in which the importance given to our appearance fades beside the shiny real purpose of our bodies, which is being in relationship with God and others?"
That, my dear friends, is on page 18 of the 235-page book. Yeah, it's that good. In another instance, she points out how Jesus himself was not particularly concerned with his own appearance.
"Instead of attracting us with the good looks, there was something else about this guy that drew people to himself. There was something about the way he moved through the world. This is certainly true in my own encounter with Christ. His gaze and his ear were already tilted in my direction. I didn't have to tap him on the shoulder to get his attention, or get all dolled up, or make any embarrassing phone call I'd later regret. What attracted me to Jesus was finding out that, in his sacrificial love, he was already for me."
My only disappointment about this book is the title Unsqueezed. (I know. It's a very minor disappointment). The more I read the book, the more I hungered for a title that captured the tremendous depth lingering just behind the cover. (Sorry Margot. I'm not sure if you or a fancy marketing guru penned the term Unsqueezed).
Obviously, the title is not a deal breaker. My encouragement to all of you (whether you struggle with your appearance or not) is to snag a copy of Margot's book. And if you know of other women who are in the heat of this battle, will you buy them a copy? Maybe you and a bunch of your friends could read it together.
Check back here at my blog in a few days, okay?(I think you can do that RSS-thingy in the upper right side of this page, so you won't miss a thing). I begged Margot for a guest post, which will be coming up soon. (Yes, she obliged me on this too. See how annoying I can be?! You'll be glad I asked, cuz the post is really really good. Stay tuned.)