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Sermon illustrations

Self-Image

Disney Princesses & Body Image

A study led by Brigham Young University found that 96 percent of girls and 87 percent of boys had interacted with Disney princesses by age four. Girls who engaged the most with princess culture (via movies, shows, dolls, costumes, etc.) had the lowest body esteem. For boys, engagement with princesses actually enhanced their body image.

Lead researcher Sarah Coyne concludes, “Disney Princesses represent some of the first examples of exposure to the thin ideal. . . . As women, we get it our whole lives and it really does start at the Disney Princess level, at age three and four.”

Craig Detweiler, Selfies: Searching for the Image of God in a Digital Age, Baker Publishing Group, 2018, pp.31-32.

In God’s Image

Pop psychology is wrong when it tells you to look inside yourself and find your value. The magazines are wrong when they suggest you are only as good as you are thin, muscular, pimple-free, or perfumed. The movies mislead you when they imply that your value increases as your stamina, intelligence, or net worth grows. Religious leaders lie when they urge you to grade your significance according to your church attendance, self-discipline, or spirituality. According to the Bible you are good simply because God made you in his image. Period. He cherishes you because you bear a resemblance to him. And you will only be satisfied when you engage in your role as an image bearer of God….

Max Lucado, Unshakable Hope, Thomas Nelson.

Maria Goff and Insecurity

Insecurity is a funny thing. It makes us into someone we’re not as a way to cope with someone we used to be. For me, it started at home. Growing up, my dad had been critical of my mother’s weight, and he evidently didn’t want my sister and me to look like her. One day my dad called us into the bathroom.

He was standing by a scale he had placed on the floor with his arm extended, inviting us to step up. I can’t remember the number that appeared, but I remember being so humiliated. This was another moment for me. I began to believe the lie that the love and acceptance and approval I longed for was conditional and depended on my outer appearance. This happened in high school, but when I left for college this untruth found a corner of my suitcase to hide in. When I unpacked my clothes in my dorm room, I unpacked the lie too.

Taken from Maria Goff, Love Lives Here: Finding What You Need in a World Telling You What You Want. B&H Publishing Group.

Nothing to Hide

The relationship between wartime leaders Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt has been well chronicled by historians of the period. On one visit to the United States, Roosevelt wheeled himself right into the British Prime Minister’s bedroom, opened the door to find Churchill completely naked and yet unashamed. Churchill’s response was classic: “You see, Mr. President, we British have nothing to hide.”

Stuart Strachan Jr.

Our Moral Superiority

Researchers at the University of London concluded that “a substantial majority of individuals believe themselves to be morally superior to the average person” and that this illusion of ours is “uniquely strong and prevalent.” They write, “Most people strongly believe they are just, virtuous, and moral; yet regard the average person as distinctly less so.”

And among their study participants, “virtually all individuals irrationally inflated their moral qualities, and the absolute and relative magnitude of this irrationality was greater than that in the other domains of positive self-evaluation.”1 And we have a lot of self-delusions. Perhaps you’ve heard that 93 percent of us genuinely believe we’re above-average drivers.

Perhaps you’ve seen studies that show we also think we’re smarter than average. And we’re friendlier too. Plus we’re more ambitious than average. You might think with all of this awesomeness, we might have an ego problem, but good news: we also rate ourselves as more modest than others!

So, yes, we’re better at everything than everybody, but at least we’re humble about it. That’s not surprising because we’re us, and, you know, we’re cool like that. But what about people we assume simply must be less moral than us? Murderers, thieves, and the like—surely they’d have a more reasonable assessment, right?

Why, no, actually. The incarcerated population also thinks they’re more moral than everyone else. Prisoners find themselves to be kinder than the average person. And more generous. The professor who conducted the study of prisoners wrote, “The results showcase how potent the self-enhancement motive is. It is very important for people to consider themselves good, valued, and esteemed, no matter what objective circumstances might be.”

Brent Hansen, The Truth about Us: The Very Good News about How Very Bad We Are, Baker Publishing Group.

To Look White

Many minorities actually try to change their appearance to look more light-skinned or white. Eliza Noh, assistant professor of Asian American studies at California State University of Fullerton describes how her sister got plastic surgery to make her eyes and nose appear more European-looking because she thought her own appearance as a minority was “ugly.”

There is a boom for plastic surgery in China and Korea, where some clinics perform as many as one hundred procedures a day to reshape eyelids, noses, and faces. Dr. Kim Byung-Gun says, “They always tell me they don’t like their faces…the Chinese and Korean patients tell me that they want to have faces like Americans. The idea of beauty is more westernized recently. That means the Asian people want to have a little less Asian, more westernized appearance. They don’t like big cheekbones or small eyes. They want to have big, bright eyes with slender, nice facial bones.

Adrian Pei, The Minority Experience: Navigating Emotional and Organizational Realities, Intervarsity Press.

Two Sketches

In 2013, the soap company Dove released a series of short films featuring women who were the subjects of an FBI-trained forensic artist. Without actually seeing the women, the artist would draw each woman based on how she described herself. Later, the artist would draw the same woman based on how a stranger described her.

The reveal was shocking. The sketches drawn from the stranger’s description were always more beautiful than the ones in which the women described themselves. The point: many women don’t realize how beautiful they are. The ad was an attempt to help women accept themselves and find greater contentment in their intrinsic beauty.

Donald Miller, Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen.

Whose the Fairest of Them All?

In Disney’s Snow White, when the wicked witch stares in the mirror, she asks a basic question: “Who’s the fairest of them all?” It is a natural, human tendency to measure ourselves against others. But what if that mirror provides a cracked perspective? How do we resist the temptation to define ourselves externally, via comparison with others, and instead develop an integrated self, content within our own parameters? Are there feelings of frustration and inadequacy burrowed into our psyche that we may not even be aware of?

Craig Detweiler, Selfies: Searching for the Image of God in a Digital Age, Baker Publishing Group, 2018, p.129.

See also Illustrations on Appearances, Body-ImageIdentityInsecurity, Personality, Self-Awareness

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