How to battle negative body image as a missionary

Guys. We have to talk about something very important: Body image.

And before you start getting overly concerned about how I feel about my own body image, ask me what was the first thing I did after getting home from work.

I’ll tell you. I ate the biggest cookie in my house. My only regret, not enough chocolate. Or salt. Or chocolate.

With that being said, let’s chat.

Body image, positive or negative, is a real thing. And Satan will really try to get you distracted from the sacred work you have been called to in any way he can.

We will all learn one presumably painful way or another the simple truth that Satan doesn’t love us. And take it from me that he will use your self-esteem as a way to distract you from listening to the spirit.

I’ve always struggled with loving my body.

And just so you believe me, let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time today I woke up late, braided back my bangs, threw my day old hair into a pony tail and walked out the door without a stitch of makeup on my face, looking slightly reminiscent of a character from your nightmares you would call, “The Dragon Lady.”

I checked my Twitter feed while on the way to work and saw post after post debating whether or not fashionistas should wear white after Labor Day. Looking down at today’s selection of white denim I decided to skip this debate all together.

But it was leaving work that was the climax of my anti-covergirl day.

Let me first explain one universal truth. The overarching difference between print journalism and broadcast journalism is measured in the amount of makeup applied. #broadcastequalsbeauty

I waited for the elevator with probably five of the most beautiful women that work in the building, who were all somehow breathing advertisements for J. Crew and The Limited.  I stood in all my makeup-less, messy hair, white jean glory.

I couldn’t think of anything to say other than, “Oh, your cardigan matches the frosting on the cake I ate yesterday.”

Opting for silence, I rode five floors down trying to love myself.

But it didn’t work. I immediately had an attack of the “not enoughs.”

Not thin enough.

Not pretty enough.

Not fashionable enough.

Not rich enough.

Not good enough.

And it wasn’t until I started writing this post in my head that I realized the foolishness of those thoughts. Because guess what? Each and every one of them are lies. Written by the author and the finisher of our DOUBT.


He will trick you and fool you.

I’ve been there. I had moments of my mission that would have been better spent listening to the spirit. Instead it was spent listening to the lies that my body just wasn’t good enough. And I regret every second of it.

You will probably gain weight on your mission.

Some advice:

1. Stop stressing.

2. Keep loving yourself. Think about what you’re doing! You are bring salvation to your brothers and sisters! You should love yourself for eternity for that.

3. Eat smaller portions. I first lived by the principle that I would eat whatever someone gave me. That was pretty dumb. Eat smart, be kind, but don’t kill yourself.

4. Exercise. Really put your effort into that 30 minutes of exercise. For the most part, mine was pretty pathetic and consisted of girly push-ups and stretches with the lame band they give you at the MTC. The times I actually went running were when I felt the greatest, thank you, Sister Davidson.

5. Love yourself. I can’t emphasize this enough.

6. Push out the negative and focus on the positive. Maybe this sounds a little too hippie/new age for you. Get over it. It’s a real thing.

Common sense, right? Then do it.

Missionaries come in all shapes and sizes. Don’t let the outside distract you from what shines from within.

That is what God uses to touch the hearts of his children. Your body is the instrument for your spirit, your testimony, your soul. Love it. Treat it kindly. Respect it.

And remember. You are beautiful.

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Even if a lady cuts your bangs real bad and one side is an inch longer than the other.

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Or if you have to fight with a spear. Totem spirit fox.

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Even if you get a bug in your eye while tracting. #nature

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Or if you have to wear a shirt from 1973. Yes, those are camels and donkeys.

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Or hold a presumably very dirty chicken.

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Even if you’re not Wolverine. Or a pilot. And you have a mullet.

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And your best friend has  a mullet too.

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Even if the thug life accidentally chose you.

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Even if it’s 5 degrees in November.

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Or everyone had a mouth the size of Texas. Including baby angels.

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Well, okay. Maybe not this.

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Even if you have a mustache.

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Even if you didn’t know it wasn’t cool to wear huge ugly flowers on your head.

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Or every boy thought you were gross.

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Or you still didn’t get the memo about that flower.

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Even if your hair froze when you were tracting.

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Or a cat attacks you at a local thrift store.

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Or you spill all the soup.

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Even if you can’t pull the sword out of the stone.

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Or you get a concussion and forget who you are for a minute.

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Even if your best friend is an alpaca who also has a mullet.

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And even if your face tragically gets stuck like this.


Yes, Sister, even if you have to wear these shoes every day of eternity.


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Because you have been called of God.

Now go preach it, Sister.

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64 thoughts on “How to battle negative body image as a missionary

  1. Thank you Thank you Thank you! I would love to know where you served! I served in Salt lake city south 08-09 and I too gained in the jello capital of the world. didn’t even get that much jello either… sad.. you are such a talent!

    • I served in the Montana Billings Mission. Thanks so much for reading!! I have a special place in my heart for your mission. That’s the mission my parents were baptized. I was 5. Thanks for continuing the work in that special part of the kingdom!

      • ^.^ It was the toughest mission but the best experience I have ever had. And I hope those sisters who are putting in papers and those who are thinking about it, will read and be lifted up.

  2. I have come across your blog before. I skimmed and hurriedly dismissed it. Today, after prayer/study/questions/etc about my putting in papers (a forever ongoing long decision making process) finally came to the conclusions that a mission is exactly where my Heavenly Father wants me to be. Reading this now–today, is that tender mercy on top of it all. Another sweet confirmation on top of a dozen others that this is the right path to be on. Geez, you’d think I was Lemuel the way I keep receiving witnesses to it…

    Thank you,
    Another sister anxious in the work.

    • Holy cow, girl. Thanks for sharing. You will be an awesome Sister. We share a similar long journey of getting onto a mission. Being on the other side of it, I can tell you it was totally worth it. Keep on keeping on and don’t let anything get you down!

  3. Great advice! This subject has always plagued me. I have always tried to ignore popular beauty advice and try to never wear makeup, but even the strongest girl falters sometimes. This blog is a great reminder for all girls, lds or not. Also love your pictures, looks like you had an interesting mission.

      • Very well said…too many people think that the main tool of Satan is “Sin”, when it is much easier for him to use self-worth and depression…which starts the downward cycle…Congrats on the Mission and marriage…my youngest son served in Nevada Las Vegas…and was just married…What wonderful times ahead, and keep spreading the GREAT messages you inspire others with…Thinks for the “timely” thought.

  4. I accidentally got a mullet while serving my mission. It was entirely unintentional and made the pictures taken of me from there on out all the worse (add to that unfortunate style faux-pas the utter necessity of eating my weight in Hispanic food every dinner appointment, bad suits, and a constant sweaty sheen due to humidity). So your post is so very welcome! Our spirits shine through despite the hardships of serving the Lord, whether we are in the mission field or laboring in our day-to-day callings. Satan sure doesn’t love us, but we are daughters and sons of God, so who cares!

  5. Hallo ,
    Ich wurde durch Elders belehrt und zur Taufe geführt . Ich wollte wie die Elders such auf Mission gehen. Leider ging es nicht . Dafür habe ich viel mit den Missionaren gearbeitet (Joint teach ). Es war dabei egal wie die Sisters oder Elders aussahen. Wichtig war und ist was sie zu sagen haben . Die Sisters waren mal schlank oder mollig, oder hatten blondes oder Schwarzes Haar all dies ist für die Verbreitung des Evangelium unwichtig. Wichtig ist die innere Einstellung dazu .

  6. That’s a great one. I remember the days in the field and that is the best time one will have on earth’s life. When we still do those things we were taught in the mission field as returnados, then life will be more meaningful and Heavenly Father will be glorified because we are living.

  7. ser un buen mormon, es ser un mormon vegano (vegan) 😉 a ti te gusta el tocino, y ese animal antes de ser tu feca tiene deseos de vivir 😉

  8. The sisters on my mission were able to soften hearts and accomplish miracles that we elders simply could not. I have learned a truth: Every single daughter of God is born beautiful, in her own way, with precious and powerful talents. The tragedy of ugly, is a choice, or the sum of choices made.

  9. Oh my gosh! This is so ludacris!! I love it!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!! I am actually struggling with myself right now, and something like this came around! Thank you! I am definitely serving a mission. I’m 17 and just graduating, going to college and trying to get into BYU! I want to be able to do this for others! You are a wonderful sister! Thank you thank you thank you!!! 🙂

  10. I heard this and it fits right in here. When you call your self: ugly,disgusting, gross, not pretty enough stop and think is this how you would talk to The Lord because we are all made in his image and we are all beautiful. The Lord does not make garbage he makes one of a kind pieces of art. Hope everyone has a good day.

  11. I’m an adult convert (27 years this October), not a missionary (yet) and I’m not young (I’ve been blessed to see just over 5 decades on this earth), but your post spoke to me, and lifted my spirirt. I had body images issues back before it was called that. When I was young, I was “too skinny” and “too flat-chested” and, well, lets just say that I was fashion-challenged. Now that I’ve done with child-bearing (5 beloved children), I’m considered “too fat and flabby”. Thank you for reminding me that I, too, am a Daughter of God, and that I, too, am beautiful. (And I still hope to serve a mission when I’m old enough!)

  12. I love this! though I am not planning on serving a mission this was awesome! As a convert to the church, I admire and hold a special place in my heart for missionaries. Running IS awesome! And I thank you for your words. LOVE.

  13. You are really amazing! An inspired and hilarious (not a conflict) blog would *not* have resulted from an encounter with the divine manifestation of beauty in an elevator for me. No, I would have spent the rest of the day trying to be invisible. You are terrific, you are right, you are who I imagine myself to be when i am pretending to be a superhero #nocapes.

    • Marney, you are my favorite person in the world. I’m so glad you liked this post. You are seriously the coolest ever and when I grow up I want to be just like you! Love love love you.

  14. I have personally always wondered why so many females in our culture have such poor self-images–and it also rarely reflects any kind of reality. Just from my casual observations, it seems like some fairly arrogant ones have no reason to be that way, while some really sweet and cuddly ones act/talk as if they’re nothing at all. It’s amazing. And it seems to offer a lot of explanation as to why some gals hang around with guys who routinely stomp on them and put them down. This is sad, sad stuff . . . because the ramifications can continue throughout mortality, into subsequent generations, and can affect nearly every dimension of life. I’ve studied a lot of behavioral science and had a lot of life experience, and while I know there are reasons for this, there are no valid excuses for this phenomenon.

  15. If you haven’t read it already, you should read Daring Greatly by Brenè Brown. It talks about many of the themes that you talked about here, and it is beautifully written, as is your post. Thank you for your thoughts.

  16. Awesome i also go with out make up i
    Dont believe in self esteem i dont think we should teach children to be like every one else lets teach them to be theirselves .
    Thanks so much for writing this it made my day
    Enjoy life sisters
    As i say we dont need self esteem

    • What? You don’t need self-esteem? Depends on what you want to do with your life. If you don’t want to do anything, you’re right. People can be themselves (or “theirselves”) and still have self-esteem. Status and comparison aren’t the ideal goals, but achievement and strength are definitely related to happiness and peace of mind. SOMEONE has to make things happen.

  17. Whenever satan says that your not good enough, petty enough or skinny enough just whisper back, “at least I have a body.” Thanks for the awesome post!

  18. First of all: Great article. I especially love all the pictures at the end.
    Second: HOW DOES YOUR COMPANION LOOK EXACTLY LIKE ME? (the pic of the Elders being “repelled” by you. SHE EVEN STANDS THE SAME WAY!

    • First of all: Great article. I especially love all the pictures at the end.
      Second: HOW DOES YOUR COMPANION LOOK EXACTLY LIKE ME? (the pic of the Elders being “repelled” by you. SHE EVEN STANDS THE SAME WAY!

  19. HAUNTED. Many days of my mission. By my self image, and by how ugly I felt. You nailed it, Sister. It was a distraction. So many thoughts wasted on thoughts of self-disgust. I wish that all my dear “daughters” and sisters still out in the field would read this and not fall into the same ensnaring and destructive thoughts that consumed me. I’m grateful to be past that now. 🙂

  20. Big-time sad for any parent to hear that their son or daughter has any self-loathing going on. People need to take care of their health and appearance, but very few are actually that unattractive. Some apparently just need a little more self-realization and/or self motivation. Like any other aspect of life, it starts with dreams, then aspirations, then goals and standards, and finally actual plans. You can (and should) have goals and plans in EVERY facet of life, so don’t use ANY excuses for your lack of willingness to try to do your best. It’s true: If you fail to plan . . . you plan to fail. And don’t be like the gal who started this–a cute kid who somehow got the wrong perception of herself for some reason.

  21. hey sister, i love you to death, i really love your blog, this is what i really needed, I have some insecurities, which i hate feeling it. and sometimes I had my low self-esteem.., thank you! thank you! by the way, I already submitted my mission papers last Sept. 7, so I am patiently waiting for my mission call..let me ask a question, I’m 21 years old now, am i not too old to go on a mission,? just a thought.

  22. I must admit there’s one thing that everyone forgets is truly beautiful. Joy.

    Joy overrides any fashion trends, make up must haves and so on. It’s that beaming smile on your face that makes you beautiful. Inside and out.

    You’re clearly a person full of joy. Let it shine 🙂

  23. Part of the problem we have going on is that we are backsliding as a society with regard to social/interpersonal awareness and skills. People are spending their lives punching keys and focusing on screens instead of interacting with one another. And sometimes, it even impacts a thing called INTEGRITY. I can call many of the people in my neighborhood on the phone and be pretty much guaranteed that (a) they’re not going to pick up the phone, and (b) they’re not going to honor their message promise to call me back. So, how does this relate to self-esteem and happiness? Because we all rely somewhat on input and feedback from others, and if that feedback is arbitrary, capricious, flaky, fickle, and unreliable (or nonexistent) . . . then we start to wonder what’s really wrong with US. It’s the wrong conclusion, but it’s a common one. Let’s try to give people more actual, personal feedback and let them know that they’re special and valuable, and worth noting and noticing in this busy world of numbers and programs.

  24. I know this is an old post, but I needed to read this so badly! I just got called to serve in the Redlands, CA mission, Spanish speaking, and instead of being excited, all I keep thinking is, “I’m going to eat so much Mexican food and gain so much weight!” Thanks for the reminder that Satan is the one putting those thoughts in my head. Now I can push them out and focus on the joys of serving a mission!

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