Sunday, May 07, 2006

The fattest woman in the room

There is a line in the Weight Watchers TV advertisement that captures my attention everytime it's on: "There's more than one woman who thinks she's the fattest woman in the room." That is so true. And if you look around the room and don't think you're the fattest woman in the room, you are desperately looking around for who is, so that you can favorably compare yourself with her. It's pathetic, but it's reality.

I have been thinking deeply about body image lately. This is not a new topic for me, because I have been struggling with it my whole life, and am currently exercising eagerly in order to achieve a thinner, healthier shape. The exercise has been great--I have more energy and am more toned, but my scale mocks me consistently and tells me that I'll never get my weight down to a number that I would be willing to put on my driver's license with pride.

My husband is supportive of my efforts to become healthier and has always made me feel attractive. He even fell in love with me when I was quite heavy after a year of being on antidepressants which socked the pounds on my body. The antidepressants are a distant memory, but after three children my body weight is about the same it was back then. My youngest is a four year old, so it's not as if I just left the labor and delivery room, but my body has not yet bounced back--that is for sure.

All this to say, I must be the target audience for that Weight Watchers ad because it pulls my attention every time.

I am seeking to think about my body biblically, however, and that includes appreciating it, caring for it, feeding it and exercising it and using it to glorify God. Whether I am the fattest woman in the room or the least fat woman in the room (notice I can't quite bring myself to say thinnest?) this body is a gift from God to be used for His glory. My health is one of my most profound blessings, and I will seek to be a good steward of my health.

To neglect my body because it is not worthy of attention is to agree with Plato that my body is bad and not as valuable as my mind. To hate my body because it does not live up to an impossible cultural ideal is actually demeaning to true femininity and true Christianity.

Not caring for myself is a form of gnostic heresy, in fact. Gnosticism begins with devaluing the body and then, perversely, leads to hedonism because the fact that our bodies are evil, leads us to indulge them to an extreme degree. How can we help ourselves? It is our earthly bodies that drag us down into sensuality--it's not our fault.

Also, since our sexuality is so powerful we are taught to trade on it like commodity. And if our physicality does not match up to the unrealistic ideal, then we are less than ideal women. Even some feminists seem willing to use their sexuality as currency.

However, Jesus teaches us that this is backwards. The incarnation and resurrection of the Son of God crushes gnosticism. If bodies were evil, He would not have taken on human flesh. If bodies were not good, he would not have been resurrected nor would he promise us resurrection.

Our bodies are GOOD--God told us that back in Eden. My body is not perfect, but it is a good gift from the Father. While I await my resurrection body I am a steward of this gift. This body that dances, walks, lifts weights and plays with children, that embraces my husband, shakes hands with friends and makes dinner, that sleeps and stretches and carries me around--this body is mine and I am responsible for it. I must make friends with it, no matter what my weight.

Micah Girl


Blogger Songbird said...

Well, amen, sister. Amen.

10:13 PM  
Blogger see-through faith said...

you have to putyour weight on your drivers license? how ghastly. why not your bra size too? That info is "personal" and "privileged" - can you plead the 5th??? (grin)

12:50 AM  
Blogger Sally said...

echoing Songbird, well said, thanks

7:06 PM  
Blogger mibi52 said...

Yes, yes, yes. I find myself still thinking about liposuction, then saying "Boy, why would I ever do that?" I'm trying to reconcile a sense of my body as a comfortable easy chair, rather than a hard plastic stacking chair with no padding. Not sure I'm convinced yet, but it feels better than thinking there's something wrong with me because I'm no longer a size four. What our culture does to us (viz. the weight Watchers commercial, among others) is cruel. What we do to ourselves is sometimes worse.

Thanks for talking about this.

11:35 AM  
Blogger revabi said...

I would have to amen what your the other sisters have said. I am the fat women in the room. Good for you attempting to care for yourself, your body, your health, your gift from God.

5:06 PM  

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