Food, Body & Bible
It’s my senior year of college and I’m looking at these two incredible friends of mine. They are funny, adventuresome, faith-filled people who have deeply impacted my life. As I look at them laughing, I am suddenly struck by their beauty. They are full of love for others and quick to serve and help everyone. My heart warms to them. But, then I feel grieved as I think about how often they’ve told me they wish their bodies look different. These girls aren’t skinny. They aren’t obese either. In fact, they are active, strong and energetic. But, since they are “overweight” (according to American society) they wish to look different. And, honestly, I am a little prideful about being thinner than them, although I’m far from feeling satisfied with my own body.
But, at that pure moment, I realize they are much more beautiful than many of the thin women I know. Even more beautiful than the women in magazines who they aspire to look like (as do I). But, my friends wouldn’t agree with me. They would say they should diet, exercise and could not be entirely happy until they have dropped 15 pounds (or more). And, of course, I feel the same about myself. And, in my less pure moments, wonder if they too wouldn’t be a bit happier if they were thinner.
This experience, coupled with my own struggles with body image, inspired me to write my Master’s thesis on body image. I wanted to know what God said about our bodies, about food, about exercise? I took on this exhilarating challenge of a thesis: “God’s Answer to Body Obsession in Christian Women”. Hilariously, I got pregnant while writing about body image. I had never been so big and uncomfortable in my body! And here I was, writing about being satisfied with ourselves and finding our beauty in God not in culture.
I found the study very intriguing and got to speak at a few women’s events on the subject. But, then, I couldn’t take off my baby weight gain. And, suddenly, all the spiritual thoughts I had about our weight not mattering, seemed silly. I was uncomfortable, chubby and felt ugly. I stopped believing what God says about my body and food. So began a 16 year diversion from living out the insights I had gained from my thesis study.
I became very extreme (not uncommon for me). It started with trying veganism, which led to raw veganism, which lead to low-fat, high-carb veganism. Then, I was so frustrated with that not “working” (although it DID keep me thin) that I tried high fat, low carb. And, just about everything else. My poor body.
Why did I think that being thin, toned, bikini-ready (I live at the beach) would make me happy? I would deceive myself into thinking I was doing it only for health reasons. Supposedly I mainly wanted energy, reduced joint pain, better sleep. And, I did (and do) want those things, but the REAL reason was to be thin. Thin and strong. And sexy. And admired. And looked-at. And accepted. Ugh. THAT AGAIN?!
As I was recently talking with a friend, who works at a weight loss call center, I got inspired to pull out my old thesis and re-write it. Scary. Will I still agree with it? Do I want to? How convicted am I going to be? I’m not sure, but I’m excited to explore this all-important topic again.
A lot of my upcoming posts will be my journey through that. I hope you enjoy and we can learn together.