Fat and Faithful
Whether it is swimsuit season, the beginning of a New Year, or post-baby, our culture is constantly highlighting ways women can lose weight. From crash diets to online workouts, there is an eating plan and exercise regimen for every type of lifestyle. The goal for many is to become like the models on the runway or celebrities in the media. While the many models and celebrities are a size 0-2, according to Dr. Pamela Peeke of WebMD, “The average American woman is 5’4″, has a waist size of 34-35 inches and weighs between 140-150 lbs, with a dress size of 12-14. Fifty years ago, the average woman was 5’3-4″with a waist size of approximately 24-25″, she weighed about 120 lbs and wore a size 8.”While there is a great disparity between the ideal and the average, many women still struggle with body image and the pursuit of the ideal. One woman who knows that struggle is J. Nicole Morgan.
Morgan grew up fat and loving Jesus. But she was forever burdened by what she saw as her biggest spiritual flaw: her weight. In her book, Fat and Faithful, she shares her journey from body shame to fat acceptance and shows us how to care for the image of God found in every body–including our own. When the world tells us that our bodies are too much, Morgan reminds us that all people–no matter their size or ability–are beloved of God. Bodies of all sizes, shapes, colors, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and abilities are expressions of the body of Christ. When our first prayer isn’t about changing our bodies, we create space to care for our neighbors and to celebrate the unique ways we are equipped to serve our communities in the bodies we have. Fat and Faithful shows us that the world is wider than the size of our waistline.
Morgan shares in her book her view on being able to serve God regardless of body type.
“You are qualified to love and serve God, no matter your body.”
Morgan spent a few years as a High School English teacher and a few years living and working in a residential scholarship program for teenagers. After spending time in education and social work she saw many of the ways the systems failed the people they were trying to help. She wanted to focus on figuring out how to make better systems. While taking classes on Christian Social Ethics in seminary she fell in love with connecting the dots between church teachings, the influence of greater social contexts, and how those things impacted the actual lives of people. Now, she is satisfying that love of connecting the dots by delving deeper into research on the way the Christian Church in America has done a disservice, specifically to women, in the way we think about our bodies. Specifically, the size of our bodies.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;she can laugh at the days to come.She speaks with wisdom,and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:25-26
Create a healthy space. Whether you are a parent, small group leader, pastor or friend, it is important to create a place where people feel welcome regardless of shape, size, what they wear, or ability. It can be helpful to share that as a reminder every once in a while as you gather for group or when the topic comes up. If you have someone that has a testimony related to body image, body shaming, or eating disorders, ask them to share with the group. If they are open to answering questions, allow the group to ask the speaker questions. If you are a parent or friend, it can be good to share that we are all loved by God and that you love the person regardless of how they look or what they do.
Love and serve God. It is easy to get caught in the trap of living up to the expectations of others and not feeling qualified to do something. Often, the enemy can use these feelings and fears to sideline us from doing what God called us to do. Remember that God has called and equipped each of us to serve Him. Our qualification comes from the price paid by Christ on the cross, not the way we look, our abilities or how many degrees we have. Take time this week to pray and ask God to reveal any insecurities or fears you have. Ask Him to show you His truth. It can be helpful to find a verse that reminds us of that truth and post it somewhere you see daily, like a mirror, screen saver or journal. Ask a close friend or accountability partner to pray with you to live out that truth.
Encourage others. We live in a society that criticizes and puts down people for any and every reason. When you hear a co-worker, classmate, friend, or teammate putting someone down, instead of joining in, see if you can change the conversation by saying something positive you have seen that person do. Pray and ask God to show you someone in your life that could use some encouragement. Take time to write them a note or have coffee and share with them something that you have seen them do that stands out to you.
Win a copy of Fat and Faithful
We were given a copy of Fat and Faithful by Frontgate Media. All of our thoughts and opinions are our own.