Fat Phobia

You’ve heard it, maybe said it: “I need to lose weight before summer, so I can look good in a swimsuit.” Or “I need to lose ten pounds before my son’s wedding” or “before the Christmas party” or “before the class reunion.”

Why do we Americans attempt to lose weight? Appearance. Why do we get tummy tucks and face lifts? Appearance. Why do we subject ourselves to hair implants and nose jobs? Appearance.

Before you think I’m immune to vanity, I confess that I wear makeup, brush my hair, clean my fingernails and periodically check my reflection in a mirror. In addition to the shock of seeing my deceased mother stare back at me, I’m alarmed by acne that apparently morphed into age spots, frustrated by once-firm muscles that melted into flab and falling body parts, mystified by moles that multiply exponentially and wrinkles that wage war against my youth—and win. We won’t even talk about those wiry, white hairs that erupt unasked in random and weird—but always visible—locations.

So, what about fat phobia (or age-spot phobia or…) and our eternal yearning for a makeover? Like individuals who join churches and synagogues to look good in their communities but don’t allow God to make them spiritually healthy on the inside, we sometimes expect to be beautiful or handsome on the outside when our insides are full of garbage.

Years ago, in a letter to the editor of a denominational magazine, a mom offered this tip to readers: Frustrated Sunday after Sunday by her young boys, who neglected to keep their shirts tucked in at church, she sewed ruffles to the bottoms of those shirts and “cured” the problem. I think this was an “inside” problem for a mom who was more concerned about her sons’ appearances than their emotional well-being and more about what others thought of her mothering skills than her own spiritual well-being.

Most churchgoers like the fun of fellowship but some balk at the discipline of bending heads in Bible study, hearts in submission to our Creator and knees in prayer. We perm, manicure and dress to impress but dread the discipline of controlling what we eat, drink, smoke and inject into our bodies. As the old adage goes, we are what we eat. And as Michael Pollan, Center for Ecoliteracy writes (http://www.ecoliteracy.org/essays/we-are-what-we-eat):

“If you are what you eat, and especially if you eat industrial food, as 99 percent of Americans do, what you are is ‘corn.’

“…Take a typical fast food meal. Corn is the sweetener in the soda. It’s in the corn-fed beef Big Mac patty, and in the high-fructose syrup in the bun, and in the secret sauce. Slim Jims are full of corn syrup, dextrose, cornstarch, and a great many additives. The “four different fuels” in a Lunchables meal, are all essentially corn-based. The chicken nugget—including feed for the chicken, fillers, binders, coating, and dipping sauce—is all corn. The french fries are made from potatoes, but odds are they’re fried in corn oil, the source of 50 percent of their calories. Even the salads at McDonald’s are full of high-fructose corn syrup and thickeners made from corn.”

This is long, but I hope you see the value of not only checking the mirror but monitoring what goes into your body, soul and mind. You will be rewarded with true beauty, health and vitality. May your corn consumption be limited to the fresh corn on the cob available right now at a fruit & vegetable stand near you! Becky

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