Technically speaking, “fat phobia” can be described as a pathological fear of fatness that healthcare professionals treat using particular tools and treatments. However, in common usage, “fatphobia” doesn’t usually include a medically-defined condition. More commonly, the term means the fear of being fat oneself. It also can consist of a weight bias against others who have a large body size.
Fatphobia is becoming more common. Is this truly a surprise? With professional-model-mimicking photos slathered over the internet as the standard of required beauty, it is no wonder that the deathly fear of gaining a fatter body shape is increasing.
The Underlying Question
Although fatphobia is more common in young, educated females who are not overweight, people of all ages and both sexes feel the death grip of the culture’s requirement to achieve a leaner body. After all, if you aren’t picture perfect…what good are you?
What an absurd sentence that is. Look at it. Now, look at it again. I hope the more you read it, the more it pulls you out of the false narrative of our social-media-saturated minds. Now that you’ve escaped this lie, you are ready for these questions:
Why do you have to be thin? Why do you even have to lose weight?
While there are positive reasons to answer yes to the second question, am I pushing it to ask you to read the first question again? Ok, ok-you get the point. But let me just say one more thing…Why do we HAVE to be thin???
Challenging the Status Quo
Let’s be honest, it’s strange to hear someone ask that question. It seems almost obvious that we are all supposed to lose weight. No matter our current weight, life stage, or circumstances and situations, we are simply supposed to accept the culturally-implied predisposition that modern life requires a continual effort to lose weight. I mean, that’s the relentless message of the age.
This message has led to an increase in self-directed and others-directed fatphobia – or a higher valuing of the human lives embodied in leaner packages. This is sad for several reasons.
Fatphobia Leads to Ingratitude
Since I’m daring to say shocking things, why stop now? Ready?
Fat is not bad. Fat is not the enemy. Fat is a great and glorious creation of our God. It is utterly fascinating, in fact. Fat storage exists to give us the energy every part of our body needs when we don’t have access to sufficient food. Even during short periods of this, fat becomes our hero. And in long periods of food deprivation, fat keeps us alive.
As an enthralling and purposeful piece of creation from our gracious God, we really ought to be grateful for this good gift. Without stored fat, there could be real problems. And fat has other vital functions, but we won’t get into those here.
Fatphobia Leads to Discontent
On top of gratitude for a body that functions the way God designed, we can be particularly thankful for our personal, individual shapes and sizes. Diversity adds beauty to creation, and the differences between human bodies are clearly an intentional aspect of God’s design.
Therefore, it should be no surprise that as the world around us rejects more and more of God’s purposes in design, a substitute for body diversity and variability would become more fashionable.
God created about 73,000 species of trees. There are over 10,000 species of birds. Even ants come in over 12,000 varieties. And we can see that God created people with differences in mind (just consider that everyone has different DNA!). Look no further than God’s premier institution on earth, the church. Each member of the church brings his or her unique gifts to the other believers, supplying the needs of all (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-28). Such a fulfilling function requires diversity instead of carbon-copy beings.
Therefore, consider that not appreciating the differences God created in YOU can be interpreted as discontent. The root of discontent is not getting what we value or expect. When we focus on the Gospel, our eyes are on the prize that Christ already earned for us. However, when our eyes are on what others have or on what would give us an identity outside of Christ, it is essential to recognize the idols in our heart, AKA sins, and repent of our discontentment (compare this way of thinking to Romans 8:32).
Fatphobia Leads to Disordered Eating
When we have a great fear of fatness and therefore continually work to eradicate it in ourselves, an obsessive drive for this can take over, resulting in disordered eating. Disordered eating can take the shape of unnatural eating rules and restrictions, insufficient food intake, excessive exercise, extreme behaviors to purge calories of foods eaten, and other problematic behaviors.
And make no mistake, disordered eating turns the mind and soul of the sufferer into a scrambled mess. In other words, disordered eating not only damages the physical body but all aspects of one’s being are terribly affected.
If you have the disordered eating practices of binge eating or chronic overeating, get this great free resource, “Escape the Binge!” ebook HERE.
Fatphobia Can Lead to Prejudice
Fatphobia in our diet culture has the unfortunate result of potentially devaluing others who do not or cannot meet the unreasonable standard of thinness. This prejudice may not be overt nor widespread, but it is felt by many.
Do I need to say much about this? Of course not. We are Christians. No matter what the world values, we value all people because they are made in the Image of God. We love others. We sacrifice to bring others the message of salvation. We care for and serve others. Body size and shape do not affect their importance and value.
Are You Dealing with This Issue?
If you would like to work toward a healthier, more natural, and more grateful attitude toward the amazing creation of body fat and your own body, join me in developing a good relationship with food and your body from a biblical perspective. Just click the orange button below and schedule a 15-minute free consultation online!