I’m wrapping up my summary of Conversation A from my post a couple days ago. Today, I’m revisiting the “fat people” comment.
This is in response to a specific discussion on, of all places, Facebook. The original comment was to a young woman expressing frustration and normal teenage angst. The person listed “tolerance of obesity” among the signs that we are in serious moral trouble.
That makes no sense to me. Now, I don’t deny that obesity is a problem in the sense that there are clear health risks. And I am absolutely in favor of taking care of the bodies we are given. No argument there. But is obesity really a sign of impending Apocalypse? It seems like such a foolish thing to obsess over, given the wide range of really horrifying things we could list.
I suppose I may be taking this somewhat personally. No, I’m not obese. However, my mother was. When I see comments like that, I recall being a child and having classmates mock me because my mother was fat. Even thought I was not a fat child, my classmates knew about my mother and knew that was the way to get to me, to hurt me. Yet everyone who really knew my mother loved her. She was kind, compassionate, and giving. Mom loved giving to others–her money, her time, and her skills. She volunteered with my girl scout troop, tirelessly hosting and providing snacks, teaching us how to sew, and listening to us. She spent 8 years volunteering at an inner city school, playing games, reading, and sharing lunch with children who desperately needed someone to love them. She took care of a neighbor when her family was in crisis. Even after her obesity had destroyed her physical body, rendering her wheelchair-bound, she found ways to care for her neighbors in her apartment building. Recently, a friend asked me for one of her recipes. We had been out of touch for awhile, so she didn’t know of mom’s death. When I told her, she expressed sympathy and said that my mom had been a good woman. I find it very hard to believe that my mother’s weight problems were bigger than her loving heart.
It’s not all roses, however. My mother did not die directly of problems caused by her weight. She actually died of cancer, which had gone undiagnosed, for probably 10 years (very slow-growing type). Why didn’t she seek treatment? Because of the stigma of her weight. She was embarrassed, particularly by the fact that the type of exam needed to diagnose the problem was physically uncomfortable for her because of her weight. And not everyone she knew was particularly sympathetic. Some people had (and still have) attitudes much like the person I mentioned above, believing thinness is equivalent to godliness.
Before anyone starts thinking this jerk is alone in his beliefs, let me put that to rest. Another “friend” posted on her blog that she thought there was something “wrong” with Christians being overweight. Not even obese, simply “overweight.” And how many Christians do I know who obsess over their weight, trying one new diet after another? Somehow, this idea has permeated our faith. Where does it end?
As for me, I refuse to discuss dieting or weight in conjunction with my faith. Jesus didn’t say they’d know us by our thinness, he said they’d know us by our love. So where is the love?