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All Bodies Are Sacred — Yes, Even Fat Ones

July 24, 2012

As a Pagan, I believe that our bodies are part of the divine — a physical manifestation of the Soul, of the Universe in a way. As a lover of science, I know that my body is made of the same stuff as the stars and the earth itself. It’s sacred, and only good can come from self-love and acceptance. This approach informs a lot of my Fat Acceptance writing and embracing of the Health at Every Size® mindset.With that in mind, onward into the fray!

Last week, there was a bit of a fatstorm in the Pagan blogging community following the death of a well-known Pagan podcaster. I was horrified, then PISSED, that this convo about “what to do” about fat Pagan bodies was happening. I wrote about it, calling out the concern-trolling of one blogger, and the healthism and conflating of fat with health by another. The concern troll took the time out of his busy day to comment on my blog, expressing regret for saying anything to us non-professionals (like bias doesn’t exist in the medical community! LOL). The other has clarified her post since, wanting to steer clear of shaming any bodies and focusing instead on an honest conversation about health, not weight. Fair enough.

A statue of a fat buddha praying

On Sunday, the WildHunt had a link roundup with more posts and perspectives on the issue from other Pagans — some fat, some not — and it was heartening to see so many voices speaking up for the sacredness of ALL bodies. Unlike Peter, the gent who’s post started this whole mess, they truly believe that all bodies are sacred and, equally important, none of anyone else’s business. I had the pleasure of ‘meeting’ Kitsune Yokai at the Fat Pagan blog and reading Star Foster‘s sassy response to the entire thing, plus a few others. I had been hoping the Pagan community would be the one place where fat shaming and hang-wringing wouldn’t happen, but I’m glad that when it DID there were many who spoke up and spoke out against it.

A side-view of a statue of a fat woman/goddess who is kneeling

Part of me wonders how this conversation plays out in other faith-groups: how are fat people treated in churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and shrines? If we’re all supposedly created in G/god’s image, then doesn’t that mean we’re all just the way we’re supposed to be? Is fat shaming and eliminationist rhetoric a problem in other faiths? I just don’t know, but I’m looking forward to hearing about it in the comments!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    July 24, 2012 11:26 am

    I don’t do organized religion anymore, haven’t ever since I had my PE teacher for my Sunday School teacher back when I was in junior high school. I was rather disillusioned with organized religion from about 6th grade catechism classes on – our preacher taught the classes, and according to him, the Lutheran religion was the only one with the right answers. Now, I read a lot of science fiction back then, and I told him he was rather conceited, that there were too many planets in too many solar systems out there (it’s infinite, right?), so there had to be life on other planets somewhere and maybe they were the ones with the right answer and we were barking up the wrong tree. I also said that with all the religions there were right here on this planet, maybe one of them had the right answers, or maybe all of them just had pieces of the answer. I told him to go ahead and believe whatever he wanted, but I was keeping an open mind.
    All of this is to explain that I’ve checked out various Christian churches, but I’ve never stuck around long enough to see if there was any body-shaming going on. Most of what I’ve seen is of the “you don’t dress like we do/think like we do/live where we do/have our socio-economic status so you don’t fit in” bullshit. With all of that, they don’t need to say anything about my fatness, that’s just the icing on the cake, so to speak, of unacceptability in their circle.
    I have seen articles online about faith-based diets, “losing weight for the Lord”, and things like that, however. Those would be body shaming enough to keep me out of whatever church/religion advocated them.

  2. Fab@54 permalink
    July 24, 2012 11:45 am

    Just recently went through a very disheartening ‘discussion’ regarding weight loss on a Buddhist forum. (Shannon got involved as well, thankfully).
    I’m a former long time Pagan, on the Buddhist path for a while now. Believe me, fat-shaming (both consciously and unconsciously), concern trolling, and character critiquing on fat people is everywhere. Even to some extent in the Buddhist community. It has indeed become a cultural meme; deeply engrained into every aspect of our society.

    I used to wonder myself – years ago – why there SEEMED to be an awful lot of fat pagans at festivals and gatherings. Eventually, I just chalked it up to the fact that Pagans generally are *perceived to be* more accepting of others who, for any number of reasons, are on the ‘fringes’ of society’s “normal” range. So, in turn fat people/pagans feel freer to participate and show up at these parties, gatherings and festivals. They join right in with others doing the skinny dipping, dancing around the bonfire, drum circles, ETC. They have the impression they are not being judged. I know I certainly did…

    But the key phrases being “perceived to be” and “they have the impression” … because unfortunately the reality is… there are nearly as many fat-bashing, concern trolling, shallow-minded a-holes in the Pagan community as there are in probably any other community.

    Conclusion? There is a long, long difficult road ahead of us to tamp this… this evil…. down.

  3. July 24, 2012 5:49 pm

    I read a rather lovely book by a Pagan author on the sacredness of bodies – “The Body Sacred” by Dianne Sylvan.
    I’m not a Pagan (though I briefly described myself as such) but a Christian. I have to say I have never experienced body shaming in a Christian church – but I have only been a regular member of two. I have, however, heard of weight-loss books and courses written for Christian (women), I know one course was called “Slim for Him”. I believe these are American, although I have seen a weight-loss book advertised in Christian webstores in the UK too.
    I suppose there is a possible link one might make in that one of the traditional deadly sins is gluttony, so if you accept the premise that fat people are gluttonous…that said the Bible, particularly the OT, describes fatness in a mixture of terms – people are described as “fat and sleek” and forgetful of God, other times it is said that they will grow fat because of God’s favour.

  4. July 30, 2012 12:06 pm

    I wish I had time to dissect your call for answers, but much has been written about the connection between Puritanism and the sins of gluttony and sloth. In Christian traditions, being fat was a sign that you were a gluttonous sloth, but as Emma says, fat is also a sign of being blessed by God. So, the attitudes of Christianity toward fat has shifted with the cultural context in which it’s commented on. But bear in mind that one of the greatest Christian minds, Thomas Aquinas, was not called the dumb ox for nothing.


  5. July 30, 2012 7:48 pm

    I no longer go to temple most of the time for many reasons, but fat-shaming actually was never one of them. Come on, we’re Jews. A religion which involves kugel, kreplach and matzoh ball soup can’t exactly turn around and tell you to starve yourself. 🙂

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