I'm a Beautiful Daughter of God Who Thinks She's Fat

"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" (Matthew 6:21-23)
True life: I'm a beautiful daughter of God who thinks she's fat.

You may be able to relate. 

For years, I've heard that I'm a beautiful daughter of God. It was once novel for me to hear that. It is still a wondrous thing. 

And I know that God loves me no matter what. 

But I am human, and I am worldly. And I have a tendency to believe I'm fat. 

Perhaps it's not just a tendency. Perhaps it's my belief. I am one of five girls. If you have sisters, you'll understand; things get catty. Sisters don't throw punches, but insults. Punches probably hurt a lot less. For the last decade or so, I've heard it from my sisters: You're fat. Maybe I'm not fat by American standards, or I don't look it to the eye, but thoughts like that build up like plaque that can only be cleaned by the Divine Dentist.

I try to exercise at least five times a week. When I'm at home I frequently go hiking with my dad. I've always gravitated toward healthy foods like fruit, vegetables and meat, and as I got older, I made conscious decisions to choose to eat those foods in addition to drinking only water (except on special occasions). I lead a fairly healthy life. 

Our view from a hike this summer in the Appalachian Mountains

But it's hard for me to remember that when I find myself in front of the mirror once again. I've always been bigger than my sisters, from my wide shoulders down to my flat feet. And when I put on a bit of weight eighteen months ago, I thought my world was coming to an end. After my first semester away at college, panicked at my (slight) weight gain, I came home and began to severely restrict my calorie intake. I set a goal to lose five pounds over the month I spent at home; I lost it. I did. 

But it came at a high price. 

I was nearly starving my body, but worse, I was starving my soul. I felt as if all I had learned that semester, all the prayer and time I had put in to my relationship with God, was slowly coming undone. I had picked at a scab that had begun to heal when suddenly blood came gushing forth once more, and I felt powerless to stop it. I was underfed both physically and spiritually. During that time, I rarely went to daily Mass (which had become normal practice for me) and I ate little. My "daily bread" was gone, and I had forgotten to continue asking God for it. 

I forgot to ask God for anything, including help.

It's worth mentioning that, during that dark time, I would look back with envy on pictures of "skinny me" from high school. While doing so, I remembered those "skinny" times as the best times of my life. Now, I realize that's not the case. In fact, the times when I weighed the least and looked the best were often miserable. The last few skinny years of high school saw me through some questionable decisions that easily could have turned my life in another direction. However, thanks to the Eucharist and a nagging priest, I eventually made the decision to attend Franciscan University, a decision which changed my life. Around the time that I made that decision, I started slowly gaining weight. I continued to do so throughout my first semester at Franciscan. However, those "heavier" times were truly the most wonderful, fruitful periods of my life (excluding the following year). My spiritual life flourished, I persevered in prayer, and I began to set a beautiful foundation for a life in Christ.

If I could take that month back, I would. I hated it. I felt myself slipping away from God. But even after I returned to Franciscan, cleaned up my act, and began to regret my choices during that break, I could not keep away my thoughts. I would wake up in the morning and have to face Fat once again. I had no idea how to handle such a spiritual attack with God. All this time, He reached out to me to run to Him, but I was caught in a tornado of lies. Maybe I was eating well once more, but I was failing to feast at His table. The devil had a hold on me. 

In their book Captivating, John and Stasi Eldredge explain why the devil takes it upon himself to destroy God's beautiful children, especially through distorting beauty: 

Satan fell because of his beauty. Now his heart for revenge is to assault beauty… he hates Eve.Because she is captivating, uniquely glorious, and he cannot be.
The devil hates woman so much that he takes her beauty and distorts it. In some cases, the woman's body is an object of lust, a terrible distortion of love. In my case, I had a worldly image of beauty that caused me to equate happiness with slimness. 

For me, that assault on beauty meant that I would wake up every day thinking I'm fat. I would suffer silently with those thoughts as I dressed myself for the day, as I faced my reflection a hundred times each day, as I chose what to eat in the cafeteria, and as I shimmied into my pajamas for the night. A silent, suffocating torture paralyzed me. 

I haven't beaten this thing, whatever it is. I still have good days and bad; I alternate between hideous and beautiful. But now, I am aware of tiny thoughts sneaking into my head. I invoke Saint Michael the Archangel and Mary, both of whom cause the devil to flee in an instant. I am also making an effort to voice my struggle to others with honesty. I want to share this as a part of the month of profound humility, in an effort to be transparent with you. 

We are all body and spirit, so both must be nourished. 
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19) 
Mary defeating Satan.

Francesco Cosa, Saint Michael the Archangel Vanquishing the Devil. pinterest.com.

God bless. 

I'm about to read John Paul II's Theology of the Body from beginning to end, as a part of my continual quest to learn about the physical body in the context of the Catholic Church. I am so excited to begin this journey. (I've read bits and pieces before, but now I'm going straight to the source and reading everything in context.)


  1. McDonald's is the scourge of the Earth. Ronald McDonald should be smitten, the absolute madman!

  2. As always, beautifully and thoughtfully written. You are most certainly not alone in this struggle. What can we expect from the world which surrounds us? From birth, girls are told, explicitly or implicitly, that they must be pretty. Beautiful, in fact. And thin. Always thin. Aren't these two interchangeable? To be beautiful - you must be thin. And even if you aren't pretty, but have a good body, you're in. Besides, is anyone actually looking at anything other than your body? I have fought this battle for many years, and if you think it gets easier as one ages, well...in a way, it does. In others, not so much. I still think I'm fat. In fact, on my last birthday I turned 53. I jokingly told my girlfriends that I was also celebrating 40 years of being on a diet, since my grandmother informed me at 13 that I was fat, and told my mother to put me on a diet. She did. And she's been reminding me of it since then. Seriously. I'm 53. She's 81. She still tells me to watch my weight, and cuts out diet and exercise tips from every newspaper and magazine. She's thoughtful like that.
    So I admire your candor in addressing this issue, because I never talked about it then. I just accepted that the adults in my life knew better and that yes, I was fat. Maybe if my peers had been more open about it, I could have discussed it with someone and come to a realization earlier in life. The realization that, fat or thin, God will love me no matter the size. The realization that my worth is not something that can be measured on a human scale, but a divine one. And He thinks I'm beautiful when I try to be a good person, when I try to help others, when I care for my children, both my real ones and my school kids, and even when I fail to do these, He's still there.

    You're a great writer, Rebecca. Keep reaching out. We're listening.

    1. Thank you for your honesty, Mrs. Wild! Seriously, I am shocked that you would think that about yourself, as I always admired your physical beauty (and your put-together outfits). It's funny how our perceptions of ourselves can be so twisted, and even the people we view as beautiful or perfect are, in fact, dealing with the same struggles as we are. And thank you for letting me know that you are listening. God bless.

  3. Rebecca, thank you for your epic, raw, beautiful reflection!!!! You are awesome. One of the things that makes me crazy about our current culture is the focus on weight and physical appearance...I've gone on many rants about this in classes and whatnot, so I'll spare you here :) But seriously, if you read enough historical stuff, you see that back in the day, having some chub or flub was seen as admirable (I'm presuming because it showed that you could afford food and eat)! That's something that I've tried to keep in mind, because even though I haven't struggled with negativity towards body image that much, from time to time, there are still moments where I've slipped into that. On a final note, you're going to read TOB!?!?!?!?!?! DAY MADE. I took that class while at Franciscan, and I love TOB and how it's so much more than just "treat each other like ladies and gentlemen." It's so, so, good, and we must freak out about it together sometime :)

    1. Thanks, AnneMarie, for your feedback and for the fun historical tidbit :). And YES, please freak out about TOB with me! I am SO excited to be reading it (finally).

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  5. Pray the Rosary! Need Powerful Prayers? Over 8000 people will pray for your intentions Everyday! Join the 3D’s! http://www.thepoweroftherosary.com/3ds.html

    With the Rosary all these things will be swept away like straw, then do a 33Days to Morning Glory Consecration. God Bless you!


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