The Unrighteousness of Fat

An infinite line with Sin above the left arrow and Righteousness above the right arrow.

I’m fat. Technically, more accurately, I’m morbidly obese. But people don’t usually like technical, so I’m fat.

Being fat is hard in our society. Being fat and Mormon is even harder. As Mormons, we depend on outward actions and appearances to determine all things important, including our righteousness.

Fat Mormon Woman = Unrighteous

Maybe that is hard to swallow if you haven’t really thought about it, but it is true. Don’t you remember all of those talks during Young Women’s Conference that told us our righteousness would make us more attractive? And what does righteous attractiveness bring? Righteous returned missionary husbands! I have experienced plenty a singles ward conversation where these righteous male returned missionaries would talk about concerns of their future wife becoming fat later on in their marriage. That would obviously be the WORST (insert eye-roll and sarcasm).

Being fat and Mormon leads to all sorts of assumptions about your morals and self-control, regardless of the actual reasons you are fat. In Mormonism, we believe our good works will manifest physically and temporally. If a woman is fat, especially pre-children, it is because she lacks discipline (you must not be able to fast on Fast Sunday), isn’t self-reliant (if you aren’t healthy, it will cost you and your family more when you are older), are disappointing Christ (your body is a temple and is the only one you will get), aren’t following the Word of Wisdom (It is also a diet plan), etc.

As with all good judgments and stereotypes, there is definitely a hierarchy of the understandability and reasons for fatness. As a married fat Mormon woman without children, I’m on the lower end of the understandably fat scale. Actually, it is not understandable. To many, I have no excuse for such carelessness.  Have you noticed that people are a little more understanding about a woman being fat when said fat is gained after the woman physically has children? People understand that it is harder to lose weight after you have children and are a bit more understanding about a woman gaining a few extra pounds. As far as righteousness goes, the righteousness points of having children counteract some loss of righteousness caused by becoming fat, but not all. Unfortunately, there is no such exchange when it comes to being fat without children.

When you do not have children and are fat, Mormons think that your perceived deficiencies are a result of your fatness and thus your fault. For example, I don’t have children, so there are plenty of helpful Mormons that will mention that being overweight increases fertility issues. If you are single, there are also many helpful Mormons that will let you know that finding a spouse would be easier if you were thin.

These sort of suggestions may seem rude but harmless on the surface, but really they get at a much deeper problem within Mormonism. Secular culture, the strict patriarchal structure within the Church, and sexism are more than enough to create a discriminatory atmosphere for fat women. When we add together the fact that many of these traits associated with fatness are traits that people associate with unrighteousness, the consequences of being fat are eternal. How does this really play out? If we are fat now, what implication does this have on the Resurrection? People have said that fat will be made thin, but isn’t it just aesthetics at that point? I’m not sure if I want to be made thin without any justification, especially not just because some people think that it looks better. What if my fat is not an imperfection at all?

People are quick to defend moms who put on a few extra pounds after children, but when our Mofem community rallied, along with others, against the #dadbod by using #mombod, why weren’t there Mormon feminist making room for #childlessbods? Why weren’t we as Mormon feminists inventing a hashtag–much better than the above–that recognized this large, mistreated, often invisible group?

As a community, we need to dispel the notion that fat indicates a certain lack of worthiness. Let’s eliminate the hierarchical acceptability of fat and embrace that fatness, no matter the reason, should be viewed no differently than thinness. Let’s stop looking at fatness as something that needs to be excused, explained, understood, or shamed. Righteousness should not be tied to BMI.

157 responses to “The Unrighteousness of Fat

  1. So glad to read your blog!! Check out the book: The FAT Jesus. Its quite an excellent and critical read on fat/fatness/religion and the issue of morality or lack thereof:) BIG HUGS! Jill

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said, sister – although I’m no mormon. Preach on!! #fatbod

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So happy to see someone righting about the word Fat and being truthful and honest. I’m obese male and totally understand your point of view.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this post. Overweight people are by far the most judged groups of people on the planet. I agree when you say the first thought is no self control. It affects me every day. Every day. Thank you Natasha

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Really good!
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    Liked by 1 person

  6. Totall agree with you. A lot of religions believe that worrying over weight is being ‘secular’, not ‘spiritual’. And I agree with this to an extent. So when weight is linked to righteousness, i can only hide my face in shame…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. anythingposhible

    Good one. Sometimes the double standards of the society that we are in is so overrated and i believe that labels do more harm than good

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Self-image and society’s image will bring negative energy.. Turning our eyes upon God surely helps. Great read.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. People should look at what’s on the inside

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Love this !

    I was raised Catholic, and the belief system is very similar. Imagine my experience of others’ disgust in dealing with the external results of my birth defects (so that I couldn’t ever be righteous enough, regardless of the topic mentioned).

    You keep telling your story. Fatness isn’t an illness nor a moral failing. It just is.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. This was a very interesting read, I thoroughly enjoyed it it really made me think, maybe you guys will check out my blog and hopefully enjoy it as much as I enjoyed this particular one 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I absolutely love this. It is so raw, vulnerable, and empowering… I would love to connect with my truths as fervently as you. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great post Natasha. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about your body image and the fat shaming culture we live in. I am an Accredited Practising Dietitian and I see people in your situation all the time. I have a strong interest in helping people getting in touch with the ‘how’ of nutrition, healthy relationships with our food and body. I’m sorry you feel this way. Society is well overdue for change and I believe we will get there slowly. We will get there faster if we as individuals stand up and focus on health not weight. You can still be healthy even though you don’t look like how people expect. We know diets don’t work so this is not the answer. There is lots of research out there now. Nutrition intuition is the answer. Hope your relationship with your food and body is positive. http://delectabledietetics.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This is really interesting. It is true that people whose appearance do not adhere to the norm are heavily criticised by society, but I did not know that it has implications within religious groups too.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Loved reading this😀

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  16. I love this and agree. As someone who has struggled with my weight for my entire life, I get so tired of being judged harshly for it. It doesn’t mean I love God any less.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. It’s nice to hear this voiced. Admittedly I am a fat after-children mom now I am in my 50’s, but have friends who are heavy without children. I have never heard them voice these thoughts, but thank you for opening my eyes and mind as I am sure it occurs. Great share!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Interesting and courageous post. Worth is not measured by the scale.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. atheism welcomes you as is.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I’m morbidly obese to or simply fat but I am a Christian labels should stop all together we are human tall,short,fat,thin,black,white we are all stuck in this terrible world trying to find our way home

    Liked by 2 people

  21. C.C. DeVille, from the band Poison, went into rehab for drugs and came out really overweight. I remember him saying that it’s more socially acceptable to be a heroin addict than to be fat. Sad but fairly accurate commentary of our times. Whatever happened to accepting people for who they are? Great post!

    -Claudia
    http://www.ourgussie.com
    Life lessons from my father

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Or, instead lose weight. But writing outrage posts on the internet to shame others into pitying you instead is much easier.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. as a thin person, I am judged everyday. I am a healthy 25 year old that weighs exactly what the average woman my age should weigh.. you would think that I would be left alone. The truth is, everybody is being judged for the way they look, the way they act, the way they think.
    The reason I am saying this is because I get a lot of comments on my social media posts (a LOT, as in hundreds) about how I look ugly because I don’t weigh enough, I look like I am starving, I should eat something.. My bones are sticking out. Some women have gone as far to say that I look 10 years older than I really am because I don’t eat enough. All very terrible and discriminating comments, which they think is okay because they are calling me thin. By the way- I am not struggling with any eating disorder, if you are starting to wonder.
    Most of these comments come from people that are struggling with their own weight. For some reason society and blogs have made it perfectly okay for people to skinny shame. I would never call someone fat, but I get called skinny all the time. I and every other ‘thin, starving and ugly’ girl out there want to be seen as women, just like you do. The Ariana Grande body shaming is a good example of this.
    As a society, we need to stop characterizing thin and fat and start to think of women as people. You as a thin person or you as a fat person would have the same self consciousness about the way you look.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Great post I really relate to it from the being fat part. Although my uncles church did frown upon people being fat as they called it damaging the temple! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Like

  25. Are you not being slightly bias due to saying “as mormans we…” you are taking a religion and generilising your morman society veiw instead of the widespread morman veiw.I am not a morman

    Like

  26. Pingback: The Unrighteousness of Fat | desirelovell not a blogger

  27. Brave post! I’m a mormon, too & this is one of many “exclusive” vs. inclusive issues in mormon culture. As Mormons, our vices are limited, but food we do well! Well shared.

    Like

  28. Pingback: The Posts You Like Most | femwoc

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