Part of my research for my master’s thesis on embodiment theology and diet devotionals involved reading a lot of diet devotionals. One that I picked up at a thrift store is Gwen Shamblin’s Rise Above, the follow-up to her best-selling Weigh Down Diet.
I consider Rise Above spiritually abusive. It was emotionally draining to read. So, in the midst of spending much time thinking about and reading her words, I decided to redeem it a little bit. I opened to a random page, made sure I had any notes I needed from it for my paper, and then got to work trying to use her own words to offer an opposite message. A message that critiques the fat-shaming that is found all throughout the book and celebrates the way that God made us diverse bodies. Part of the beauty of the way our bodies work is that multiple times a day, if we are so blessed, we get to eat, and we get to do it with friends and family. Throwing on shame and judgment about food and weight ruins that chance we have to experience communion with the incarnated triune God through this daily practice.
The final art project isn’t perfect, but as I flipped through the book over the next few weeks as I finished up the paper, it was a nice reminder of what God really thinks about my body.