Can “Fat Shaming” Be Conviction Instead?

Can “Fat Shaming” Be Conviction Instead?

“Liz was 62 years old and had homeschooled her two daughters, who were now in their 20s, unmarried, and living at home. Liz and her husband adopted their three-year-old foster son and were raising him. Then, she suddenly died of a heart attack. She was dearly loved but greatly overweight. Liz exchanged the years of continuing to be a loving mom for the pleasure of a high-food-consumption life. This isn’t judging her. We mourn with her family, but each of us needs to own the future impact of our daily decisions. Sometimes we love others by making hard choices for ourselves like eating in a manner to keep our bodies healthy and at a good weight.” This is a quote from Teri Maxwell’s great book “My Delight: Loving My Husband.” Many would call this “fat-shaming.”

Jillian Michaels was accused of this recently. “When the topic of Lizzo’s messages about self-acceptance and body positivity came up, Michaels asked: ‘Why are we celebrating her body? Why does it matter? That’s what I’m saying. Like why aren’t we celebrating her music? ‘Cause it isn’t gonna be awesome if she gets diabetes,’ she continued. ‘I’m just being honest. I love her music, my kid loves her music, but there’s never a moment when I’m like, ‘I’m so glad she’s overweight.'”

God said this about a man: “And he brought the present unto Eglon king of Moab: and Eglon was a very fat man” (Judges 3:17).

Did Teri Maxwell shame the greatly overweight mother who died? Did Jillian shame the obese singer? Did God shame Eglon? Are they all guilty as charged?

The word “shaming” is a common word being used these day. Mommy shaming. Fat shaming. How can women feel shame if there’s no reason to feel shame? Can shame be another word for conviction? Are women who are feeling “fat shamed” being convicted about being overweight and don’t want to admit it so they use the word “shame” instead of “convict” because they don’t want to be convicted of their sin?

“Let your moderation be known unto all men” (Philippians 4:5). We are commanded to be moderate. A fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Eating too much makes us feel badly and affects our health. A lot of problems people are suffering from are due to their own negligence concerning their health and care of their bodies. There’s a good reason God warns us to be temperate and have self-control. There’s a good reason that He tells us that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we are to glorify Him with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).

“When I step on a nail I feel pain. That pain is my body saying, ‘Stop that.’ When I sin I feel shame. That shame is my conscience saying, ‘Stop that.’ Shame, like pain, is an uncomfortable but necessary teacher. It exhorts us to turn from doing something destructive” (Michael Foster). “I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” (1 Corinthians 6:5)

If you aren’t considered “thin” but you are doing all you can to be healthy by not overeating, exercising, and eating healthy, then you should feel no shame. There’s no perfect weight. Most of us all will fluctuate at times, but we should always be striving to “keep our body under and bring it into subjection” (1 Corinthians 9:27). We need to be able to say “no” to our fleshly desires and appetites and “yes” to righteousness, temperance, and self-control because His Spirit works mightily within us (Colossians 1:29). We also know that we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
1 Corinthians 9:27

56 thoughts on “Can “Fat Shaming” Be Conviction Instead?

  1. If we see a fellow brother or sister in Christ living in sin we have the duty to call them out in love. Why not help them? Positive criticism is good!

  2. Lori,
    Very true. We just lost a 59 year old woman in our fellowship. She was very overweight and died of a heart attack. She was engaged to be married. A shame.

  3. I am all for helpful critism. But I think before giving that, we should ask if we are the proper one to do so. Weight can be a very private matter. I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which is basically a hormonal imbalance. One of the side effects to it is that it can cause weight problems. I am not obese, but I am considered “overweight.” I eat like a diabetic (because PCOS has to do with insulin resistence), and work out. While I don’t feel shame or conviction from my weight, there have been a very few people that have decided to “call me out” on my weight. I do believe that is unnecessary and hurtful, espeically when people say lies. I don’t think there is anything wrong with medical professionals or loved ones (real loved ones, not your third cousin once removed), saying something when your weight is very unhealthy, but I don’t think just anybody should walk up to me and tell me to lose ten pounds. Especially not a christian. I think we should use discernment, and know when it is our place to say something. So I would just give a word of caution before someone acts in zeal, and ends up making themself look ignorant because they decided to tell someone to lose weight without having proper medical training or coming from a place of genuine love.

    1. Hi StillLearning,

      We can’t control other people’s behavior. All we can control is ours and how we respond to others. Will we let their comments to us about sin they may see in our life steal our joy, convict us of the sin, or become angry over it?

      People try to shame me every single day. I am called all types of horrible things but none of it’s true so I ignore it. If a loving Christian tells me some critical things, I ponder them to see if they have a point.

      Being a bit overweight and obese are two different things. I have a hormone problem as well that can cause me to gain weight. My thyroid is basically non-functioning so I must take thyroid medicine and hydrocortisone daily which both can cause weight gain. I have learned that I must eat less and exercise. I have learned to control my weight with my health problems.

      Obesity is from overeating. No one can become obese without eating a lot of food. No drugs or health condition can make a person truly obese. Only an abundance of food can do this and our nation is growing more obese by the year. People need to stop with their excuses and begin to work on eating less and eating healthy. It’s becoming a national health care crisis due to obesity even among children!

      1. I totally agree needing to lose ten pounds and being morbidly obese are two different things. There are a lot of women and men who want to take pride in their sin (like the homosexuals), and wanting to take pride in over eating is no different.

        I agree that we are responsible for our emotions, but as Christians we shouldn’t go in to criticise someone without conscious because the other person is responsible for how they react. I always have responded kindly when someone would make a comment about my weight, though like I said, it isn’t a lot. It is usually done by an unmarried woman inside a church that has too much time on her hands for good.

        I am happy you have been able to slim down despite your health problem. That is truly a blessing. My husband helps me with eating due to an eating disorder as a teenager. He insures that while I eat healthy, I do not restrict like I have done in the past.

  4. Most of the fattest and most unhealthy people I’ve known call themselves Christians. It’s pathetic and shameful.

    Christians should be at the top of the heap of those who take great care of the one body that God gave us. Instead, they run those bodies into the ground.

    And what do most Churches do?
    Serve donuts. Every Sunday.

    1. This is so true, Joe! I think Christians often proudly avoid “obvious” sins of over using alcohol and avoiding drugs but never realize they are using the church pot luck as their own drug of choice! Obese pastors preaching against carnal sins really don’t see the irony of their own sin, which is pretty obvious.

      My pastor husband and I have always felt staying trim was not only obedience to God but a good testimony to others. And the donut table after church drives us crazy! We did get them to add fruit, but guess what goes first? Not the fruit.

  5. As a fat woman, I’ll speak out. My fat is my very visible sin of lack of self control. It’s a fight I struggle with every single day. I’ve never been a skinny, but I always on the larger size of normal. And I was always the girl who consumed the very least while my skinny friends gorged and never gained an ounce. Might I just add some brevity and say THAT IS SO RUDE lol!! I kept a close handle on it until I married. No, I’m not blaming my husband, but he’s one of those people that has a hollow leg and can eat anything and everything. Our very first day going back to work after our honeymoon, I made our lunches. I was excited as a new wife. A piece of lasagna & an apple, as was my typical single lunch of a Lean Cuisine/apple. He came home that first night and announced that he would be making the lunches from then on. I was crushed. The next day, my lunch consisted of enough food to feed an army. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I ate as much as I could and gave the rest away. A month later, my clothes were tight. I NEVER ate fast food. He’d pick it up on the way home on Friday, as he was used to having it as a single man of 34. Two months later, I had to buy a larger size. You get the picture. He never said a word about my weight and just continued on. Now, it’s clearly out of control and he has apologized profusely for his role in it. No, he didn’t force me, but being a newlywed is such a thing that you want to handle gently. And now we’re here and I just don’t see myself winning this battle unless I’m locked in a cave somewhere. I’m like a raging alcoholic living in a bar.

    That said, I would hate to see fat become the new cause for *justice*. While I don’t believe in name-calling or even calling people out on it (unless you’re close to this person), celebrating it is so wrong. Fat people know they’re fat. They’re reminded EVERYWHERE. I had no idea how awful they were treated until I saw it from this side of my double chin. People can be cruel.
    And just the size thing is tough because many chairs are narrow. Flying is out of the question.

    Sorry to be so long.

    1. I’m sorry, Debby. We all have our struggles with sin in one way or another. I just suggested on my Facebook page that the best way to deal with any and all sin is to confess it to others and pray so what we can be healed (James 5:16). Therefore, I believe the key to overcoming sin, if one can’t do it ourselves, is accountability and prayer. This is why Weight Watchers has worked for so many. My good friend struggled with her weight for most of her life until she regularly attended WW and now, due to the great accountability and teachings of WW, she’s been her desired weight for over ten years! With God ALL things are possible.

    2. I also gained weight when I got married. I sacrificed exercise to spend time with my husband who had an active job at the time and didn’t work out. We also went out on frequent dates and got appetizers which I very rarely ordered before. My dinner plate always looked so empty beside his and I started to believe I deprived!! (Insert eye roll here). He would eat all the sweets in the house Before I could even try them so I started to hide them so I could enjoy them. It was many little things. Practically without awareness I ballooned! I always wore clothes that were large for me so I had space to grow and didn’t realize how much I gained until my clothes got tight (50+lbs).

      I was completely convicted and, yes, ashamed! I lost 35lbs and maintained and was beginning the next phase of weight loss when I got pregnant (yay!). Despite my excitement, I’m honestly a little discouraged about my weight as it’s common to gain around 35 lbs! I feel like it’s back to square one with my weight. But it’s a battle I know I can win.

      I looked at so many diets and tried many things before, but what struck me was that food was fuel and if I wasn’t hungry enough for fish and broccoli then I wasn’t hungry. After a few weeks I started to get more in touch with the natural signs of fullness that I’d ignore for so long and realized my hunger pains were actually more a sign of thirst and improper nutrition (if after a bag of chips or some other junk, you’re still hungry, it’s not a problem with needing more food it’s a problem with nutrition that your body didn’t get from the junk). It really is about moderation and I learned that the hard way. I still am learning it and I’m grateful that shame let me know I needed to make a change.

    3. I’m so with you…My husband is 6’5 and I’ve gained so much weight! But I can’t blame him entirely…we are the perfect feedback loop of chocolate cookies…

      That being said…

      Zumba…do 2 hours of Zumba a day…

      In just a few weeks I’m seeing a difference. I recommend this video on youtube…

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7dKwa0SIJ0

      Two of these videos a day, keeps the doctor away!

      1. One more piece of advice….

        I only eat with my husband. So the rest of the day I starve. This really helps balance it out, although I don’t think it’s entirely healthy and it causes me to binge eat around him.

        BUT…I do go 16-18 hours without food so…that’s not bad.

        It’s not ideal…but it could be worse.

  6. Ouch, what a conviction! I am considered overweight by most standards and I am doing exactly what you suggest. My breakfast consists of coffee, I normally skip lunch, and supper is the healthy, nourishing food I prepare for my family. As a mother, I am on my feet all day cleaning- there is my excercise! Lol

    Thank you for speaking up on this topic.

    1. I’m sorry, but this is not healthy, I consider you to fuel your body with nutrition food. Starving yourself is not healthy, or taking care of your body.

      1. Actually research seems to show significant benefits to intermittent fasting to make us healthier.

        “Modified fasting regimens appear to promote weight loss and may improve metabolic health. Several lines of evidence also support the hypothesis that eating patterns that reduce or eliminate nighttime eating and prolong nightly fasting intervals may result in sustained improvements in human health. Intermittent fasting regimens are hypothesized to influence metabolic regulation via effects on (a) circadian biology, (b) the gut microbiome, and (c) modifiable lifestyle behaviors, such as sleep. If proven to be efficacious, these eating regimens offer promising nonpharmacological approaches to improving health at the population level, with multiple public health benefits.”
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28715993

  7. I know it’s not what you’re insinuating, but reading a couple of the comments make me want to add that it is important to not obsess over the visible sins of others while ignoring our own invisible sins. I know I can be guilty of this myself.

    I once attended a church that ostracized a teenage girl who made a terrible mistake and became pregnant. A drive was arranged to help the soon-to-be single mother with baby necessities. Out of a congregation of over 100, only 2 ladies participated. Those same holier-than-thou church ladies were disobedient to their husbands, gossipers, and a fair few were obese. Just because someone’s sin is different or more obvious than your own doesn’t make it greater. We are all wretched sinners in need of Jesus. If you are quick to convict other believers of their sins, you need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and welcome the same admonitions in your own life.

    Lori, I developed PCOS after the birth of our 3rd. My OB suggested a few months of hormone therapy to try and straighten it out. I hated the hormones and have avoided going back to the OB since then. I think I recently saw you mention research about natural ways to overcome PCOS? But I can’t seem to find the comment. Would you mind sharing again? Thanks!

  8. I have fallen to the sin of gluttony in the past. Fortunately my wife has focused on helping both of us eat more healthy. As a result, we have both gained control of our eating and lost a significant amount of weight. Before approaching anyone with the issue of their weight, whether a spouse, child, or friends, one needs to check the heart. The concern should come out of love and humility. If said out of arrogance, it will fall flat. It is not about one’s weight, but a genuine concern for their health.

  9. Keto is very effective. When I got married in gained weight. It had nothing to do with getting married I am an avid cross fitter, I eat healthy. But in had undiagnosed pcos and when I went off the pill. I was on it prior to marriage to manage endometriosis not to prevent pregnancy. Obviously. But going off it caused a great deal of weight gain several tests later they determined I had pcos despite.cutting calories to almost nothing and very trying workouts nothing changed. Keto however did help a lot. I’m currently pregnant so no longer doing keto but i will go back to it after.

    1. I fully agree. This, along with regular exercise, is how my wife and I brought our weight down. It has been an easy way of eating for us, which is important when considering something for a regular eating habit. I am not super strict with it, but don’t stray too far from the plan. There are also some great recipes out there that are low carb. My wife makes low carb stir fry meals that are delicious.

    2. Keto is very bad for the kidneys. Protein is the enemy of the kidney organ. I have done high protein diets for most of my life, and ruined my kidneys. I now strive to eat no more than 65 grams of protein a day.

  10. For us that are overweight and want to do something about it. What would you suggest? Any certain eating plan or diet that you recommend?

    I must be careful about too much research on anything, by way of internet or anything else because of taking a lot of my time away from my wife, mother and keeper of the home duties. So any input on helping to shed pounds and be healthy would be greatly appreciated!!

    Sadly , it is a common thread among christian women to be overweight and excuse it for one reason or another. Again, I am also speaking of overeating or eating things not healthy, not overweight for medical reasons. Thanks for any thoughts!!

    1. I would encourage them to get healthy by getting rid of all of the junk food in their homes and eating the way God intended for them to eat. Weston A. Price on Facebook is a good place to learn. Eat whole, nourishing foods. Good proteins, good fats, and lots of greens. They’ll be more satisfied with this type of food rather than junk food with empty calories. Make sure they are sleeping enough and getting daily exercise. When my children were young, I would take them on walks every day. My husband and I have taken daily walks for years. Also, try to only eat three meals a day and eat in moderation. Moderation is the key and reminding yourself that you can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you!

        1. Michelle – Mind if I offer a few suggestions that helps me maintain my weight? Buy and USE smaller plates – the ones smaller than dinner plates-a friend suggested that and it works for both her and I. I measure ALL my food, I get odd looks from co-workers (and my husband!) but it keeps me from indulging. Exercise whenever possible-every little bit helps. I’m accountant (full time) and I sit 75% of the time at work; however, when I making phones call/download emails, etc., I do lunges, squats, and leg lifts. Park as far away as possible (keep safety in mind!) from work, the grocery store, CHURCH, etc. I purposely make multi trip to my basement or break room at work for items I need to get extra steps in. I brush my teeth right after dinner at night-makes me wanna NOT “dirty” up my teeth – haha. Hope these simply hints help you like they help me. God is good, he’ll guide you.
          Lakelie

          1. Thank you so much Lakelie for sharing your thoughts. Very good suggestions for me to try out. Yes, I needed reminded that God is so good and He will guide me!! Thanks again!!

    2. “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon and “The Maker’s Diet” by Jordan Rubin are two good books along the same vein as Weston A. Price. I have them both in my kitchen bookshelf and use them for references and recipes weekly. 🙂

  11. I agree that we should not celebrate obesity and the host of chronic illnesses caused by it. I would emphasize the health aspects of obesity, not the aesthetics when counseling people. That being said, overeating is often caused by an addiction to food and has psychological roots i.e. anxiety, depression, trauma- much like other addictions. The obese person should be encouraged to seek help for the underlying cause, since to telling them simply to stop eating so much is mostly ineffective.

  12. “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon and “The Maker’s Diet” by Jordan Rubin are two good books along the same vein as Weston A. Price. I have them both in my kitchen bookshelf and use them for references and recipes weekly. 🙂

  13. In reading many comments, I must say I’m skeptical of PCOS. My sister was diagnosed after trying to conceive for 1 year, she now has several beautiful children (I don’t believe she has PCOS after looking into it but it is a convenient excuse for many things). My sister-in-law is also diagnosed and attributes many physical ailments to this problem while many other habits may contribute to her concerns. While I don’t deny that people experience symptoms that are concerning, I also wonder if PCOS is an excuse to get more women on birth control and further ruin their reproductive systems. Many people who don’t accept birth control as a means to stop pregnancy are more likely to accept it if it is considered medically necessary. I was having some problems myself and when I mentioned my sister’s diagnosis, I was told that I likely had PCOS as well. I refused hormonal treatment and low and behold I found out years later that my problems were a side effect of an asthma medication! But doctors tried and tried to push me toward hormonal birth control as it was “the only way” to manage my symptoms. I fear that too often, in today’s world, there are wolves in sheep’s clothing (you need birth control for medical reasons; abortion can solve problems) to open the door to more family destruction.

    1. My sister in law has it. And when I looked into treating it naturally I found out it is often caused by a vitamin d deficiency! But of course she wouldn’t listen to anything I said.

      1. The diagnosis certainly seems to be more prevalent lately. If I were experiencing irregular cycles and other symptoms, I would request blood work to check hormone levels to confirm the diagnosis, THEN research natural remedies.
        Don’t allow your OB to diagnose a syndrome without anecdotal records based on symptoms alone that could be caused by other disorders. After the birth of my first child, I questioned my dr. about treatment as I had been told that I had SOME PCOS symptoms (based on blood tests to look at hormone levels), but I didn’t fit a full diagnosis. Back then, all they wanted was to treat it with the bc pill – sounds like not much has changed, unfortunately.

    2. Unfortunately, it can be a diagnosis that some doctors just slap onto a patient. But PCOS isn’t a sham, medically speaking. PCOS is caused by Insulin Resistence and anyone with true PCOS is at risk for developing diabetes and as such can and should be treated as such. I am treated for PCOS through Metformin, though a few Doctors have tried to put me on hormonal birth control. I refuse to do so because it is so unnatural and unhealthy. Reputable doctors will actually run blood work and do ultrasounds before giving the diagnosis.

      I do believe that it is very common in a lot of OBGYNs to push Birth Control and they will try to do anything to get you on it. It is very disheartening, and very wise to stay far, far away from.

    3. @humbled wife. Pcos can be a legitimate diagnoses. It a hard to argue with an ultrasound that shows.multiple cysts on your ovaries and hormones that are tested in blood work and are out of.whack. I have personally dealt with it and can tell you it wasn’t a crutch. I coached and did cross fit 6 times a week. I monitored every calorie and nothing helped until I got a diagnoses and.was.able to learn how to fix those imbalances with the correct types of foods and eating schedule. I was able.to lose the extra ten/15 pounds and conceive. Birth control is not the.only way to manage it. I
      took it before in was married and not to prevent pregnancy as that wasn’t a concern. I had no problem.getting pregnant once I was married. In fact there is a lot of research out there that it can preserve a woman s fertility. The problem.is people who take it for five/ten years and wait to have children when its too late. I have no problem with it as a treatment option for a young woman on a temporary basis prior to being married and able to start a family. But for those that do it is not the only treatment. A lot of doctors will tell you getting pregnant will actually help regulate things. Taking certain diabetes medications will as.well since pcos is really a form of pre diabetes.

      1. @anonymous

        Of course PCOS can be legitimate. However, every diagnosis is accurate. Most women do have cysts at one time or another and there can be multiple causes for insulin resistance.

        You may not use it as a crutch, but others may. For example, many people will blame a diagnosis for their weight while exhibiting problematic eating behaviors. As I said, I am skeptical of the frequency of this diagnosis.

        As a doctor myself (I discourage this to women who ask about it), I often see people over-identify with a diagnosis because it means they don’t have to address some very real problems with their habits and behaviors. Sometimes it’s a self diagnosis, sometimes a misdiagnosis by providers, sometimes it’s a retracted diagnosis that the person is upset got taken away from them, but it happens and I encourage everyone to be cautious.

  14. I hate the way the word ‘shame’ has been so successfully co-opted as a checkmate by progressives. So much so that people are more scared of being accused of ‘shaming’ people than they are of the sins they’re calling out! Shame is a good thing. Shame is the survival instinct of the conscience.

    If people want to attempt a ‘gotcha’ with me by saying something like, “Are you trying to SHAME [insert some form of sin here; gluttony, fornication, sodomy, etc.]?” my response would be, “Why yes, yes I am.”

    1. This is such a great observation no one can be shamed as part of correction anymore. I especially note this in the discipline of children. But shame is a necessary emotion and experience to actually instigate change. It highlights the gravity of the sin. Another poll lace where this is evident is in drug and mental health treatment. You aren’t supposed to shame people for having chosen destructive habits and patterns of behaviour. This soft approach results in relapse, it a supposed to hurt letting go of bad habits and choices. It is something you should be ashamed of enough to want to change.

  15. I have always learned to be on the alert whenever the word “shame” is inserted into the conversation, because it is always either a lie or an evasion (or both) Fat shaming, slut shaming, victim shaming, etc.

    Good points here, Lori. My own weight has been creeping up lately, and it’s something I don’t feel good about. It both looks bad and hinders my abilities. I’d rather do something about it than start looking for an excuse – thanks for the good reminder!

  16. Great Post Lori,

    Terri’s book is a great book and should encourage any wife who wants to obey our Lord Jesus Christ! I agree that deficiencies are a significant part in digesting food. So much to learn, discern and grow from! Great comments and source of encouragement this blog is!!! You are in my prayers dear VT2! Love to you from the East Coast!

  17. I recently gave birth to a son. I exclusively breastfeed and lost majority of my baby weight in a month. For new moms I do just want to mention the pregnancy weight can drop faster due to exclusive breastfeeding and how quickly it burns calories. Since I’m only 4 weeks after birth I eat, sleep, and nurse by 6 weeks I’ll be back to my daily chore routine which also keeps me quite active since we also have a handsome toddler.

    P.S. may you please do a post on the narrow gate for young wives I.e. one of my dearest friends who is married almost a decade but they have chosen not to have children (they go back and forth now the husband wants children but mother is afraid of child birth) recently said a woman staying home to make coffee for her husband is wasting her gifts and will grow to hate her husband since she didn’t have a career…I so strongly disagree but I’d love to hear what the women in your chat room who have been full time SAHM advise when foolish comments arise as such…thank you Mrs. Lori…truly truly a resource from God. I have such peace in my home since reading the word and your blog each day. Not my job to change my husband…literally a WORD.

  18. Lori I must be behind the times because I had to Google Jillian Michaels who apparently is a homosexual . I didn’t know who Lizzo is either. All I can say is “Oh my!” Both of these women really need to know the love of the Lord.

  19. For all the women wondering how to lose weight…

    Zumba!

    It’s SO MUCH FUN! I just started a few weeks ago and I love it.

    It’s not working out at all, it’s just dancing.

  20. Lori,
    I was going to go to a aerobics class at my local gym but was shocked at the attire the women were wearing! And it was a male aerobics instructor! I was shocked and left. I will now be doing work-out videos from home.

  21. The Trim Healthy Mama plan is a very balanced way to eat too. I love their books and podcasts. Basically it’s lower and healthy carbs, protein at every meal and trading off eating healthy fats or carbs for most meals.

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